Tsinghua-INSEAD EMBA: “Sincerity, Anticipation, Cooperation”

Sharaf Hameed is from India and a graduate in 2022 of Tsinghua – INSEAD EMBA Programme. He delivered a graduation speech at the Commencement Ceremony 2022 of Tsinghua SEM. 

Dear faculty, classmates and friends, Good afternoon!

I’m Sharaf from India, and it’s my honor to represent TIEMBA at this graduation ceremony. As we approach the end of this journey, I’m amazed at how fast time has flown. Today, let me share some of our experiences and learnings with you.

As part-time students of two schools – Tsinghua and INSEAD – our classes were supposed to be divided between the two campuses. But because of the pandemic, some of our classmates were unable to visit the campuses, and we were never able to get all of us together for a group photo. This was not what we had planned when we started.

But as we walked on campus in the first module with our new classmates, our hearts were full of joy, feeling like being back to student days again, despite the average age of our class being 38 years. That freshman feeling did not last long. I remember taking a taxi back to the campus one evening, and the taxi driver said to the security guard at the campus entrance: “I’m just dropping this professor back to the campus guesthouse”. Regardless of our age, I believe that being part-time students, we may have cherished the experience more than full time students; relishing each day of the module – being students again on the beautiful Tsinghua campus, eating in the student cafeterias, and lectures in the classroom – before returning to our jobs, family, and regular life between modules.

The learnings and experiences of the last two years were precious and memorable. INSEAD’s professors delivered essential and thought-provoking core courses and instilled in us the school’s vision: “Business as a Force for Good”. At the same time, Tsinghua’s expertise in economics and China-focus taught us that finance and business cannot be isolated from economics and the bigger picture, making us better rounded professionals capable of holistic thinking.

There was one very special experience I would like to share with you. In April last year, some of us students in China attended a school event called “Chong Zou Liandalu” in Qinglong, Guizhou province, where we covered about 70km on foot over 3 days. I learnt about the struggles during Xinan Lianda period when the staff and students traveled all the way from Changsha to Kunming in harsh conditions and I was impressed by their conviction to relentlessly continue the spirit of education. In some ways, the last two years have been like Liandalu; despite all the difficulties caused by the pandemic, we did not let it stop our quest for learning. Being unable to meet all our classmates in person, absence would make our hearts fonder, with never a day going by without updates in our WeChat groups. Our classmates both within and outside China organized local meetups, spontaneous online discussions, and class calls. We were committed to the program and to each other, and our motto was “no one left behind”.

At the commencement ceremony about two years ago, I used three keywords to describe my sentiment at that time. Reflecting on this period, the same three words can express my feeling today:

  1. Sincerity: I am thankful for the friendships and good times, and to all the professors and staff for their guidance and hard work.
  2. Anticipation: Looking forward to a life-long relationship with my dear classmates, fellow students and both our alma maters.
  3. Cooperation: Especially to the young students graduating today, I want to stress the importance of openness and a globalized mindset. We must not just keep our heads low and think only of our own personal or national interests, but instead raise our heads high, and act in the shared cooperative interests of all of humanity.

The road ahead may be long and arduous, but perseverance will get us there. I wish all students graduating today as well as our classmates graduating soon all the best for the future. May your will and purpose light your way.

About Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA)

TIEMBA is a unique and modular dual-degree programme that offers our participants the best of both institutions: one of China’s most elite universities and one of the world’s top international business schools. It is always an important part of the programme to combine theory together with practice, which leads the program to invite global executive leaders walking into the class.

Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman
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