Be open, be impatient, be hopeful: Google CEO’s advice to graduating class amid Covid-19

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 09, 2020

Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday addressed the graduating class of 2020 in a virtual graduation ceremony, urging them to be hopeful and open to possibilities amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Be open … be impatient … be hopeful. If you can do that, history will remember the Class of 2020 not for what you lost, but for what you changed,” Pichai said in his speech released as a blog post.

The Google CEO, giving examples of the crises that have come before, told the students to remain optimistic.

“So let me skip right to the end and tell you what happens: you will prevail,” he said.

“The reason I know you’ll prevail is because so many others have done it before you. One hundred years ago, the class of 1920 graduated into the end of a deadly pandemic. Fifty years ago, the class of 1970 graduated in the midst of the Vietnam War. And nearly 20 years ago, the class of 2001 graduated just months before 9/11,” he added.

Pichai detailed a few experiences of his life and the challenges he faced growing up, in his journey to becoming the CEO of one of the largest tech companies.

The Alphabet CEO had grown up without technology and regular access to a computer until he came to pursue higher studies at Stanford. His father had paid a year’s salary to send him to America, where everything was costly. It was technology that got him through during his time in America, the tech mogul told students. He further detailed how the internet was “being built around him” when he was in America and what had led him to join Google.

“The year I arrived at Stanford was the same year the browser Mosaic was released, which would popularise the world wide web and the internet. The summer I left was the same summer that a graduate student named Sergey Brin met a prospective engineering student named Larry Page. These two moments would profoundly shape the rest of my life. But at the time, I didn’t know it,” he said.

“It took me a while to realise that the internet would be the single best way to make technology accessible to more people. As soon as I did, I changed course and decided to pursue my dreams at Google,” he added.

He further urged the students to build upon their impatience and innovate just as previous generations had.

“There are probably things about technology that frustrate you and make you impatient. Don’t lose that impatience. It will create the next technology revolution and enable you to build things my generation could never dream of,” he said.

“You may be just as frustrated by my generation's approach to climate change, or education. Be impatient. It will create the progress the world needs,” he further said.

The virtual graduation ceremony was attended by other major celebrities including former US President Barack Obama and former US First Lady Michelle Obama, musician Lady Gaga, singer Beyoncé, South Korean pop group BTS, and activist Malala Yousafzai, among others.

Published on June 09, 2020

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