Acting Director of WASM Dr Sam Spearing Speaks From The Heart
HEARD ON HANNAN
Professor Sam Spearing could make a decent living as a stand-up comedian if Friday’s graduation ceremony for the WA School of Mines’ class of 2016 is anything to go by.
Speaking at his first graduation ceremony since taking up the director’s post last year, Professor Spearing’s 10-minute address was notable for two reasons — the obvious passion he brings to the
role, and the comic relief. He opened by suggesting family members could treat his speech as “intermission” during the 90- minute ceremony and should enjoy a nap, but nobody nodded off.
Among the array of mining graduates at Friday’s ceremony was ABC Goldfields-Esperance reporter Rhiannon Shine and former Kalgoorlie Miner scribe Tyne Logan, who both received their
Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism. “If you hate my speech it was written by the two journalists,” Professor Spearing joked. They were not the only targets in his sights, and soon it was US Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Professor Spearing told graduates their degree was the second biggest investment they would make besides a house, adding they had the professional skills to take them forward, but would need to develop people skills. “Graduates come out of university and don’t know how to play in the sand pit,” he said. “They’ve forgotten how to deal with teams and how to communicate with people.
“It’s something that you’re going to have to learn very quickly. “If you look at the people who do succeed, perhaps with the exception of Donald Trump — I’m American so I’m allowed to say that —
your communication skills are important.” Professor Spearing touched on ethics and themes such as forgiveness, recalling an anecdote where his children sang in the choir at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as South African president — the crowd that day included Mandela’s white jailer.
He warned graduates of the perils of social media “which can come back and bite you” and discussed what the future might hold, including the need for more skills with traditional jobs disappearing. “The good news is in your careers, it’s very difficult to get computers to do them — computers have more sense — they don’t want to go underground,” he joked. Global crises with a lack of electricity, food and water are among the challenges graduates face in the future. “We helped mess up the world because we wanted you people to be gainfully employed and give
you some challenges,” he said.