Rajiv Suri speaks to the Class of 2016, Manipal University: Choose Curiosity over clarity, Diversity vs uniformity, Passion vs discipline, Honour vs success and Humanity over technology

| December 9, 2016 | Reply



President and CEO of Nokia, Rajeev Suri, addresses the graduating class at his alma mater, Manipal University in India.

Rajeev shared a nostalgic view of his experience at Manipal, but also the lessons he learnt that made him who he is today.

Although he’s based in Finland, as CEO he spends 200 days of the year travelling.

He talks about the positivity of his audience being more worldly, more connected, more informed,  tolerant to change, more accepting who are different. Your differences are powerful. He says that what we are seeing today is the last gasp of the previous generations, frightened (e.g. Trump, e.g. Brexit and potential following countries. Note how it’s the previous older generations wanting things to go back to the old ways whilst the younger generation preferred the more connected, integrated UK with Europe that wasn’t concerned with others ‘taking’ their jobs but instead appreciated the diversity).

Rajeev talked about ‘surplanting’ others, in this case, Elop as CEO. Elop at the time was the first non Finn CEO. Then his replacement and Balmers were both Indians (Nadella from Hyderabad). Other notable Indian CEOs.. Google’s CEO as of October 2015, Sundar Pichai, was from Madurai, India. Pepsico and Adobe both also have Indian CEOs, Pepsico being a female lead, Indra Nooyi.

Rajeev advises to choose curiosity over clarity (perhaps something Nokia has been doing with their weird and wonderful designs and technology pursuits in the past) and being a life long learner to stay curious, engage and learn. Second is to choose diversity over uniformity as diversity makes us richer, being more inclusive makes us stronger. Third, passion over discipline. Whilst he appreciates discipline gets you the difference between average and good but getting to stellar, requires more – passion, people who care, committed and go the extra mile.  Those are the kind of people that really make a difference (and for me are the memorable ones – at school, at Uni, at work, these were the ones I’d remember – the ones that went out of their way for others because they loved what they did and wanted others to see that too). Fourth – honours over success, e.g. people who look like winners but they aren’t. Rajeev gave examples of drug dopers (this speech was from November 30. News from BBC today: I still remember the anger from Russian officials that there was consideration of a ban on their athletes around the time of the Olympics. ) as a way of getting success, but the wrong way.

Finally, in contrast as a CEO of a technology company, he advises to choose humanity over technology. Tech by itself is meaningless, technology that serves people is what matters. Connectivity brings people together.  We are moving towards more automation and that will bring a gift – the gift of time. He advises to use that time wisely, not being another hour in work or on social media but to be present, talk to the person next to you, share your experience, to help others, to be human and to be part of humanity.

The late Steve Jobs shared those sentiments about curiosity over hungry advising everyone to stay hungry and to stay foolish, doing what you love (in work and relationships :0)

I remember the late Steve Job’s commencement address. I remember hearing about it before I really knew who he was and what he would do at Apple. It was back in 2005, before iPhone so I didn’t pay all that much attention to the mac world. But I remember finding it utterly inspiring.

Jobs loved what he was doing. He shares that you’ve got to find what you love. Work encompasses a great part of your life so love what you do and make great work.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”. So poignant as during that time of his speech, he had overcome pancreatic cancer after having surgery. It’s possible that Steve Jobs knew the outlook of his pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour but yet stayed on as much as he could at Apple, only leaving the post as CEO for the best interest of the company. He probably would have stayed on given how much Mr Jobs seemed to love his job.


No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I agree whole heartedly. If you’re lucky enough to have the option, choose to do what you love to do. You’ll come across set backs, you’ll come across failure, but in that time you’ll have been doing what you love. Success tends to find you as your greatness shines from your passion. And success btw, isn’t necessarily even a universal measurements of monetary value, status or grades but having that satisfaction of having done something worthwhile.



Category: Nokia

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