More than 300 graduates crossed the stage at OPAIC’s biggest ceremony to date at the Auckland Town Hall yesterday.
Guest speaker Guy Howard-Willis told graduates about the many challenges he’s faced and how those challenges set him off in new directions.
Guy has founded many start-up businesses. One of his most successful is outdoor adventure store Torpedo7.
“Life won’t be what you expect, or what you plan, at least that’s been my experience,” he said.
Guy had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military, but he failed the entrance exams for military cadet school, the navy and the air force.
It taught him that “failure is not fatal” and showed him not to be afraid of doing something new.
He had a serious motorbike accident as a teenager and was in hospital for two and a half months.
A girl he’d met once before came to visit every day and they ended up getting married.
“Not all bad things that happen are going to end up that way. It’s only if you make it that way.”
When Guy came to New Zealand in 1975, he worked in a caravan factory. It was a good job, but he was made redundant.
“That was the push for me to start to get into business.”
He started selling designer furniture and soon had his own factory. Things were going well until a fire destroyed his warehouse.
Financially there was no way through, but the challenge set him off in a different direction. He ended up in a better manufacturing plant with a retail store, which he eventually sold to start an e-commerce sports business with his son.
He said all those challenges helped him become more courageous and find the inner strength he needed.
“It helped me develop a courageous mind in solving problems and it always set me off in a different direction.”
Chair of the Otago Polytechnic Council Kathy Grant also addressed graduates, congratulating them for grasping the opportunities the institution provided.
“I want to acknowledge your courage and bravery in choosing to travel half-way around the world from countries such as India, China, Nepal and the Philippines to study here.”
“You have demonstrated that you are adventurers, achievers and doers. You are also this polytechnic’s success stories and will become ambassadors for this campus in New Zealand, in your country of origin, and elsewhere.”
Check out the photos here.