by RONALYN BANAKEN
Aaron Black, Vice-President for Asia Operations of Zip Travel International, encourages the graduates to ‘be confident and passionate’
and to ‘stretch’ themselves during the University baccalaureate rites.
If there are three things a human resource management expert has to say to those who are about to embark onto the professional world, it would be: be confident, stretch yourself, and pursue your passion. Such three things are in Aaron Black’s list of motivational virtues.
Black, Vice-President for Asia Operations of Zip Travel International (one of the world’s largest career internship and work travel agencies) and owner/investor of Inner Outer Travel, Inc. DBA Zip Travel, spoke before over 600 graduates of the University of Baguio (UB) during the University’s baccalaureate rites on Oct. 26 and he shared how the three virtues can have a profound effect in reaching success and ultimately in making a difference.
‘You’re in charge’
Speaking of lessons he learned from his own discoveries,Black – who studied HumanResourceManagementandIndustrial Relations at theUniversityofArkansas in the US – struck a familiar chord when he reminded the graduates that they “are in charge of their own journey.” He played up the classic wisdom on finding one’s direction. “Some opportunities will make perfect sense to you while others will be those twists and turns you’ll come across while you’re trying to reach your next goal.”
“The learning I had during college and the role I’ve had since then has been part of my personal foundation. It has guided me and enabled me to contribute throughout my career and achieve a primary goal which is to make a difference to the people that I touch,” he said.
He was forthright when he further outlined his points in “three attributes”, bringing more wisdom to the table.
The industrial relations expert put it straight, saying, “Start from a place of confidence. Confidence is knowing that you can contribute but also knowing that you can ask for help – ‘cause asking for help is how we continue to learn.”
Sharing when he was just beginning himself, he recounted, “When I started, I found myself responsible on my first assignment to work with the 150 senators and VIPs in town for golf tournament. I was scared… I knew nothing about government politics. I knew nothing about golf. [But] I had the confidence to ask questions… And in the end, I had a lot of fun and I really started to enjoy my job and understand the difference that I was making.”
Black then moved on to taking risks – one of the oldest virtues that forever inspired man to transcend boundaries and exceed visions. Applauding the legendary Tiger Woods, he quoted the famed golfer, saying, “Tiger Woods said, ‘People don’t understand that when I grew up, I was never the most talented. I was never the biggest. I was never the fastest. I was certainly never the strongest. But the only thing I had was my ability to stretch myself, and that is what’s gotten me this far.’
[Year after year,] he changed his swing. He knew it was risky but he did it anyway… Tiger Woods [then] became the most dominant player in golf.”
However, Black stressed that having confidence and the will to stretch yourself and take risks will only happen when you’re in the pursuit of something that is really important to you – something you are passionate about.
Black has worked for some of the world’s biggest companies – such as Wal-Mart (an American multinational retail corporation) and Siemens (the world's largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company) among others – and he has gained an extensive knowledge on how to stay in the business and how to stay on track in the long term. But, however broad his experience may be, it all boils down to one utterly utterly immense word: passion.
He challenged the graduates with what he called “the third attribute” that he looks for. “One of my primary responsibilities is to ensure that I have the right people, the right talent to deliver exceptional service [and] I want people who are passionate – passionate about serving others and making a contribution to the workplace and also to themselves.”
“You are entering a vibrant and challenging workforce with global competition. I can’t predict where your career path is going to take you, what lessons you’re going to be learning along your journey and what differences you will make. What I can say is, with certainty, is the opportunities are endless, and it’s very exciting,” he said.
He then concluded his piece with compelling words from Michael Jordan: “Some people want it to happen. Some people wish it would happen. Others make it happen.”
“Let’s make it happen,” he urged the newest batch of UB alumni.