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Convocation speaker offers insights about succeeding amidst competition

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At the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology convocation ceremonies on Friday April 27, graduates were inspired by Lauren Bird, vice president and general manager of the Valero McKee Refinery, as he taught them how to succeed amidst competition.

Bird, who has worked in the oil refining business for 37 years, graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

“Be proud of your achievements,” said Bird. “Recognize that as BYU grads you have a legacy to uphold.”

Bird explained the difficulties BYU grads will face in the workforce competing against thousands of other grads for the same jobs. But Bird emphasized the value that a BYU education can bring.

“It is my experience that an engineering education from BYU compares very well with all other institutions,” he said. “I believe that both the engineering and life skills I learned at BYU have served me well throughout my career and have helped me to compete in the business world.”

Bird also explained that establishing a personal brand and cultivating an attitude of “let’s go see” are the two skills that he thought essential for all graduates to understand.

“What are you going to be known for?” said Bird “What is your reputation among your peers? Decide what you stand for. Brands help us recognize predictable quality and price. As an engineer, you have your own brand. Your reputation as an engineer and a person must be carefully built up and defended.”

Bird emphasized that in order to be an effective problem solver, every engineer must have a “let’s go see attitude,” where they keep an open mind and investigate every problem from multiple angles, not just the technical engineering ones.

“One of the best attitudes that you can develop is and attitude of let’s go see,” said Bird. “Most engineers succeed or fail not because of excellent or poor technical skills but because of excellent or poor interpersonal skills.”

“In the real world, in the intersection of practicality and reality, practical engineers recognize that reality always has the right of way.”

Bird closed by reemphasizing the importance of building an effective personal brand and developing a “let’s go see” attitude.

“As you build and defend your brand and take a let's go see approach to problem solving, you will find fulfillment in your chosen engineering discipline,” said Bird. “You will become a trusted professional and be respected as one who consistently delivers. You will make a positive difference for your co-workers and employers. You will find yourself upholding the legacy of BYU and ultimately the BYU brand of the college of engineering.”

Bird's full remarks can be found here

Convocation details:

Bird was the keynote speaker at the event located in the Smith Fieldhouse at 11 a.m.

The Ira A. Fulton College had 502 total graduates including 411 bachelor’s degrees 76 for master’s degrees as well as 15 doctoral degrees.

The school of technology speaker was Chris Musso

The music was provided by Zenia James from the music department.

Landon Scofield, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering was the student speaker. Scofield's remarks can be found here

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Release Date
Mimi Hanks Josh Wilford BYU Photo May 29, 2018
801-422-3948
mhanks@byu.edu