Convocation speaker highlights the benefits of humility and trust in a professional setting

On Friday, April 28, hundreds of graduates, family members, friends, and faculty gathered together for the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology convocation ceremonies. The convocation speaker was Ryan Holmes, director of Digital Media and Technical Operations for BYU Broadcasting, and he gave advice to the graduates on working with others and staying humble.

Holmes received his BS degree in mechanical engineering from BYU in 1992. After that, he received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowship, which enabled him to earn his MS degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. Since then, he has worked as chief executive for many technology companies, and even started a video game development group with his nephews, Chair Entertainment Group. After selling the company in 2009, he made the transition to BYU Broadcasting.

Having been in the same shoes as the graduates 25 years prior, Holmes shared with them the greatest surprise of his career, saying, “the biggest challenges that I have faced have not been technical challenges, they’ve been people challenges.”

Holmes learned this as he worked on a project at Stanford to create a door syncing system for General Motors. Although at first he was worried about his technical abilities, he soon found that to be the easy part. Working effectively with a team was more challenging. Holmes found that he had to learn to trust all his teammates, learn to work together, and find ways to make contributions himself while also allowing others to contribute.

Holmes has discovered that building relationships and working in teams, although difficult, has been important to his career. He realized that he cannot solve every problem by himself. Holmes joked to the graduates that although they may be smarter than him, they cannot answer every question by themselves either.  An effective team is needed to solve problems and accomplish big things.

“What you do is important, but who you do it with is more important and will ultimately determine your success and your satisfaction more than any other factor,” he said. “My relationships with people and the teams I’ve worked with have been the most rewarding aspect of my career.”

One of the most important elements in creating these mutually beneficial relationships in a professional setting is trust. “Trust enables good communication that engages and lifts people. It builds value,” Holmes said.  “Lack of trust leads to bad communication, and ultimately destroys value.”

Holmes shared that one attribute that will strengthen the trust between members of a team is humility. Although humility is more often spoken of in a religious setting than a business one, being humble can have a lot of influence on a company’s success. In business, people love to compete, and in competition, weakness is a bad thing. To remain competitive, businesses often try to boost their strengths and deny any weakness. However, hiding a weakness can become a bigger issue than being upfront about it.

However, when people learn to be humble, they develop trust between each other. Trust, as Holmes explained, can drive communication, and create an outlet for people to share their weaknesses. And although a sign of weakness by some, Holmes even explained the benefit of asking for help.

“Asking for help is one of the greatest skills you’ll ever develop,” he said “It’s not a sign of weakness but a very real strength.”

Holmes concluded by saying that his “best teams have felt and operated more like a family than anything else.” This is because families don’t have to hide their weaknesses. Families build each other up and strengthen each other and conquer their weaknesses.

Humility is the one of the best ways to build these kinds of relationships. Although it is not always popular in a secular setting, humility can pave the way for communication that is vital to a successful team. Holmes explained that combining the spiritual and the business world together through humility can be extremely important to having a successful career.    

Convocation Details

The engineering convocation was held at 11 a.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse and the School of Technology convocation was held at 2 p.m. in the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom. Ryan Holmes was the keynote speaker at both ceremonies.

Mechanical engineering graduate Marsie Trego was the student speaker for the engineering convocation. Neil Olsen, mechanical engineering graduate, performed Prelude in D Flat Major by Sergei Rachmaninov. 411 engineering students earned degrees. Out of these, 342 were bachelor’s degrees, 62 were master’s degrees, and seven were doctoral degrees.

Caleb Lind was also honored at the engineering convocation. Lind passed away on April 18, but had completed the requirements for a BS in chemical engineering. The university presented Lind’s degree posthumously to his mother, Dianne McCann.

Camilla Stark, industrial design graduate, was the School of Technology keynote speaker. Several members of the School of Technology graduating class performed a special musical number, “Make Us One,” by Sally DeFord.  148 degrees were awarded, including 125 BS degrees, 14 BFA degrees, and nine master’s degrees. 


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