Cathryn Watson, Katie Sherwood, Kylie McAlister, and Kathryn Baxter.
Cathryn Watson, Katie Sherwood, Kylie McAlister, and Kathryn Baxter. Jann Houley

Graduation speaker: 'embrace failure, beware insta-fame'

IT'S been 28 years since Jason Titman graduated from CQUniversity, and this week he returned to deliver the opening address during Thursday's graduation ceremony.

CQUniversity Vice Chancellor Nick Klomp with guest speaker Jason Titman
CQUniversity Vice Chancellor Nick Klomp with guest speaker Jason Titman Jann Houley

A chartered accountant who branched into the motor industry, motels and tech companies, he acknowledged that it is impossible to live a life without setbacks.

"As a nation, Australia needs to embrace and give more permission to 'fail' but I think we also need to be careful the pendulum does not go too far," he said.

"I am concerned that some in the 'start up' community think it's okay to keep spending investor money and failing."

He shared five key learnings which he learned outside of formal education, the first of which was "follow your passion and not what is expected of you."

The second was "don't believe everything you hear and only half of what you see".

He cited the example of a restaurant which went from number 18,793 to first on Trip Advisor... before it was revealed no such restaurant existed.

The third, "embrace every job like it is your dream job", Mr Titman put down to his experience as an auditor.

He advised the graduates to learn everything they could about the product or services they offer to clients, to know who the movers and shakers are.

"Know who is successfully making money in the industry and who is losing it,” he said.

"It is a reputable model which will help you rise quickly in every job or investment.”

His fourth piece of advice was a riff on Kenny Roger's The Gambler: "know when to hold them and know when to fold them”.

"It takes as much effort to build a $10 million company as it does a $100 million one... so which one will you focus on?”

Having said, Mr Titman said there were times to make the decision to walk away, if it meant holding fast to one's values or seeking a better opportunity elsewhere.

Finally, he warned the graduates to be wary of the pitfalls of social media.

"If you don't want it to make the news and be trending on Twitter, then don't do it,” he quoted from the late Rod Wiley of KPMG.

"Be it insider trading, sexual misconduct or fraud, someone will inevitably, eventually find out.”

Finally, in the spirit of the graduation ceremony, which was attended by many family members, he said the greatest gift a parent could give to their children, apart from an education, was confidence and the resilence to ride out failures and turn their endeavours into a success.