I am honored to be here today to address Dean Yingyi Qian, Tsinghua School of Economics and Management’s distinguished faculty, proud family members, supportive friends, and most importantly, the class of 2015. Unlike my boss, Mark Zuckerberg, I do not speak Chinese. For that I apologize. But he did ask me to pass along this message – zhuhe. I am thrilled to be here to congratulate this magnificent class on your graduation.
When Dean Qian invited me to speak today, I thought, come talk to a group of people way younger and cooler than I am? I can do that. I do that every day at Facebook, since Mark is 15 years younger than I am and many of our employees are more his contemporaries than mine. I like being surrounded by young people, except when they say to me, “What was it like being at university without a mobile phone?” or worse, “Sheryl, can you come here? We need to see what old people think of this feature.”
I graduated from college in 1991 and business school in 1995. This was not that long ago. But I can tell you: the world has changed an awful lot in just 25 years. My business school class tried to have our school’s first online class. We had to pass out a list of screen names because it was unthinkable to put your real name on the internet. And it did not work because the system kept crashing – it just wasn’t possible for 90 people to communicate at once online.
But for a few brief moments in between crashes, we glimpsed the future - a future where technology would connect us to our colleagues, our relatives, our friends. The world we live in today is one I could not have imagined when I was sitting where you are. And 25 years from now, you will have helped shape your generation’s world.
As graduates of Tsinghua, you will be leaders not just in China, but globally. China is a world leader in terms of educational attainment and economic growth. It is not just political and business leaders that recognize the importance of China. Many American...