During the start of the school year at Tec de Monterrey, the former secretary of the OECD told young people that success never happens “in a straight line.”
José Ángel Gurría, former secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), warned that in Mexico there are not only enormous inequalities in terms of income, but also in access to quality education.
During Inspira 2021, the inaugural event to start the school year at Tec de Monterrey, Gurría recommended that students take advantage of all the opportunities they have.
The event, which was held at the Mexico City Campus, was presided over by David Garza Salazar, rector and executive president of Tecnológico de Monterrey, and Juan Pablo Murra Lascurain, rector of undergraduate and graduate studies.
Tecnológico de Monterrey’s 26 campuses also participated virtually.
“Always remember that you live in a country of 130 million inhabitants, of whom 56 million live in a state of poverty and a good part of whom live in a situation of extreme poverty,” he said.
To this end, Gurría asked Tec students to recognize the type of education they’ll have access to.
“Never forget that, in addition to income inequalities, there are enormous inequalities in access to quality education. Always remember, you’re privileged.”
Gurría also said that, based on his personal experience since childhood, not wasting time is essential to achieving goals.
“Every day, I made the best use of the time I had. I did many things. As a child, I learned English and taught English classes, then I learned shorthand and taught shorthand, which helped me even when I was Secretary of Finance.”
Laughing, Gurría recalls that as a secretary of state, shorthand helped him to take notes during meetings with other politicians.
During his student days, he tried to learn as much as possible and build up his network every day. Even without preparing for it, this served him well when he became a member of the presidential cabinet.
“I never thought that I would become Secretary of Foreign Affairs. However, I felt comfortable when the time came.”
Juan Pablo Murra hosted a debate in which five students of academic excellence, including members of the Federation of Students and Leaders of Tomorrow, had the opportunity to take part in a question-and-answer session with José Ángel Gurría, who shared his life and work experience with them, as well as advice and anecdotes.
Regarding the common idea that a successful professional always rises, Gurría said that this isn’t always the case, since ups and downs are part of the existence of any human being.
“Life isn’t a straight line towards what we want, it’s one constant search. It’s about constantly questioning whether we’re on the right path, if we’re making the right decision, delegating to the right person, or if our actions create wellbeing not only for ourselves but for others.”
Gurría, who was also Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Secretary of Finance during the six-year term of President Ernesto Zedillo, said that Tec de Monterrey is uniquely placed to provide students with an education that allows them to adapt to the world’s increasingly rapid changes.
Regarding the fears that students may experience in the face of an uncertain future, Gurría explained that this feeling is normal, but under no circumstances should they allow it to control them.
“It’s OK to feel uncertain. But don’t let your worries control you. Concerns mobilize you, but fear paralyzes you,” said José Ángel Gurría.
He invited the Tec students to be leaders, not only because of some natural charisma they have but because of their academic training.
“Many times, we see the case of people who, without having had much charisma or many public positions, were leaders by virtue of understanding the moment based on a background of education and information,” he explained.