Be Somebody!

The National Graduate Orientation Programme is over. And 1,300 graduates have now entered the workforce. I didn’t get to congratulate them. So I’ve decided to write about what I would have talked about had I been given the opportunity to meet them.

First, I would have talked about employment. Then I would have talked about the role of the opposition.


Be somebody! Sound familiar?

Be somebody! Remember this hand signal? Clenched fist, thumb upright?

Yes, of course you do. It’s from the career counseling tour in 2002, seven years ago. Yes, seven years ago – I can’t believe that that’s how long it’s already been – when Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup visited every high school in the country to talk to our students about what they wanted to do in life. I was a part of the multi-sectoral task force that accompanied Lyonpo Sangay in 2002.

You were in school that year, all of you. Most of you would have been in class 8 or 9. So you probably would have attended the career counseling workshop. Chances are you don’t remember my presentation. But then again, chances are you may remember something I said. And what did I say? Be somebody!

Now you’ve graduated – one thousand, two hundred and sixty four of you. You have graduated with degrees in business, commerce, IT, management, science, engineering, medicine, philosophy, architecture, and a range of specializations in the arts. Well done. Congratulations!

It hasn’t been easy, I know. I’ve met some of you. And you’ve told me so. You’ve had to work hard and study long hours. And most of you have had to struggle in foreign lands – in India and beyond. Some of you have had to borrow money to finance your studies.

But you graduated. And now you are ready to serve your king, your country and your people. You are ready to be somebody!

During the orientation programme, a lot of people have talked to you about employment, and described the many job opportunities that you have. They are right. You see, our country has barely six hundred thousand people. That’s not enough people. In fact, one of the biggest challenges we continue to face is a shortage of workers in almost every field. We simply don’t have enough people to grow our own food, build our homes, teach our children, care for our sick, do business, and to protect our country.

Yes, there’s a lot of work to do. And that’s why I’m particularly happy to see that we have so many young graduates this year. You represent the new Bhutanese workforce – a workforce that is knowledgeable; a workforce that is productive; a workforce that will unleash the true potential of Bhutan.

But many people have also cautioned you about unemployment. This is unfortunate. Like I said, we have too few people. So we really shouldn’t have any unemployment. Yet, there is. And, as a matter of fact, it is growing.

Why is this happening? Mainly because of two inter-related reasons: one, we do not accept the jobs that exist; and two, our economy is weak. Put another way: Our economy is weak, so it generates only a few jobs. But when even these jobs remain vacant, our economy becomes weaker. And a weaker economy offers even less jobs. It’s a vicious cycle, one that we can reverse, one that we must reverse.

To reverse this trend, we must strengthen our economy. We have no other alternative. And that responsibility falls primarily on our government. But we have important roles too. As opposition leader, for instance, I must work with the government to support real and sustainable growth in our economy. This, I will pledge do.

And you, as graduates, can help strengthen the economy – can be part of the solution – by taking employment very seriously. Look for jobs, not just in the civil service, but especially in the private sector. Work hard. And make sure that you are productive. Make sure that you contribute to building our economy.

Seven years ago, during the career counseling tour, I asked you what “Be somebody!” meant to you. This is how most of you replied: a “somebody” is a person who is useful to self, to family and to country; a “somebody” is a person who is gainfully employed.

Be somebody!


Facebook Comments:


  1. This reminds me of one of my former Bosses. He’s still my idol.
    On one of our leisurely chats, I asked him how he landed up with the job. He smiled, sighed and said; ‘Hard work.” I said please explain. Then he told me his story….
    He was a door man in a hotel. He opened doors for guests and carried their luggage to their rooms.
    I was confused. I asked him again to explain. ‘Hard Work.’ He said again.
    ‘But how long did it take for you to become a General Manager?” I asked.
    “50 years.’ he said, and simply smiled. I troubled him no further.

    Later that year, I almost changed my profession as a butler to a Tour Guide. (The glam they had, you know). My boss advised me against it. I did not understand why but I simply listened to him as he was my idol. That very year, my old job took me places that I thought existed only in movies.

    ‘Hard Work.’ Remember that, my friends.
    Graduation does not mean the end of it. It’s simply the beginning of a new chapter. No job is too small. Do not worry about job security. It’s in your hands. As long as you are good, everybody will need you. Get a foothold first, open doors if you have to, but grow like all things. Nothing can stop growth.
    Be Somebody.

  2. Your excellency – very interesting that our posts today are on the same topic – our graduates. I reproduce my post here but without the links which do not work –
    An unemployment level of 4%, prospects of a smaller civil service and the layoffs in the private sector aren’t good news for you all. Our job market has become more challenging in recent times.

    All of you sound incredibly talented and well grounded, and I am sure that your expectations are realistic. You don’t normally graduate again. So take some time to assess where you want to go on from here but be ready to be disappointed in your search.

    For many reasons, everybody aspires to work in the civil service. Yes – it provides wide ranging opportunities – from attending to the public to working on a national policy – but you can also become a clone (a typical civil servant who is satisfied with life). So be sure that you have good networking skills – they are useful at all stages and places. You should also have a huge supply of tolerance and patience to see you through long meetings, demanding bosses and people who complain how inefficient civil servants are. If you have good ideas – better. If you don’t have any – be open and willing to explore. Work hard, voice your thoughts and take initiatives (although these may not be demanded of you). Avoid the temptation of being a ‘YES’ man and develop a reputation for delivering results.

    But if you are entrepreneurial and enjoy working really hard, consider working for a private company or starting something new. All you need is a good idea and a lot of passion. You will develop commercial skills that will place you well to take advantage of our economy which is being liberalised. And Bhutan needs more entrepreneurs. With our Government committed to developing the sector, the opportunities will only increase.

    Another option is to go for higher studies but personally, I think, a few years of working experience makes pursuing a post-graduate degree more enriching. And you could still be looking for work after three years.

    But if you aren’t interested in any of these, there is yet another career path you could choose –

    You have a degree and qualify to to represent your people in the national assembly. Network and develop your political capital. Go home and establish your credentials. I hear that being an MP isn’t a difficult job. My convictions come from desiring to see or hear of something substantial done by them. I could be wrong. But you have a good opportunity to prove that MPs need more talents than just the ability to be either garrulous in their arguments or subservient in their conduct.

    Finally as your start looking for jobs, enhance your CV either by volunteering your time or learning something new. And maintain a lot of positivity and modest level of overconfidence (overconfidence does help).

    All the best.


  3. When everyone talks about getting employed away from civil service it means joining private sector which the government also encourages it as the engine of economic growth of the nation. However, i have failed to understand why our top companies of Bhutan rarely recruit our people, the Bhutanese. Today if we look closely in the top companies of Bhutan most are expatriates holding the top positions of the companies. And many expatriates at all the levels.

    Why are they not encouraging out youths to work there. The reason of Bhutanese can not perfom like them can not be bought because Bhutanese excel if given good guidance and motivation, and it would be a matter of time when our Bhutanese take the top positions in these companies. A Bhutanese in this position would help the country grow instead of expatriates who would work only for themselves.

    Many companies to shoo away the Bhutanese joining the companies offer very less rumeneration. It is a deceive to our own people and a trick to the country. They are infact preventing our economy to grow.

    Although no hard facts to prove but there would not be much deviation from what i mentioned even if there be any.

    Therefore, there are jobs and many jobs for all. It is a matter of our CEOs to open up and start a pay back time.

  4. Follow your heart, not your relatives!

    There is no short cut to success. If there comes one, don’t take it because you will fall one day.

    Good luck!

  5. Linda wangmo says

    Dear Lunpola

    I am sorry that I have to comment on something thats out of topic.

    Its been few days since the UN General meeting ended.I dont expect the New York Post or New york times to do the covarage on the Bhutanese delegation part but I feel that The Bhutanese media should at least do some write ups about our OL attending the General Assembly. Had it been our Prime Misister than I am sure our Media would have a full covarage of whats happening. The Prime Ministers speach on GNH in Japan has been the headline. Is our OL attending the General Assembly not important or Is the media singling out our OL. I think its not fair. The media should not be the puppet to the Government

  6. I like this – “Be somebody.” I would like to add… it’s important to recognize ‘you’re somebody’ in your own eyes first because you know ‘you’ the best. Convincing yourself is as important (and sometimes more) as convincing others that ‘you’re somebody.’ In other words, recognize your own ‘strengths’ and work on them hard enough to make them your lifetime gadget. Remember! At the end of the day, it is you who has to take care of ‘you.’

  7. OL, that was well written. Yes, be somebody!
    BUT HOW? This is the pertinent question we must be asking ourselves.

    Career counselling without any solid job market infrastructure supporting it is just like a political campaign filling the air with fantastic promises which can never be realized. I am sorry OL but it is difficult for me to appreciate Lyonpo Sangay built tens of hundreds of empty and under-staffed BHUS all over the hillsides of Bhutan compromising the quality of health care services provided by these BHUs. At the end, what happened? He looked good and got the fame and people continued to suffer as before. If you have read the RAA report on MoH, you will have a better perspective of what our leaders SHOULD AND COULD HAVE DONE but they DIDN’T which ultimately led to the pathetic state of our healthcare system at present.

    A huge chunk of the government fund is wasted in organising such programs as career counselling tours and annual orientation programs. These programs fill our young people with information and hopes but provide no solid avenues and real solutions to become somebody in real life. At the end, our young people are left high and dry.

    Let me conclude: at this point of time in our country where the unemployment rate is piercing the sky, it is imperative and urgent that our government create real jobs and avenues to provide “gainful employment” to make our youngsters somebody. Otherwise, our country can not walk forward if we keep enacting shows and making empty promises.
    Life is real and we must do something to provide real jobs, real careers,and real employments for our young generations. The PM has promised he will create 60,000jobs within 2 years. I will see if that was his political campaign speech for the next election or he really meant what he said.

    If you care for this mundane world, you need more realtime things in Bhutan- real jobs, real products, real produces, real per-capitas, real money, real life. If you don’t care for this mundane world, you may go and become a monk and seek GNH and the inner peace and be somebody!!

  8. Sadly, Bhutan is no exception to economic development theory that predicts that material economic development has limit to what it can absorb or sustain. Bhutan will continue to face recession, unemploymnet, pollution, natural disaster, chaos, social disruption, depletion of natural resources to satisfy the greed of few corporations or business entities; more and more youth will remain unemployed because there is limit to what government, private enterprise can employ. Where is the solution??

    Perhaps, reproduce less–not more than two children per family so that our number is agreement with natural carrying capacities; Go back to villages and engage in simple but sustainable and rewarding livelihood activities; Do not waste time looking for job in towns and cities because there are only few and hundreds are competing for few jobs.

    Politicians will make promise but most will remain empty promises.


  9. “Learning is not enough, we must to apply. willing is not enough, we must do”


  1. […] year, I blogged about what I would have spoken about had I been able to meet the graduates. And over the weekend, I’ve […]

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