Among all the questions posed to students during their years of schooling, and all those they’ve asked themselves throughout their college years, School of Information Studies Convocation speaker and EY executive Ken Bouyer pitched the graduates a few more.

“Whose shoulders are you standing on?” he questioned, explaining, “None of us got here alone.” And then: “What’s the next phase of questions you’ll face?”

Bouyer, EY’s director of inclusiveness recruiting, told the iSchool’s 2016 graduating classes that from now on, the questions they will ask, and answer, in life will be of a very different nature than the ones they’ve used to learn and to collect information. Now, “those questions are going to make the world better,” he said. That’s because questions aren’t simply what you ask when you don’t know; they serve as tools you can use to bridge cultures, different workstyles, diverse backgrounds, and opposing viewpoints, he advised. “Questions are what you ask when you want to unlock possibilities, harness the power of different perspectives, drive innovation. They’re what you ask when you refuse to settle for the way it’s always been, when you want to grow, develop and improve yourself and the world around you,” Bouyer said.  

In the kind of global workplace the graduates are entering, they will work with peers, customers and clients from all over the world, Bouyer noted. Yet even as businesses employ all types of technology, they nevertheless are comprised of people, and asking questions will be a useful way to make technology work for people, he added. Noting that asking questions in the workplace will help graduates build trust and relationships with people of different backgrounds, skills and cultural experiences, Bouyer admitted that nevertheless, asking questions of others isn’t always easy. “It requires courage to put yourself out there that way. But as long as your questions are coming from a place of genuine curiosity, honesty and authenticity, as well as humility, you will be better off for it.”

Given their information and technology backgrounds, Bouyer suggested that the graduates have the know-how to apply technology to solve complex problems and to open doors of opportunity.  He assured them, “It is the questions you’ll ask in the next phase of your careers that will open doors of opportunity…that will open you to the human element driving the need for technology. Those questions will make you a better professional, they’ll enrich the people around you, they’ll ensure the success of your endeavors, and they will help change the world around you for the better.”

Bouyer has been with EY since 1990. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Manhattan College. He also serves on the dean’s advisory council at North Carolina A&T, the accounting advisory board at Arizona State University, and on the corporate advisory partners council at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is a lifetime member and a current corporate advisory board member of both the National Association of Black Accountants and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting organization. He is a past board member and international president of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information students and professionals. He also has served on the board of directors for the Federation for the Schools of Accountancy.

Watch Ken Bouyer’s Speech to Graduates