Graduation Ceremonies honour leading figures

Aston University Graduates

5 July 2012

Aston University held its graduation ceremonies in the splendour of Birmingham’s Town Hall last week (Monday, July 9). There were nine degree ceremonies in total at the grade-1 listed landmark, which first opened as a music hall in 1834. It saw more than 1,800 students process throughout the week, with over 2,000 Aston University students graduating in total this year.

During the ceremony, the University also presented eleven honorary degrees to leading figures in the fields of business, science, engineering and politics. These were Professor Padma Vasudevan Sen; Professor Pradeep Kumar Sen; Lord Kenneth Baker; Councillor Mike Whitby; Dame Sally Davies; Dr John Bamforth; Dr Susan Mahony; Dr Bahaa El Din El Shaarani; Mr Woon Wing Yip OBE; Professor Binna Kandola OBE and the RT Hon Lord Kinnock.

Professor Padma Vasudevan Sen Monday 9th July at 2.30pm

Professor Padma Vasudevan is a Professor in the Department of Applied Mechanics at IIT Delhi, specialising in Polymer Science. She joined I.I.T. Delhi as a member of the Department of Chemistry and worked at the Centre for Biomedical Engineering in the area of Polymer Applications in Medicine Surgery before moving on to the Centre for Rural Development & Technology, I.I.T. Delhi, where she has been working over the last 30 years on the Application of Science & Technology for Sustainable Development with focus on inclusive growth, renewable energy and material resources and water management.

She has guided more than fifty Ph.D theses and has published more than 200 research papers. She has handled several National and International projects and is currently collaborating on projects with Aston.

She was WHO National Consultant at the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission in India, our Government of India body. She is recipient of several awards including C.M. Patel Vasvik Industrial Research award and Kshanika Oration Award of ICMR.

Professor Pradeep Kumar Sen Monday 9th July at 2.30pm

Professor Pradeep Kumar Sen is a Professor and Emeritus Fellow at the Department of Applied Mechanics, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He has worked at IIT Delhi since 1966.

He is a Life Member of the National Society of Fluid Mechanics and Fluid Power in India and also the Society of Mechanical Engineers, India. He is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering, FNAE, India. He was a visiting Professor at the University of Warwick from June 2002 to 2007. Professor Sen has also undertaken several sponsored research projects throughout his career including two collaboration projects with Aston University.

Lord Kenneth Baker Tuesday 10th July at 11.00am

Kenneth Baker was a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1968 to 1997. He was the first Minister for Information Technology, responsible for introducing computers into schools, the privatisation of British Telecom and Cable & Wireless, and the establishment of the cable industry. His Cabinet posts included Environment Secretary, Education Secretary, and Home Secretary.

As Education Secretary Kenneth Baker introduced his Great Education Reform Bill which revolutionized English education. The National Curriculum, testing and league tables came into being; schools were given control over their own budgets; City Technology Colleges were established and became forerunners of specialist schools and Academies; all schools had the chance of greater freedom by becoming grant -maintained; and polytechnics were freed from council control and set on their path to become universities.

Lord Baker is currently spearheading a new type of school for 14-19 year olds based on vocational skills: University Technical Colleges. He is currently Chairman of the Baker-Dearing Educational Trust which promotes UTCs and of Edge, an independent education foundation dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning.

Councillor Mike Whitby Tuesday 10th July at 2.30pm

Born and educated in Birmingham, Councillor Mike Whitby has been active in politics since 1979 when he joined the Conservative Party. Mike has been a Conservative Councillor for Harborne since 1997; he became the Leader of Birmingham City Council in 2004 leading the city in a Progressive Partnership with the Liberal Democrats until 2012. Mike is, in fact, the second-longest serving Leader in Birmingham City Council’s history.

During his time as Leader he made a commitment to taking Birmingham on a “journey towards excellence”, and was responsible for turning around a number of failing service areas, delivering record high levels of resident satisfaction, and delivering the lowest Council tax increases of any Metropolitan authority in England.

Mike is synonymous with transformational infrastructure developments across Birmingham, including the £600m New Street Station development, and the £188m new Library of Birmingham (which upon completion next year will be the largest public library in Europe).

Outside of politics Mike is a successful local businessman and entrepreneur. He is currently Chairman and Managing Director of Skeldings, a local engineering company with over 100 years of history.

Dame Sally Davies Wednesday 11th July at 11.00am

Dame Sally became Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government on 3 March 2010. She retains responsibility for Research and Development, and is the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health.

Dame Sally is independent advisor to the Government on medical matters, with particular responsibilities regarding Public Health. She provides professional leadership for Directors of Public Health and will lead a public health professional network for those responsible for public health services. She is professional head of the Department’s medical staff and head of the Medical Civil service.

Sally has been actively involved in NHS R&D from its establishment and founded the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) with a budget of £1 billion. She has advised many others on research strategy. Her own research interests focused on sickle cell disease.

Dr John Bamforth Wednesday 11th July at 2.30pm

John Bamforth is Senior Director of Global Marketing for Internal Medicine Brands at Eli Lilly and Company.

He led the successful launch of the world’s fastest growing brand in the PDE-5i category, Cialis, which sold $1.9Bn in 2011. John also worked on the team responsible for the acquisition of the ICOS Corporation in 2007 for $2.7Bn. In 2005, John’s Cialis team was recognized ‘Marketing Team of the Year’ in the American Business

Awards and has twice won ‘Marketing Team of the Year’ at Lilly. In 2005, he was awarded the Lancaster Award as ‘Coach of the Year’ and was recognized by Pharma Voice magazine in 2007 as one of the pharmaceutical industry’s top 100 ‘Most Inspiring People’.

John has 23 years of broad experience in the pharmaceutical Industry, all of which has been with Eli Lilly and Company who he joined after completing his PhD at Aston University.

Dr Susan Mahony Wednesday 11th July at 2.30pm

Dr Sue Mahony became president of Lilly Oncology in March 2011. She is also a senior vice president for Eli Lilly and Company and a member of the company’s executive committee. In May 2009, she was appointed senior vice president, human resources and diversity for Lilly. Previously, she led Lilly’s operations in Canada.

Dr Mahony was born and educated in the United Kingdom, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Aston University in Great Britain. She obtained her Ph.D. in pharmacy in 1989 in the Cancer Research Campaign Experimental Chemotherapy Group also at Aston University. She then received a master’s degree in business administration in 1998 from the London School of Business.

Dr Mahony joined Lilly in 2000 after more than a decade in sales and marketing roles in the United Kingdom and Europe. In 2010, Sue was recognised as one of the Indianapolis Business Journal’s “Women of Influence” and has also served on the board of the United Way of Central Indiana since 2010.

Dr Bahaa El Din El Shaarani Thursday 12th July at 11.00am

Dr Bahaa EI-Shaarani is the Chairman of the Shaarani Group (SG). Founded in 1990, SG has 11 offices in the Middle East and North Africa. In his role, Dr EI-Shaarani controls SG’s Joint Ventures, Subsidiaries, and Technical Centres of Excellence.

As a Partner and Board Member of these companies, Dr EI-Shaarani took the lead in positioning these companies as globally renowned specialities within the international construction market in North Africa and the Middle East. With this extensive outreach and influential impact on key industrial markets, Dr EI-Shaarani is also the Founder and Partner of RENTECH Seoul based in South Korea.

Prior to his senior leadership roles in the Shaarani Group, Dr EI-Shaarani served as a consultant/advisor for Zimmer Inc. USA in the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr EI-Shaarani is currently a member of the Arabian Union of Health and Food of the Arab League. Dr EI-Shaarani is the sponsor of the El Shaarani Centre for Islamic Business and Finance at Aston University and is a leader friend of Zeweil City for Research.

Mr Woon Wing Yip OBE –Thursday 12th July at 2.30pm

Mr Wing Yip arrived from Hong Kong in 1959 and has since become the UK’s most successful Chinese businessmen.

When he first arrived in the UK, he worked as a tea and coffee maker. Eighteen months later, Wing and business partners opened their first Chinese restaurant in Clacton on Sea. Due to its success, this was quickly followed by the opening of two other restaurants and one takeaway in East Anglia. In 1970, Wing Yip and his brother Sammy opened their first specialist Chinese grocer in the heart of Birmingham.

Wing Yip founded the W Wing Yip and Brothers Bursaries to encourage and provide financial assistance to students of Chinese origin, local and from overseas, to complete their studies in the United Kingdom. Since it was established, over 300 bursaries have been granted plus 30 scholarships for students from China to study at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Birmingham hosts a Chinese pagoda - a gift from Wing and his brothers as a thank you to the city which enabled their business to become so successful. The pagoda is hand carved from solid granite and stands 40ft high. Created in China, it was shipped over to the UK in sections and assembled on site.

In 2010, Wing was awarded an OBE for services to the Oriental food industry in the New Year Honours List, shortly followed by a lifetime achievement award at the World Food Awards.

Professor Binna Kandola –Friday 13th July at 11.00am

Binna Kandola was born in Warwick in 1956. He obtained a degree in psychology from the University College Cardiff before going on to do his MSc in Occupational Psychology at the University of Sheffield. He obtained a PhD from Aston University researching the fair use of selection tests.

He worked for two years at test publishers Saville and Holdsworth and in 1984 he set up his own business with his friend and mentor, Michael Pearn. Pearn Kandola is now one of the country’s leading business psychology practices.

Binna’s own interests encompass leadership development and diversity. He has published several books, one of which was given a special commendation at the Management Book of the Year Awards. His latest book is on his current passion, that of unconscious bias.

He was recognised by the Independent on Sunday as on one of the country’s leading occupational psychologists and was awarded an OBE in 2008.

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