Aston Celebrates Graduate Success

Aston University is to host three graduation ceremonies in the grand surroundings of Birmingham Town Hall on Tuesday 22 March, celebrating the success and hard work of over 1000 of its students.

18 March 2016

Aston University is to host three graduation ceremonies in the grand surroundings of Birmingham Town Hall on Tuesday 22 March, celebrating the success and hard work of over 1000 of its students.

This year’s graduation ceremonies are of particular significance as 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Aston as university. Aston was granted its Royal Charter on 22nd April 1966, completing the transformation from a College of Advanced Technology into a university.

There will be three postgraduate and foundation degree ceremonies in total at the grade-1 listed landmark, which first opened as a music hall in 1834. Students from across Aston’s four Schools will graduate and be commended for their hard work.

During the ceremonies, the University will also be awarding nine honorary degrees to leading individuals in fields such as business, banking, healthcare, politics and education - eight of whom studied at Aston and are alumni of the university.

Honorary degree recipients in March are: Barbara Cattell, Professor the Honourable Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, Sultan Choudhury, Santrupt Misra, Professor Kevin Morley, Vikas Pota, Viswas Raghavan, Shriti Vadera and Haresh Vaswani. 

Barbara Cattell
Born in 1934 from humble beginnings and evacuated from Birmingham during the Second World War for two years, Barbara was one of the first to benefit from free Grammar School education in 1945. On leaving school, following the advice of an inspirational pharmacist, she was encouraged to qualify. Aided by a grant from the City Fathers, Barbara attended the College of Advanced Technology in the 1950’s which later became Aston University and was awarded the Thomas Chase Prize by the Pharmaceutical Society and registered as a “Pharmaceutical Chemist” in 1955. 

Barbara has served as a Justice of the Peace and worked as a volunteer for various charities including Spina Bifida Association, NSPCC and Inner Wheel.

Professor the Honourable Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, GBS, JP
Professor Anthony Cheung is Secretary for Transport and Housing of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China and Chairman of the Hong Kong Housing Authority. Before joining government in July 2012, he was Professor at the City University of Hong  Kong and then President of the Hong Kong Institute of Education and Chair of Public Administration since 2008. 

Professor Cheung has been active in public service and community affairs. Apart from involvement in policy think tanks and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), he was also Chairman of the Hong Kong Consumer Council (2007-2012), Member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council (2005-2012), and Member of Legislative Council (1995-1997).  He obtained an MSc degree in Public Sector Management at Aston University in 1983.

Sultan Choudhury
Sultan Choudhury is Chief Executive Officer and Director at Al Rayan Bank PLC, formerly known as the Islamic Bank of Britain. The bank’s longest serving employee, Sultan joined the bank before it was formed in early 2004 and played an instrumental role as part of the founding management team that obtained Western Europe’s first authorised Islamic Banking licence.

Since then Sultan has set up Al Rayan Bank’s Head Office operations capability, developed its full product range and implemented its branch, telephony, online sales and service delivery channels. As a result, Al Rayan Bank now offers the largest range of Islamic Retail Financial products in the UK together with a Commercial and Premier Banking offering and has attracted over 60,000 customers. He holds an MBA from Aston University.

Santrupt Misra
Dr Santrupt Misra is Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Black Business and Director of Group Human Resources for the US $42 billion conglomerate Aditya Birla Group. He is a Director on the Boards of several Aditya Birla Group companies and other professional bodies.

Dr Misra has over 30 years’ experience in International Business, Organisation and Human Resource Management and has had prior professional work experience with the JK Group, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Unilever, India. He was named the Global CEO for the Year 2014 by CEO Magazine. He has two PhDs (one from Aston University) in Public Administration and Industrial Relations.

Professor Kevin Morley
Kevin Morley joined Ford Motor Company in 1977 before being appointed Marketing Director of Rover Group in 1986. In 1988 he was promoted to Sales and Marketing Director, then Commercial Director and in 1990 became Managing Director of Rover Group Cars and a member of the Rover Group Board. Instrumental in turning Rover Group around and making it profitable for the first time in over a decade, he left the company in 1992 to set up his own integrated marketing agency. He then grew KMM to become the 6th largest agency in Europe with over £200 million turnover and 300 staff in seven countries before it was purchased by Interpublic in 1995.

He undertook an MSc and MBA at Aston University and is associated with many charities. He is also a Freeman of the City of London, and an Honorary Professor at Aston University.

Vikas Pota
Vikas Pota is Chief Executive of the Varkey Foundation, a registered charity seeking to improve global teacher capacity and promoting universal access to quality education. He has embarked on a programme to train 250,000 teachers in classroom pedagogy and is responsible for the development of the Global Teacher Status Index, which has resulted in the launch of the Global Teacher Prize, which celebrates the achievement of classroom teachers.

Vikas is the convener of the Global Education and Skills Forum which has been dubbed as the ‘Davos of Education’ where he has launched, in partnership with the UN, a global advocacy campaign called ‘Business backs Education’ to rally the private sector to deepen its engagementwith global education initiatives. Commercially, Vikas is a Board Member for Arc Skills, which has set itself the mission to skill and train a million people into jobs in Africa.

Viswas Raghavan
Viswas (“Vis”) Raghavan is Deputy Chief Executive Officer for J.P. Morgan in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He is also Head of Banking for the region’s Corporate and Investment Bank. Based in London, he has over 25 years of corporate finance experience.

As Deputy CEO for EMEA, Vis works with the CEO, Senior Country Officers and business heads across J.P. Morgan to ensure that clients are able to take full advantage of the firm’s local knowledge and global capabilities, across all businesses. In addition, as Head of Banking for EMEA, Vis leads a team of coverage and product bankers across the region responsible for corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, treasury services and transaction banking.

Vis graduated from the University of Bombay, India with a BSc in Physics and holds a BSc Honours Degree in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science from Aston University.

Shriti Vadera
Shriti Vadera is Chairman of Santander UK, Senior Independent Director of BHP Billiton and non-executive director of AstraZeneca. She has 30 years’ international experience in the public and private sector which has given her a unique understanding of the interaction between finance and markets, governments and policy, and international economics and geopolitics.

She was a Minister in the UK Government from 2007 to 2009, in the Cabinet Office, the business Department and the International Development Department. She led the UK Government’s response to the financial crisis and was a key architect of its pioneering bank recapitalisation and funding plan in 2008. Shriti helped design and negotiate the outcome of the G20 London Summit in April 2009.

Haresh VaswaniHaresh Vaswani is the Vice-Chairman and a member of the Board of Directors of Stallion Group, a multinational conglomerate headquartered in Dubai with a presence in 18 countries. Today, the Group holds an impressive array of 19 automobile distributorships  from the world’s leading manufacturers such as Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Porsche, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Ashok Leyland, IVECO and others. 

Holding an MBA from Aston University and with over two decades of experience in managing businesses in West Africa and the Middle East, he is continuously involved in designing, researching and implementing modern and innovative methods and strategies, combining his genealogical background with his business education. 

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For further information, please contact Louise Ciaravella, University Communications at or 0121 204 4637.

Notes to Editors

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University  has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.

True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, the year-long anniversary celebration sees Aston celebrating heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey.