Notable alumni


Honorary Graduates - January 2018


Sacha Romanovitch

ABOUT Sacha Romanovitch

Sacha Romanovitch is the UK Chief Executive Officer of Grant Thornton and the first woman to lead a major City accountancy firm. After studying for an MA in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, she joined a small accountancy business in Windsor before relocating to London when the firm merged with Grant Thornton in 1994. She was made a Partner in 2001 and in 2008 joined the firm’s National Leadership Board with specific responsibility for People and Culture, overseeing the development of the UK workforce of more than 4,500 employees.

Appointed CEO in 2015, she is deeply interested in the role of leadership in dynamic organisations and how a strong coaching culture releases potential and generates growth. Her goal is to work to shape a vibrant economy where all can flourish. She is Chair of the Patron Group for Access Acountancy, the profession-wide initiative to increase diversity, as well as an Editorial Board Member for Economia magazine. In 2009, she was awarded the Women in the City Woman of Achievement Award and named Jaguar Woman of the Year.

Vasily Petrenko

About Vasily Petrenko

Vasily Petrenko is one of the most highly regarded conductors in the world. As principal conductor ofthe Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO), he was the youngest-ever conductor appointed to the post. He received critical praise for revitalising the orchestra and bringing them to the attention of an international audience.

His strong interest in public engagement and encouraging access to musical education, has improved the profile of classical music amongst young people. Vasily was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, ‘Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century’, to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert.

Vasily served as Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, conducting his first concert with them at the 2009 BBC Proms. He has also been actively involved in developing an‘Unlocking Potential’ school engagement programme enabling more than 300,000 children in England to experience an orchestral concert during their time at school.

Orla Guerin MBE

About Orla Guerin

Orla Guerin is an award-winning journalist, currently based in Cairo for BBC News. She began her career in newspapers in Dublin before joining RTÉ News in 1987. In 1990 she became the broadcaster’s youngest foreign correspondent at the age of 23, covering Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

After moving to the BBC in 1995, Orla had a brief stint in Los Angeles before becoming Southern Europe Correspondent and returning to the Balkans to report on the unfolding crises in Kosovo. A short period in Moscow followed, where she covered the Kursk submarine crisis, before beginning a five-year stint as the BBC’s Middle East Correspondent based in Jerusalem.

In 2006 Orla took up the post of Africa Correspondent, based in Johannesburg. She moved to Islamabad in 2009 for a four-year stint covering Pakistan. Orla has been awarded the News and Factual Award by Women in Film and Television UK, the Broadcaster of the Year Award from the London Press Club, the David Bloom Award (USA) and an Honorary MBE in 2005.

Alfred Brendel KBE

About Alfred Brendel

Alfred Brende KBE is regarded as one of the greatest pianists in the world, known particularly for hisperformances of Mozart, Schubert, Schoenberg, and Beethoven. He was born in Wiesenberg, Czechoslovakia and began piano lessons at the age of six.

With very little piano training, he went on to perform his first public recital at the age of 17 as a self-taught performer and his breakthrough came after a recital of Beethoven at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the day after which three major record labels called his agent. He is only the third pianist to have been awarded honorary membership of the Vienna Philharmonic, and he was awarded the Hans von Bülow Medal by the Berlin Philharmonic. He went on to be the first performer to record the complete solo piano works of Beethoven. As a writer of books and poetry, his literature has appeared in many languages including English, German, and Japanese, Korean, and other languages.

Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya CBE FREng FRS

About Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya

Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya is an engineer, educator and government advisor. He began his career as a graduate apprentice at Lucas Industries and subsequently gained an MSc in Engineering Production and Management, and a PhD in Engineering Production at the University of Birmingham. In 1980, he became Professor of Manufacturing Systems at the University of Warwick and founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) to help business innovate and university researchers to change lives. Today, WMG is one of the world’s top applied research centres, with a reputation for academic excellence and business results spanning the globe.

Throughout his career, Lord Bhattacharyya has brokered significant partnerships, including the acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover by Tata. He has advised industry and governments internationally, sat on the UK Council for Science and Technology, and chaired Singapore’s manufacturing excellence awards. He is a Fellow of The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was appointed a CBE in 1997, knighted in 2003 for services to education and industry, and made a life peer in 2004.

Rob Wilmot

About Rob Wilmot

Rob Wilmot is one of the three founding executives of Freeserve. Launched by the retailer Dixon in 1998, Freeserve became the UK’s largest Internet Service Provider in just three months, with Rob becoming one of the youngest ever executive officers of a FTSE 100 company. He left Freeserve shortly after Dixons sold the company to France Telecom for £1.6 billion in 2001.

Rob has since founded and invested in a number of businesses, and is Entrepreneur in Residence at York where he is helping the University with the commercialisation of research, including AI and machine learning. He is the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Crowdicity, a cloud-based open innovation platform for ideas generation and knowledge transfer; Chairman at bcsAgency, a tech-based marketing and communications consultancy; co-founder of ArtLibrary, a revolutionary tool for artists to record, manage and share their works; and a Non-Executive Director of the Crown Commercial Service, an executive agency sponsored by the Cabinet Office.

Rob was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2013 for his work in education.

President Horst Köhler

About President Horst Köhler

Horst Köhler was President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 2004 to 2010.

He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Tübingen and started his civil service career at the Federal Ministry of Economics in Bonn in 1976. He was appointed state secretary in 1990, negotiating both the German-German monetary union and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from East Germany. He was also Germany’s chief-negotiator of the Maastricht Treaty on the Economic and Monetary Union, and the Personal Representative of Chancellor Helmut Kohl for several G7 summits.

In 1993, he left the Federal Government to become President of the German Savings Banks Association. In 1998, he returned to the public sector as President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Two years later, he was appointed Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

He became President of Germany in 2004 and both in office and subsequently, has championed a better partnership with Africa, a global transformation towards sustainability, and an approach to international politics based on cooperation and trust.

Vivian Hunt

About Vivian Hunt

Vivian Hunt, managing partner of consultancy firm McKinsey, leads the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products Practice in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. She serves leading pharmaceutical companies on a broad range of strategy, development, and organisational topics.

As a dedicated advocate for diversity in the workplace, Vivian is a leader of the firm’s women’s initiatives, speaking often about their ‘Women Matter’ campaign, which links the role of women in the workplace to positive shareholder returns. Vivian has been recognised for her achievements by the UK Black British Powerlist, where she was named the most influential black woman in Britain; by the Financial Times, where she was named one of the European Women to Watch; and by her inclusion in the Debrett’s 500, which recognises the most influential and inspiring people living and working in Britain today.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, she joined the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, where she worked as a midwife and primary care worker for more than two years.