LEARN from failure, embrace diversity, be fully prepared to take advantage of luck and be willing to have fun at work.

These were some of the lessons in life given by distinguished business figure when they spoke to new graduates of the University of Huddersfield at an awards ceremony, in the presence of the Chancellor, HRH The Duke of York, KG.

New graduates of the University’s Business School were receiving their awards, and at the same ceremony Honorary Doctorates of the University were conferred on Ann Francke, who is CEO of the Chartered Management Institute; Simon Blagden CBE, whose roles include the chairmanship of IT giant Fujitsu; and Chris Brown OBE, a business executive who has stood down after a long spell chairing the University of Huddersfield’s governing council.

Orations to recipients of Honorary Doctorates were delivered by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Bob Cryan.

Video News

In the video. view the three business leaders receive their awards and hear the inspirational speeches delivered to the students graduating from the Business School from Ann Francke of the Chartered Management Institute and Simon Blagden CBE, whose roles include the chairmanship of IT giant Fujitsu.

Simon Blagden CBE

He describes Simon Blagden as “a proud Yorkshireman with a global outlook” and provided details of his varied and successful career, working in senior positions in some of the most globally-recognised technology and telecommunications companies.

“With his international reach, Simon has spent a career championing British business overseas − and at home has been outspoken regarding the need for continuing skills development amongst the UK workforce, particularly in young people.  During his time at Fujitsu, it has come to be regarded as a champion of gender balance in a technically-skilled workforce,” said Professor Cryan.

When Mr Blagden spoke he analysed the relationship between success and hard work and added that “it’s OK for you to enjoy your work.  It’s OK to have fun.”

“Very few people achieve things on their own,” he continued.  “So surround yourself with good people and people you want to be with.”

He also spoke about the role of luck, rarely dealt with in books about business.

“The thing about luck is that you have to be ready for it, when the opportunity comes.  The studies you have just completed are part of being prepared,” Mr Blagden told the audience of graduates.

Chris Brown OBE

When Chris Brown received his award, Professor Cryan described his many successes as a businessman, a competitive swimmer and as a former High Sheriff of West Yorkshire.

He added that: “Chris Brown is a passionate believer in Higher Education – its power to transform individual lives and enable the regeneration of communities.  This philosophy is a perfect fit with the ideals of the University of Huddersfield, leading to his long and fruitful connection with this institution.”

In response, Mr Brown said that the University of Huddersfield had forged a very special niche in the Higher Education Sector. It had developed unique skills in teaching and was also leading research in a wide range of subjects and fields.

“Out of that background inevitably come unique graduates,” said Mr Brown.  “I hope you will let the world know what a great institution the University of Huddersfield is.”

Ann Francke

Delivering an oration for Ann Francke, Professor Cryan outlined her “long and distinguished record of achievement in leadership and management”, which included posts with famous companies such as Procter and Gamble, Boots and Mars.

Improvement of standards in leadership and management has been a particular focus of her time as CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, said Professor Cryan, who also cited her work on gender equality and the gender pay gap. 

In response, Ann Francke urged the assembled business graduates to “go forth and become an inspirational manager”.

“When you have a bad boss at work it drags down every day.  I see this in productivity figures.  When you have a great boss, it is the number one driver of productivity,” she continued, adding that “great management and leadership can be learned.  You must learn it every day and practise it every day.”

She also urged the graduates to be champions of diversity.  “You have learned in your time at Huddersfield how to be inclusive,” she said.  “Please keep that as you go forward.”

Diversity delivers results, she said, producing figures that showed how improvements in gender balance have added £50 billion to the UK economy.