Honorary graduates and fellowships 2023

Honorary graduates

At each of our Graduation ceremonies we bestow honorary degrees on distinguished people who have had major influence in the subject areas in which we specialise.

Here are the biographies of the honorary granduands that we are proud to appoint in 2023.

Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes CBE

Deputy Commander UK Strategic Command, UK Defence

Tom’s early career was spent with The Royal Green Jackets and The Rifles on operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. He completed an MSc in Global Security with Cranfield University in 2001.

For the past 10 years he has focused on how the Army and Defence can make better use of its data and information, whether in supporting traditional warfighting; running the business of Defence more productively; or employed as a weapon in its own right.

In 2014, Tom formed and commanded the Army’s 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade, to integrate the Army’s intelligence collection and exploitation capabilities.

In 2017, after a year as the Army’s Operations Officer, he developed the Information Manoeuvre concept to integrate the Army’s information-centric capabilities.

Then in 2018, Tom led 30,000 of the British Army’s specialist soldiers in delivering Information Manoeuvre and Theatre Enablement. The formation pioneered the Army’s response to a new era of great power competition below the threshold of conflict, leading to its redesignation as 6th (UK) Division with a focus on unconventional warfare.

In 2019, Tom took up a newly created post in Defence Digital, as Director of Military Digitisation, to accelerate UK Defence’s adoption and exploitation of data and digital technologies. He led a development review of Defence’s Digital Proposition, based on the delivery of a singular, secure, modern digital backbone and a bespoke defence software programme and was responsible for delivering the digital transformation portfolio.

In May 2022, Tom assumed the role of Deputy Commander Strategic Command, on promotion to Lieutenant General, where he is responsible for overseeing multi domain integration; coherent development of the cyber domain; and a wide range of other duties.

UK MoD Crown Copyright 2020

“It’s hard to convey just how surprised and delighted I am to be accepting this Honorary Doctorate. I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey into the world of data, digital, cyber and AI, not least because I’ve found that it’s more about people than technology.

I wouldn’t have survived the past ten years, let alone thrived, without the patience and generosity of the many specialists, scientists, coders and technologists who have educated me. I’ve drawn on a passion for through-life learning that was inculcated by the many teachers who invested in my formal education over the years. It is these people that I’d like to thank as I humbly accept this honour from Cranfield University.”
“I am extremely proud to have been awarded an honorary degree from Cranfield University. The next decade is a crucial one for addressing the climate and nature crisis, and Cranfield has an important role to play in providing the underpinning science which will deliver sustainable land use.

This year’s graduates will enter the world well equipped to provide invaluable contributions to the future of our planet.”

Professor Rosie Hails MBE FRSB

Nature and Science Director at the National Trust

Rosie is an ecologist and the Nature and Science Director at the National Trust and holds honorary chairs at Exeter and Cranfield Universities. Her role is to develop the National Trust’s nature strategy and research portfolio and advise on science evidence relevant to decision making. She leads teams focusing on nature conservation, environmental research and data, trees and woodland creation, wildlife management, land use, farming and public benefits delivered by nature. Rosie is also one of three Directors of ‘Renew’ – a ‘Changing the Environment’ programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and led by the University of Exeter and the National Trust Partnership.

She is a member of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Science Advisory Council, chairing the Biodiversity Targets Advisory Group, and a member of Defra’s Bovine Tuberculosis Partnership. She is also on several advisory boards. Formerly Rosie was the Science Director for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) from 2013 to 2018. She was awarded an MBE for services to Environmental Research in 2000.

Andrew Haines

Chief Executive, Network Rail and Great British Railways Transition Team Lead

Andrew was appointed as Chief Executive and Board member of Network Rail in August 2018. Prior to this, he served as Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority following a wide-ranging career in the rail industry, which included roles as Managing Director of South West Trains and Managing Director of the Rail Division for FirstGroup Plc.

Following the publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail in May 2021, Andrew was also tasked with establishing interim arrangements for the creation of Great British Railways (a new public body to integrate the railways and deliver passenger-focused travel with simpler, modern fares and reliable services), alongside his role in Network Rail.

Image by Peter Kindersley

“It is both an enormous privilege and great personal delight to have been awarded this honorary degree. I know from my own experience just how committed Cranfield is to equipping graduates with a first rate understanding and practical skills to thrive in a vibrant, complex and sometimes challenging business environment. 

Its success in doing so speaks for itself and it's wonderful to have joined the wider Cranfield family. To those of you who are graduating today, many, many congratulations.”

Teri Pengilley 2018

“I feel very privileged to be a recipient of an honorary degree from Cranfield University. Cranfield is globally renowned for the quality of its engineering and its leadership, two areas that are very close to my heart.

It is also a wonderful example of a university creating real-world impact by driving innovation for societal benefit. Congratulations to everyone who is graduating this year – I wish you all future success!”

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE

Chief Executive Officer at Royal Academy of Engineering and Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

Hayaatun co-chairs the UK Government’s Business Innovation Forum and co-chaired with Sir Lewis Hamilton on his Commission on improving black representation in motorsport. She is a trustee of various charities, member of the government’s Levelling Up Advisory Council and Digital Skills Council and Non-Executive Director at construction company Laing O’Rourke. She has been named as one of the ‘InspiringFifty’ women in European Tech (EQL:HER) and one of the most influential women in both UK engineering (Inclusive Boards in partnership with the Financial Times) and UK Tech (ComputerWeekly.com).

She has a master's in Biochemistry (MBiochem) from Oxford and a PhD from Cancer Research UK/UCL. She is a Fellow of the IET, Honorary Professor at UCL and Honorary Fellow at The Queen’s College, Oxford. She has received honorary doctorates from UCL, Imperial College London, Newcastle University, Brunel University London, the University of Huddersfield and University of Southampton, as well as a Science Suffrage Award and the Engineering Professor’s Council President’s Medal. She was a finalist for the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award and was made a CBE for services to International Engineering in 2019.

Prior to her current roles, she was Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Royal Academy of Engineering and served as Committee Specialist and later Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Grenville Turner

Property and technology entrepreneur

Grenville chairs a number of private equity backed property and technology-based companies including Yopa Online Estate Agents, BidX1 (an international property auction business) and Silbury Specialist Finance, as well as personally investing in a range of international businesses in the property and technology space.

Following a 30-year career in retail banking, in 2006 Grenville moved to more entrepreneurial roles. He became Chief Executive Officer of Countrywide Plc in 2007 when the business was taken private and remained until the business achieved a successful initial public offering (IPO) in 2013 with a 2014 valuation of £1.5bn. He then stepped down to begin his non-executive director career as well as developing his involvement in the not-for-profit sector including the Vice Chair role at the English National Ballet and non-executive Board seat with the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Grenville was one of the founding Directors at Rightmove, the online property portal, and a Director at Zoopla for eight years. He sat on the Boards of St James’s Place Plc and Realogy, the largest real estate business in the United States amongst others. He has chaired portfolio companies for several major private equity houses including Apollo, Oaktree, DMG Ventures, Pollen Street and Montagu.

Grenville is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and was awarded an honorary degree from the Scottish Chartered Institute of Bankers for his role as Chief Executive Officer of Intelligent Finance Bank based in Edinburgh. He holds an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from Cranfield University (1992) and was awarded the Alumni of the Year Award in 2016. He was also awarded an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014 for his work at Countrywide.

Challenge remains ever present for Grenville and his partner, Karen. They have completed seven full marathons including New York three times, climbed Kilimanjaro and Table Mountain (the hard way, not in the cable car), trekked several sections of the Great Wall of China and Grenville is now trying to get his golf handicap in to single figures (currently 11).

Grenville has two grown up children and five grandchildren.

“Over 30 years ago I chose to undertake an EMBA at Cranfield because of its reputation for not only academic rigour but also real-life application. Never did I expect it to have such a positive and transformational impact on my career and my life.

It has been my privilege to continue my involvement as an active supporter, sponsor of candidates, Member of Advisory Board and now in accepting this Honorary Doctorate. Thank you, Cranfield.”

Honorary fellowships

We also confer honorary fellowships on people who have contributed significantly in furthering the work or interests of the University.

“I am very humbled and honoured to receive this Fellowship of Cranfield University. I aim to put myself in the shoes of a student, to enable them to learn in a way that suits them and will help them to pursue their chosen careers.

It has been extremely gratifying to see how the knowledge and skills our students gain produces change in the management of many real-world issues.”

Tim Brewer

Former Senior Lecturer in Resource Survey and Director of Education, School of Water, Energy and Environment

Tim joined Cranfield as a master’s student in 1985, followed by six months in Kenya working on a Silsoe Aid for Appropriate Development (SAFAD) community water development project. He re-joined Cranfield in late 1987 as a Technical Officer running the Land Resource Planning Laboratory, where he developed his passion for aerial image interpretation and geographic information systems (GIS). In 1994, he became a Lecturer in Resource Survey in recognition of his developing teaching skills.

Tim co-developed new undergraduate and postgraduate courses, becoming Course Director for the Physical Geography BSc (1996-2002) and the Geographical Information Management MSc (2001-2012). During this period, he also worked overseas on many research and consultancy projects in a capacity development role, helping others to gain and apply spatial technical knowledge in their own roles.

He was made a Senior Lecturer in 2008 and became Environment Programme Director in 2012, responsible for the strategic management of 11 MSc courses. He was awarded the Best Lecturer prize for his School by the Cranfield Students' Association in 2012. In 2015, he became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and actively promoted and enabled the development of colleagues teaching and learning skills. Tim became Assistant Director of Education for the School of Water Energy and Environment in 2016 and Director of Education for the School in 2018. In this role, he chaired the course validation panels to set up the MK:U (a new university for Milton Keynes) Level 6 apprenticeships and led a number of review panels for external partners.

Paul Fairweather

Former Chair of Finance and Council member at Cranfield University

After having achieved an honours degree in Engineering from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Paul joined Price Waterhouse (subsequently PriceWaterhouseCoopers) in 1973 and went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in 1976. Paul became and then served as partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers from 1984 until his retirement in 2008. He has worked in London, The Hague, and Thames Valley advising multinational clients investing in the United Kingdom and Europe.

In 2013, Paul was elected to the Council of Cranfield and between 2013 and 2022 he was Chair of the Finance Committee of Council, which was a period of significant investment in facilities and equipment at the Cranfield campus.

Paul is a Business Fellow of The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, London and Treasurer of The Henley and District Agricultural Association. He resides, with his wife Angela, just outside of Henley-on-Thames in South Oxfordshire.

“I am greatly privileged to be awarded an honorary fellowship. I have enjoyed every minute of my association with Cranfield University, particularly my nine years as Chair of the Finance Committee of Council, interacting with the talented and commercially-minded people and helping them transform the Cranfield campus with huge investments in buildings, equipment and infrastructure.

I am sure the unique institution that is Cranfield University will continue to prosper.”

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