Posted on Thursday 11th July 2013
Birmingham Business School students had the honour of sharing their degree ceremony with Business School Advisory Board member Anji Hunter, who graciously accepted her Honorary Doctorate from the University on the 3rd July.
Anji has supported the Business School tirelessly through her work on the Board since 2005, and has successfully championed the School at our accreditation reviews on three separate occasions. Anji is probably best known for being the Prime Minister’s Director of Government Relations from 1997 to 2001, for which one national newspaper described her as ‘the most influential non-elected person in Downing Street’. Nobody, it was said, got to the Prime Minister unless through Anji Hunter. Head of Communications roles followed for Anji in BP and Anglo America, before she went on to become the mastermind behind the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering – worth a million pounds to the winning team or individual, and devised to recognise and celebrate outstanding advances in engineering that have changed the world.
In accepting her degree, Anji addressed the congregation with words of advice and encouragement for all the new graduates in the room about to embark on their next challenge:
I want to say two things to you. First – work should be a joyous thing. A place where your ambition can soar, where you learn new things every day, make friends, future contacts, grow yourself. When my friend from my schooldays Tony Blair, a newly elected MP, asked me to be his research assistant in an airless underground office with this “other guy, a Scot called Brown”, I never thought 10 years later I would be helping the first Labour Prime Minister for 18 years to appoint his Cabinet. Be prepared to throw yourself in to an adventure, seize your moments. Seek out good work, love your work and work hard.
The second is a phrase my father taught me, many years ago, and it is this: “what goes around comes around”. It means be nice with people, behave honourably, be a team player. And be honest, loyal, ethical – proud of yourself every day. Success – either professional or personal – cannot be achieved without integrity. Look out for those who have it, and study them.”