Students Staff

18 July 2013

Sir Keith Mills receives Honorary Degree from the University of Essex

Sir Keith Mills

Sir Keith Mills with his Honorary Degree

Sir Keith Mills paid tribute to his mum from Brentwood when he came to the University of Essex to receive an Honorary Degree.

Sir Keith, who was born and went to school in Brentwood, was recognised for his outstanding entrepreneurial flair and contribution to the success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

In 2003 he was appointed International President and CEO of London 2012, the company that was created to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Having established the London 2012 organisation which planned and organised the Games (LOCOG), Sir Keith remained as Deputy Chairman alongside Lord Coe to oversee operations.

Sir Keith told Essex Business School students at the graduation ceremony held at the University’s Colchester Campus on Wednesday: “My mum was my inspiration – despite starting work at the age of 15 with no qualification she told me I could do anything I wanted if I set my mind to it.

“I would suggest you take a little advice from my mum and aim high – be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to be. I took her advice and didn’t do too badly.”

Sir Keith told graduates the UK might be continuing to face economic difficulties in the future, but there would still be opportunities for people with “drive, imagination and a positive attitude”.

He said: “Be ambitious and reach for the stars, you will be surprised by what you can achieve.”

Orator Dr Ourania Dimitraki from Essex Business School highlighted Sir Keith’s many achievements including his contribution to the success of London 2012.

He said: “Sir Keith Mills is an inspiration to us all: he did not only inspire a generation to play sports and young people around the world to choose sport, but also motivates us all to keep fighting even under stiff competition.”

Sir Keith Mills with Essex Business School graduates

Sir Keith Mills with Essex Business School graduates and award winners

Sir Keith has enjoyed a highly successful business career and founded Air Miles International Group to develop the Air Miles programme in 1988. He is also a non-executive director of Tottenham Hotspur Plc.

In 2005 Sir Keith received a number of awards including Master Entrepreneur of the Year, Chief Executive of the Year and the Sports Industry Businessman of the Year. Sir Keith is also founder of Sported – a leading charity supporting sport for development.

In the 2013 New Year Honours he was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire for delivering a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games.


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