Three leaders from the world of business were among those honoured by Cranfield University at its graduation celebrations today (29 June).

Tony Fernandes, CBE, co-founder of AirAsia and chairman of Queen’s Park Rangers; Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce and former Director General at the Ministry of Defence; and Martin Bromiley, OBE, founder and chair of the Clinical Human Factors Group charity were awarded honorary degrees. They joined more than 1,000 postgraduate students from more than 100 countries receiving their degrees from Cranfield University today, on the second of two days of celebrations this week.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to honour Tony, Paul and Martin today. As leaders in their fields they have achieved great things in aviation, aerospace and human factors, respectively. It is fantastic to welcome them at Cranfield today to join in with our celebrations.”

Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin bought the ailing AirAsia airline for a token 1 Malaysian ringgit (approximately 25 US cents). Together, they transformed the airline into Asia’s largest successful low-cost carrier by passengers within the space of two years.

Receiving his degree, Tony said: “It’s a great privilege to be awarded this honorary degree by Cranfield, an institution so deeply intertwined with British aviation history and which has such a storied past. With its strong focus on practical application, Cranfield has been a leading light in aeronautics and management since its founding more than seven decades ago, and I am deeply thankful for this recognition.”

Paul Stein is responsible for ensuring Rolls-Royce’s investment in technology is closely aligned with the company’s business strategy. Prior to joining Rolls-Royce, he was Director General, Science and Technology, at the Ministry of Defence, where he was responsible for the technical direction, prioritisation and outsourcing of the UK’s £500 million annual investment in defence science and technology.

Receiving his degree, Paul said: “Cranfield is a world-class university with unique capabilities and people. I have always greatly admired its quality of work in aerospace engineering and its pedigree of academics. For these reasons, I feel proud to be awarded this honorary degree and feel that it is a symbol of the history that connects Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University.”

Martin Bromiley founded the Clinical Human Factors Group after an independent review and inquest into the death of his wife, Elaine, during a hospital procedure found it was as a direct result of human factors and failings in non-technical skills, created by systematic failings in the healthcare system.

Receiving his degree, Martin said: “I am deeply humbled to receive this award. While it comes to me personally, it’s really in recognition of the professionalism, expertise and passion of many of those who’ve worked to improve investigation in aviation, many of whom are connected with Cranfield. It is on the shoulders of these pioneers that I’ve been able to help make a small difference to the safety of healthcare, and hopefully one day bring these lessons back to other safety-critical industries.”

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Other recipients of honorary degrees this year:
Christian Horner, team principal of Formula 1 team Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo
Sarah Willingham, entrepreneur, investor and consumer expert.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.