Image of the audience attending a Graduation ceremony

Ian Smith

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Ian Smith for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.  

Ian Smith has spent his entire career in customer-focused digital technologies, notably with BT and Oracle Corporation UK, and has a long-term commitment to skills development.   

He is currently a consultant in executive-level change management with Anderson Bick, a consultancy company he founded when he retired as Regional Senior Vice President for Oracle UK in 2008.   

With responsibility for the UK, Ireland, South Africa & Israel, Ian was the longest-serving MD in Oracle UK's history, leading the organisation through the dotcom boom and bust and remorseless change in the IT market, both in the UK and globally. 

Ian Anderson Smith was born in Leith near Edinburgh into a working class family and moved in his childhood to Portsmouth. After leaving school at 16, he found work as an apprentice electrical fitter at Portsmouth Dockyard where he quickly learned the value of focusing on the customer's needs. 

Spurred on by his mother Mary who was notably ambitious for her children, Ian studied through day-release and night school at the Dockyard College, gaining first an ONC and then in 1970, an HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Soon afterwards he secured a job at ICL as a computer service engineer and in 1974 moved to the Digital Equipment Corporation where he worked for 20 years both here and in the USA, latterly as Director of Business Partners.  

In the mid-1990s, he was appointed to BT as Director of Customer Services before becoming Managing Director of UK Customer Service. In this role, he once found himself telling Larry Ellison, the charismatic billionaire boss of the business software corporation Oracle how his business needed to improve if he wanted to remain a major supplier to BT. 

Ian recalls, "After a while, I got a call from the then president of Oracle Europe saying: 'Larry has been thinking about what you were saying. He says if you think you're so smart then why don't you come to Oracle and put it right?"  

Ian duly became Oracle's senior vice- president and managing director for the UK and Ireland in 1999, later adding South Africa to his portfolio. With responsibility for Oracle's largest market outside the US, his reputation was enhanced by the way he led the organisation with great political skill through what was an exceptionally volatile period in the technology sector. Ian Smith's commitment to skills development and to corporate social responsibility is evident from the numerous leadership roles he has assumed outside his main employment.   

He has served on the Executive of the Information Age Partnership the National Employment Panel, the Board of Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe, and the Board of e-Skills UK the CBI's President's Committee and he recently chaired the Leadership & Management Panel on behalf of the UK Government. 

He currently:  chairs the South East Leadership Team on behalf of BiTC, and is a member of the BiTC Board. He chairs the Leadership for Global Competitiveness Advisory Group for the South-East England Development Agency, is President of the Institute of Customer Service.

In February of this year, he was appointed as chairman of Young Enterprise UK Ian is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a Fellow of the City & Guilds Institute and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute  Ian enjoys watching sport in what little spare time he has.   

His Scottish heritage and Hampshire upbringing explain his sporting allegiances: he is a lifelong supporter of the Scottish Rugby Team and an avid fan and season-ticket holder at Fratton Park. 

Ian Smith from relatively humble beginnings has achieved great success as an inspirational leader in the highly competitive global technology business.  

Despite the high work demands, he has energetically championed corporate social responsibility, young enterprise, and best practice in leadership and management, not least the importance of customer focus.   

We at Liverpool John Moores University have benefited from Ian's interest in skills and enterprise development - he is an enthusiastic member of our WoW Advisory Panel, helping us to ensure that our students are ready for employment or ready to set up their own businesses. 

His outstanding career achievements and public service to date demand acknowledgement and we are delighted to honour him today.  

Thus I have pleasure in presenting Ian Anderson Smith, this most distinguished person, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.