Graduation ceremony

Sir Richard Lambert

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honourable Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Sir Richard Lambert for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.  

Sir Richard Lambert, until recently the Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, had a long and distinguished career as a financial journalist on the Financial Times. Described in a BBC profile as "a quiet but insightful intellectual", he has contributed throughout his career to the working of the country's financial institutions, most notably as a member of the Bank of England's rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee. 

And it's gratifying to see that Sir Richard, the author of an influential government report on the relationship between universities and business, has enthusiastically endorsed our World of Work Programme whereby our students have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to stand out from the crowd and successfully engage in the world of work.   

Richard Peter Lambert was born in North Buckinghamshire and brought up in Manchester, first attending King's School, Macclesfield before, at the age of 13, going to Fettes College in Edinburgh. He played rugby and excelled academically, gaining a place at Balliol College Oxford, where he studied history.   

After graduation, he joined the Financial Times as a journalist, editing the agenda-setting Lex column in the 1970s, and becoming financial editor in 1979. He became the bureau chief in New York in 1982 before returning to the UK a year later as deputy editor. In 1991, he became editor of the Financial Times, and during his 10 years in the role, he doubled the circulation, and internationalised the paper: he launched the US version to compete with the Wall Street Journal, created Frankfurt, Tokyo, and Paris editions and also moved the paper online.   

In 2002 Richard spent a semester at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The same year he chaired a government report on BBC News 24 and the following year was asked by the Government to review the relationship between higher education and business. It was at that time that our University came to his attention through the examples of good practice he found at LJMU in governance, strategic planning, decision-making, and continuing professional development, and which were quoted in the influential Lambert Review. 

Since then he has publicly supported our World of Work initiative and such is his enthusiasm for what we are doing, he is a member of our WoW National Advisory Board along with a range of influential leaders from the business community.   

From 2003-2006, Richard was one of the nine members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee which sets the interest rate for sterling. And then in 2006, he succeeded Sir Digby Jones, now Lord Digby Jones, as director-general of the CBI, which represents the interests of some 240,000 businesses across the UK. 

In this role, his economic literacy and his genial, calm and thoughtful manner served him well and he was widely praised for his strong leadership of the organisation during the financial crisis. He profiled issues such as globalisation, climate change, and social inclusion which are outside the usual capitalist remit. When necessary, he did not hesitate to take ministers to task over uncompetitive corporate taxation and regulation.

But he also ruffled a few feathers by questioning the ethics of big bonuses and excessive profits, arguing that "the greed is good", culture is likely to lead to increased regulation of business activities. And before he stepped down last year, maintaining that it was right time in the political and economic cycle to hand over to a new leader, he gave the CBI's backing to the controversial proposal of swift deficit reduction.   

Post-CBI, he has agreed to act as a UK Business Ambassador, alongside other business leaders. He is also a member of the UK-India Roundtable, a Trustee of the British Museum and in 2008, became chancellor of the University of Warwick.

His career has brought him many accolades: he has honorary awards from the University of York, City University, the University of Warwick, Brighton University, Cranfield, and the University of Exeter. 

And he was knighted in the 2011 New Year Honours for service to business.   

Sir Richard Lambert is a man of great experience of finance and of business, a man of authority and wisdom, and a man who truly values the roles that universities play in the 21st century. He does not share the view that too many students are going to university, recognising that we need many more skilled and adaptable graduates for us to compete in the global economy. He values the contributions made by universities across the UK, not least by Liverpool John Moores University.

Commenting on our World of Work initiative he states: "I couldn't be more enthusiastic about what LJMU is doing, it has always been innovative and this is a great example of what it is capable of delivering. The World of Work programme is just what a modern university ought to be doing." 

We appreciate this strong endorsement from Sir Richard for one of our key strategic initiatives, and we are delighted to honour him today for his sustained contribution to business and for his powerful advocacy of ever greater links between business and our universities.   

Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Sir Richard Lambert, this most distinguished person, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.