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Former Aston Villa Chairman awarded Honorary Doctorate

A leading figure in the Midlands’ business community, Steven Hollis has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Warwick.

Steven’s career saw him rise through the ranks during three decades at the accountancy firm KPMG, which included time on the company’s boards for the UK, Europe, EMA and as Chair of KPMG’s Midlands practice.

Since retiring from KPMG Steven has continued to work within the region in roles as diverse as the Chair of Aston Villa Football Club to Deputy Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. He today serves as Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands.

In recognition of his career and work in supporting the West Midlands, Steven joins those being honoured by the University of Warwick – how did he feel when he heard the news of his Honorary Doctorate?

“I’m still in a state of shock if I’m honest! It’s a huge honour and I’m very humbled. I’ve seen Warwick over the last twenty odd years and to think, one day, you’d think I’m worthy of a Doctorate is quite special.”

Listen to the full interview:

As a leading figure in the West Midlands, what is special about the region and why should those graduating alongside him look to developing their careers here rather than elsewhere?

“I’ve worked globally and came back the West Midlands ten years ago and there has been an absolute renaissance in the Greater Birmingham region and the West Midlands. If you look at the economic information, this part of the UK is now the fastest growing by any measure; more jobs are being created here, inward investment – all the things you need for a good economy.

“We now have the fastest growing and youngest population in Europe and there is a reason, this place is really popular. The retention rates of quality universities such as this has never been higher, the quality of life is better. The professional services community in this region is the happiest in the UK. There is so much to do in this region, it is an absolute crown jewel of the UK. Career wise, you can carve as successful as one here as London, New York or Shanghai.”

What role has the University played in this?

“The University has been an absolute engine for growth. If it wasn’t for Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya and WMG back in the late 2000s this country would not have a manufacturing base. That is wholly down to this place, the University of Warwick, and if you roll forward to now the university is such a key part of the Midland economy.”

And what advice would Steven pass on to those graduating today?

“I’ve come across a number of Warwick graduates and I think graduates from here are really special people. They’ve been immersed in an ecosystem which is unique. The only piece of advice I would give is to get stuck in, apply it, do it. You are amongst the best in the world, and boy dos the world need you at the moment!”

22 July 2019


Tom Frew, Senior Press and Media Relations Manager – University of Warwick:

M: +44(0)7785433155