Sir Keith Mills, London 2012 orchestrator, to receive honorary degree

Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), will receive an honorary degree from the University of Bath on Wednesday 14 December, at Bath’s Assembly Rooms. 

Sir Keith was CEO and International President of London 2012 and central to the success of bringing the Olympic Games to London.

He has enjoyed a highly successful career as an entrepreneur and pioneer of the loyalty industry, including founding the Air Miles scheme which he launched in partnership with British Airways in 1988 and rolled out around the world. He then created the Nectar Card which he sold in 2007 for £375m.

Sir Keith left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications. He started his working life as a Copy Assistant with The Economist and rapidly moved into marketing and advertising with The Financial Times and then The Investors’ Chronicle. At the age of just 31 he led a management buy-out of the London office of an American advertising company.

Speaking about his honorary degree, Sir Keith said: “As someone with little formal education it is a great honour to receive a degree from such a prestigious university as Bath.”

At the ceremony Sir Keith will address the graduates and offer them advice as they embark on their careers. He said: “My message to graduates will be to always follow your dreams, to be tenacious and remember nobody succeeds without a lot of hard work.

“Even in rough economic times the more effort you put into life the more you will get out.”

Speaking about the Olympics and the contribution of universities to their success, he said: “I hope the Olympics next year will give the whole country the boost it needs, lifting the spirit of the nation and inspiring the next generation.

“Universities have been critical to the success of London 2012.  Most of them have produced our Olympic stars and many will host visiting National Olympic teams in pre-Games training camps next year.”

Bath’s sports facilities are home to many aspiring Olympic athletes, including 400m hurdles World Champion, Dai Greene. The University is hosting Paralympics GB’s preparation camps in the lead-up to 2012 and Malaysian Olympic athletes will train at Bath across a range of sports. Further nations are also expected to choose Bath as their training base ahead of the Games.

In his oration, Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University, will speak about Sir Keith’s role in bringing the Olympics to London and his ready acknowledgement of the contribution of others, saying: “Sir Keith is described as a strong strategic thinker who is able to connect dots and thereby create new insights. Like all successful people, he is a determined and driven individual, good at focusing on important issues and relentless in his pursuit of success.

“Perhaps one of his greatest testaments, in an era in which it is trendy to view aggressive and ruthless behaviour as the acceptable, if not required, approach of successful business leaders, it is the comment from a close colleague that ‘no-one has a bad word about him’ and that ‘he makes those around him feel special’.”

Sir Keith is a non-Executive Director of Tottenham Hotspur FC and owns two yacht racing teams. In 1999 he was part of the crew that won the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Following the successful Olympic bid, he was knighted in 2006 in recognition of his services to sport.

Sir Keith will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Wednesday 14 December at 3pm. He is one of five honorary graduates who will receive degrees at the ceremonies including award-winning novelist Philip Pullman CBE, and human rights lawyer and campaigner Clive Stafford Smith OBE.

Over 1,000 students will graduate from the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Division for Lifelong Learning, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and School of Management.

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