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Bob Wigley
Bob Wigley
After the ceremony
After the ceremony
Mr Wigley with orator Professor Michael Lewis
Mr Wigley with orator Professor Michael Lewis

Internal News - 26 June 2008

Honorary graduate - Bob Wigley

Oration by Professor Michael Lewis:

Bob Wigley began his business career whilst studying at the University of Bath.

A chance meeting with a Bank Manager on a golf course – he was not a club member and was playing some ‘free’ holes – led to a loan, a house purchase and the creation of a rental opportunity.

Since graduating in 1983, he has had an extraordinary career in the notoriously volatile investment banking sector. After building a world-class reputation in Mergers, Acquisitions and Flotations – leading, for example, the teams that worked on Asda’s £7bn sale to WalMart, the £13bn merger of Cable & Wireless Communications with NTL, Philip Green’s £1bn acquisition of Arcadia, the £1.25bn flotation of Burberry and Logica’s £1bn merger with CMG - Bob has achieved equally impressive executive success within Merrill Lynch.

He became Co-Head of Corporate Broking in 2000, Co-Head of UK Investment Banking in 2001, Global Co-Head of Telecom & Media Investment Banking in 2002 and Chairman of EMEA Corporate Banking in 2003. In 2004, Bob was appointed the Chairman for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This role, in which he has served with distinction since 2004, has given him executive responsibility for a multi-billion dollar business employing more than 7,000 people in 13 countries.

In addition to his obvious commitment to and success within his chosen profession, Bob has taken on a large number of public service roles including service as a Non-Executive Director of Royal Mail Group plc and then Chairman of the Royal Mail Audit Committee during its initial restructuring. Recognition of his expertise in the capital markets led to membership of the Court of the Bank of England and the Bank of England’s Risk Policy Committee, to contribute in particular to its activities relating to financial stability. His pre-eminence in the industry also led to appointments to the Takeover Panel board, the Chairman’s Committee of the London Investment Banking Association and the Financial Services Authority’s Senior Practitioner Committee.

Regularly voted by the trade press as one of the most influential people in European Capital Markets, Bob was made a member of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s ‘Wise Men’ Group of City Stakeholders in 2006. He was also instrumental in promoting the establishment of the International Centre for Financial Regulatory Expertise, being an active member of the working group established under the chairmanship of Lord Currie of Marylebone.

Whilst a 19 year-old Bath student, he worked with children from Keynsham School who went on to win a national Young Enterprise competition. After a speculative letter from Bob, the children were invited to present their work to the then Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, at 10 Downing Street. Following this undoubtedly memorable experience, Bob has continued to be very active in seeking to encourage and develop the links between business and education; becoming Deputy Chairman of Business in the Community in 2005 and chairing its Education Leadership Team since then.

Through this work Bob has helped to forge invaluable links between businesses and many, many schools. He also promoted the establishment of the Merrill Lynch Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Program, through which three Tower Hamlets Schools have been adopted and ‘catch-up’ support offered in Mathematics and English, teachers and students have been mentored and Enterprise Education provided. OFSTED have recognised the value of these links and Bob has led ‘Seeing is Believing’ visits to the schools to encourage other Business in the Community members to similar levels of engagement. Recognising this special knowledge of business-education links, the Prime Minister appointed Bob to the National Council for Education Excellence in 2007.

Bob is a strong advocate of ethical business and sits on the Court of the Guild of International Bankers, a body which promotes ethical conduct in banking. He is also the Chair of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation. Bob’s personal credo includes a commitment to promoting diversity, reflected in his chairing of the Merrill Lynch Diversity and Inclusion Council. Bob regularly attends and promotes numerous diversity initiatives around gender, race and sexuality. This active participation extends to membership of the boards of Opportunity Now and the President’s Group of the Employers’ Forum on disability. He was recently appointed the First Ambassador for the charity, Whizz-Kidz, which buys motorised wheelchairs for disabled children, having served for many years as a trustee and fund-raiser.

In summary, Bob Wigley has achieved amazing professional success in an extremely competitive world, but crucially has managed to combine this with exceptional contributions to public service and charity. Bob is a graduate of whom the University can be justly proud.

Chancellor, I present to you Mr Bob Wigley who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa.