Professor Sir Jim McDonald adresses attendees

Inside Strathclyde Celebrating outstanding alumni achievement at the inaugural STELAR Awards

Five of the University’s most notable alumni were recognised last week (31 May) at the inaugural Strathclyde Executive Leadership (STELAR) Awards. The Technology and Innovation’s Executive suite was a fitting venue for this celebration of significant achievements of Strathclyders in senior executive roles.

Established by the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Jim McDonald, the awards acknowledge the many Strathclyde alumni who go onto succeed in leadership roles in business, industry and in the public sector.

The alumni awardees at this inaugural ceremony come from across Strathclyde’s community as graduates of its Business School, Engineering faculty and the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

The ceremony also saw alumna Dr Susan Aktemel, Founding Director of Homes for Good (Scotland), receive the 2019 Strathclyde Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs Award (SADE). 

Presenting the awards, Sir Jim said, “Today we take the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of our alumni; to recognise and celebrate them with the STELAR medal and SADE awards.

“As a leading international technological university, it’s important for us to acknowledge the impact and contribution our alumni make in business, the wider community and society in general. I am immensely proud that a Strathclyde education has been a platform for such success, providing our current students with inspirational role models and demonstrating ‘what excellence looks like’.

“The launch of the STELAR Awards is also timely with the recent Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings (April 2019) – which aims to capture universities' impact on society and based on the UN’s sustainable development goals – ranking Strathclyde 1st in Scotland for Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (and 6th in the UK).
“Congratulations to all the awardees today – six inspirational individuals whose success is testament to our founder’s vision of a ‘place of useful learning’.”

Profiles of STELAR and SADE Awardees 

Debbie Crosbie, CEO TSB, BA, Industrial Relations (1991)

Debbie Crosbie , Professor Eleanor Shaw and Professor Sir Jim McDonaldDebbie joined TSB Bank as CEO in May 2019. Prior to this she served as Clydesdale Bank’s Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Director having joined the PLC’s Board in 2014. The appointment to the COO role in 2015 followed a period when Debbie had responsibility for all of the Bank’s Operations and IT.

Debbie originally joined Clydesdale Bank in 1997 following a spell with the Prudential Assurance Company. She held a number of strategic and planning roles, mainly in the IT and Development field before being appointed as Chief Information Officer in 2008. During this period Debbie was instrumental in unifying the different infrastructure and operating systems of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. In 2011 her role was expanded to included responsibility for payments, collections and recoveries and all back office processing for the Bank.

Debbie was invited to provide evidence to the UK Parliament’s inquiry into Women in the Workplace and in 2015 became the first female executive to sign Scottish banknotes. She sits on the Glasgow Economic Leadership Board and has held the role of Vice Chair of Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Scotland Council, since September 2017. 

Recognised as Alumna of the Year in 2016, Debbie has also been a Member of the SBS UK Advisory Board since June 2017.

Frank Mitchell, CEO ScottishPower Energy Networks, BEng (Hons), Electronic and Electrical Engineering (1993)

Professor Campbell Booth, Frank Mitchell and Professor Sir Jim McDonaldAs CEO of ScottishPower’s Energy Networks Frank leads a business with responsibility for getting the electricity from power generators to all 3.5 million customers in Central and South Scotland, Merseyside and North Wales.

He is a member of the Glasgow Economic Leadership board and Chair of the Skills Industry Leadership Group of the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board. Currently he chairs both the Energy Skills Action Group for Scotland and Skills Development Scotland.

The Scottish Power Advanced Research centre was founded in 2007, building on a long-standing relationship between the company and the University and, in 2013, a partnership was established with Scottish Power’s parent company – Iberdrola - to offer the Iberdrola MBA in the Global Energy Industry.

 Scottish Power is a strategic partner of the University’s Technology and Innovation Centre and a partner in the Power Networks Demonstration Centre. They are also a partner in the Breaking Barriers programme which works to enable young people with learning disabilities to attend university, achieve an accredited qualification and gain work experience.

 Scottish Power is a major donor to the University through the Scottish Power Scholarships. They have provided funding for the Chair in Smart Grid Technology as well as supporting research fellowship programmes. In 2017 they set up the Scottish Power Entrepreneurial Challenge with the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Ann Budge, owner Hearts FC, BA (Hons), Psychology (1970)

Professor Ian Rivers, Ann Budge and Professor Sir Jim McDonaldInducted as a Strathclyde Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs Award (SADE) member in 2013, Ann became the first woman appointed to a senior position in Scottish & Newcastle after starting off as an IT trainee 12 years prior. She co-founded IT services company Newell & Budge in 1985, which specialised in making bespoke software. After 20 years of annual growth, Ms Budge sold the company to Sopra Group in 2005.

She was awarded ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the Entrepreneurial Exchange in 2005 and was then inducted into the Entrepreneurial Exchange Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2014 she was disclosed as the sole director of BIDCO 1874, the group that bought Scottish football club Heart of Midlothian out of administration. She has since both led the club back into the Premier League, and into a profit, winning the SPFL CEO of the Year in 2016.

Ann has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh (1991), is listed as a role model by the Women's Engineering Society and has been a recipient of the Woman of Outstanding Achievement Award from the UK Resource Centre. She was named ‘Person of the Year’ by Edinburgh Evening News in 2014. She has been awarded honorary degrees from Robert Gordon’s, Heriot Watt and Edinburgh Napier Universities.

John Heasley, CFO Weir Group, BA, Business (1994)

Prof Donald MacKenzie, John Heasley and Professor Sir Jim McDonaldJohn was appointed Chief Financial Officer of Weir Group in 2016. He first joined the Group as Group Financial Controller in 2008 and was Interim Group Finance Director in 2009-2010.  He has been a member of Weir Group’s Executive since 2014.

Prior to joining Weir Group, he had roles at Scottish Power, PwC and Andersen. John is a Chartered Accountant and member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. He is also a non-executive director and Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

The Weir Group is a long-standing partners of the University and in 2011 formed the Weir Advanced Research Centre (WARC), now based in the Technology and Innovation Centre.

The Group has also recently renewed its support of the Young WEIR-WISE Programme – a non-residential Women in Science and Engineering programme that will address inequality in that field for a further two years.

Robin Watson, CEO Wood Group, MBA, 1995

Dr Phil Considine, Robin Watson and Professor Sir Jim McDonaldRobin is Chief Executive of Wood Group Plc and is an executive member of its Board of Directors. He was appointed to his current role in 2016, having been Chief Operating Officer and an executive member of the Wood Group board since 2013 and CEO of Wood Group’s PSN division since 2012.

He has more than 30 years’ engineering and industry experience, with the past 15 years spent in a variety of executive positions and being actively engaged with various industry and governmental representative bodies.

He is also a Visiting Professor at the Robert Gordon University, a chartered mechanical engineer and a Fellow of both the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Energy Institute.

Robin was inducted into the Press and Journal Energy Voice Gold Awards ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2018. In 2014 he won the Institute of Director's (IoD) 'Global Director of the Year' award and the IoD Scotland's overall 'Director of the Year' award.

Strathclyde Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs Award (SADE)  

Dr Susan Aktemel, BA, German and Spanish (1990)

Olga Kozlova, Susan Aktemel and Professor Sir Jim McDonald
The Founding Director of Homes for Good (Scotland), Susan is the Strathclyde Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs inductee for 2019/20. She is the seventeenth recipient of the award since it was founded in 2011.

Susan founded Impact Arts in 1994, pioneering the idea of social enterprise. The organisation helped people and communities across Scotland tackle issues such as employability and regeneration through creativity and arts.  She is now focused on socially-focused property development and management through Homes for Good Ltd, which purchases and renovates empty and dilapidated properties for letting, and specialises in serving people on low incomes.

Susan is an Enterprise Partner, Business Fellow and Strathclyde Business School Founding Entrepreneur. She also guest lectures at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship.