Bolton entrepreneur Imran Hakim told graduating students dreaming was the key to his success, as he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton today (Friday 27 November 2009).
He joined around 500 graduating students, their families and friends who gathered at the Victoria Hall in Bolton to have their degrees and diplomas conferred upon them by University Vice-Chancellor, Dr George Holmes.
Dr Holmes told the degree congregation University graduates would always be part of the University of Bolton family, a 'global family' with a growing global reach and growing student numbers.
'Ceremonies like these, today, will soon be conducted for graduating students in Hong Kong,' he said. 'A few weeks ago our students in Pan Tang and Kuala Lumpur attended similar ceremonies and in February the first cohort from our Ras al Khaimah campus will graduate.'
Imran Hakim received his award for his outstanding contribution to business and innovation. Also receiving honorary awards were Professor Dr Berthold Bitzer and Sir Arnold Wolfendale.
Imran has a close association with the University of Bolton. He is the University's Fellow of Entrepreneurship. Possibly best known as a winner of BBC TV programme Dragons' Den, Imran Hakim's winning iTeddy product was part-developed with the University. Having launched his business career at the age of 15, Imran graduated from UMIST in 2001 with a BSc in Optometry and Vision Science. He now successfully runs a group of independent practices.
On having the award conferred on him, Imran said he was especially honoured and proud to receive his award, as a Bolton man, born and bred.
He said his first job had been working in a burger bar where he lasted three days before being asked to leave after 'constantly asking awkward questions'. The owners' parting words to him were 'if you think you know anything about business you are dreaming'.
Said Imran: 'It is dreaming that has got me here today, from flipping burgers to having my modest business portfolio.
'My message to graduating students here today is to dream; dream often and dream big.
'It is only recently that glamour and celebrity has become associated with entrepreneurship. Previously it was regarded as being a bit like Dell-boy from Only Fools and Horses. It is only in the recent past people have realised that enterprise and innovation is where a large proportion of employment and wealth in this country come from.
'Anyone can participate in being an entrepreneur. It isn't really about making money, although that can be a pleasant by-product of it, it is about making an impact and doing something with energy, passion until you are very, very good at it.'
Professor Dr Berthold Bitzer received his award for his outstanding contribution to the University.
Prof Bitzer has been at the University of South Westphalia in Soest since 1987 having been Dean of Faculty and holding a number of senior management positions within the consortium of Universities forming the University of South Westphalia. Prior to joining the University he held positions at the University of Paderborn, the Technical University, Darmstadt and AEG. His background is in power systems and control engineering. In 1994 he was responsible for leading the development of masters education at his university and working in conjunction with Prof Danny Morton of the University of Bolton he launched the first masters programme in Electronic systems in 1995. This programme was one of the first masters degrees to be delivered in Germany and his work paved the way for the development of masters programmes throughout the German education system.
He told graduating students that he considered his honorary doctorate an achievement for his colleagues and students in Soest, as well as for himself, and he looked forward to developing further alliances with the University of Bolton.
Sir Arnold Wolfendale received his award for his outstanding contribution to science.
Sir Arnold Wolfendale is a British astronomer who served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995. He graduated with a BSc in physics from the University of Manchester in 1948, followed by a PhD in 1953 and a DSc in 1970. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1973 and a Fellow if the Royal Society in 1977.
He retired from teaching in 1992 and was knighted in 1995. In 1996 he became Professor of Experimental Physics with the Royal Institution of Great Britain.During his career he held academic posts at the universities of Manchester, Durham, Ceylon and Hong Kong, and was head of department at Durham where he remains an emeritus professor.
Although having lived in Durham for many years, Sir Arnold said he well remembered Bolton, particularly Farnworth where he lived as a small child, although he soon moved with his parents to Flixton and now lived in Durham. However, he said he felt sure his father would be proud to see him honoured by the University of Bolton and that his award 'makes me one of you, not one of them'.
Pictured from top: Imran Hakim, Professor Dr Berthold Bitzer and Sir Arnold Wolfendale.