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2012 Honorary Awards

Yoganathan Ratheesan - Owner and co-founder of Lebara Group and Kingston University alumnus
Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon D Litt)

Yoganathan RatheesanYoganathan Ratheesan is the owner and co-founder of Lebara Group, a highly successful telecommunications company that provides services using the mobile virtual network operator business model.

Ratheesan co-founded Lebara in 2001 at the age of 25, with the clear aim of transforming the international calling market by providing ethnic and migrant communities with high-quality, low-cost solutions for keeping in touch with family and friends. More than 10 years on, Lebara is one of the world’s fastest-growing mobile companies, with some four-million active customers, 1,500 employees and operations in eight countries. During this time Lebara has received a number of accolades, including being ranked as the fourth fastest-growing private company in Great Britain in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 listing in 2006, and Winner of Most Innovative Service at the Mobile News Awards in 2009.

In August 2012, Ratheesan took on the position of Chairman for Lebara Group after holding the position of CEO since he co-founded the company. He will focus on the strategic development of the organisation as it builds towards its 2020 vision of being the brand of choice for one-billion people around the world.

Alongside his two friends and co-founders, his next big ambition is to expand their charitable venture, the Lebara Foundation, which is already building a community with homes, a school and a clinic for local and displaced children in Chennai, southern India. To fund it, they plan to donate half their wealth to the foundation.

Ratheesan, who has recently been named Ernst & Young ‘London & South’ Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, holds a BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from Kingston University. 

Kingston University is pleased to award Yoganathan Ratheesan the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa in recognition of his outstanding contribution to business and entrepreneurship.

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Nicholas Hewer – Television Personality
Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon D Litt)

Nick HewerA former public relations consultant, Nick Hewer is probably best known for his role as Lord Alan Sugar’s advisor on the BBC television show The Apprentice and, since January 2012, as the host of Channel 4’s Countdown.

Educated in Ireland, Nick Hewer moved to London at the age of 20 to join public relations consultancy Michael Joyce Consultants as a trainee. Within six years he had joined the board and eventually bought out the owner, becoming the sole shareholder.

In the early 1980s, Hewer’s PR firm was selected to represent Amstrad, and he soon became responsible for their press and public relations worldwide, as well as the media handling of Lord Alan Sugar’s personal, business, charitable and legal activities. For over 20 years, Nick played an integral part in Amstrad’s management structure.

After selling his business in 1998, Nick took early retirement and moved to his house in southwest France. However, having become firm friends with Lord Sugar, he was recalled to help in Sugar’s negotiations with the producers of The Apprentice. In return, Sugar convinced Nick to take an onscreen role in the programme and promised to negotiate his fees. Initially Hewer was reluctant, but Sugar was very persuasive.

Nick firmly believes that The Apprentice has done much to create an interest and understanding of business among the young, and argues strongly that it has helped to instil an entrepreneurial spirit in Britain’s youth.

Nick is involved in charity work as a Patron of Hope and Homes for Children, a British charity operating in the Balkans, Sudan, South Africa, Rwanda and Sierra Leone that seeks to ensure that children are raised in a loving family environment. As part of a programme for Channel 4, he travelled to Freetown, Sierra Leone, towing an industrial wood saw and generator for an unsuspecting young man there who the charity has trained to be a carpenter. Having spotted an entrepreneurial streak in the young man during his visit, Nick now intends to set him up in business.

Kingston University is pleased to award Nicholas Hewer the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa in recognition of his outstanding contribution and services to business and entrepreneurship.

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Tony Ball – Chairman of Kabel Deutschland, former CEO of BSkyB and Kingston MBA alumnus
Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon D Litt)

Tony BallThe former Chief Executive of BskyB was already a Kingston Business School alumnus when he received his honorary degree at a ceremony on 18th January 2012. Mr Ball graduated in 1995 with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA.) He left school at 16 and became an outside broadcast engineer at Thames Television before joining British Satellite Broadcasting which was later taken over by Sky. He was appointed as Chief Executive of BskyB in 1999, a position he held until 2003. Previously he had been BskyB Sports Head of Productions and Operations and General Manager, Broadcasting and had then worked in the USA where he was Chief Executive of FOX-LIBERTY Networks.

Mr Hall is now Chairman of Germany’s largest cable television network, Kabel Deutschland. He also works for BT Group plc and as a board member for the Olympic Delivery Authority for the 2012 Olympic Games

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