Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, DL was one of two Zoroastrian Parsis awarded honorary doctorates from the University of East Anglia recently.
Lord Bilimoria and Bahram Bekhradnia were invited alongside other notable figures from the fields of business, literature, science and charity to attend UEA’s week of graduation ceremonies, offering advice to graduating students and sharing their success stories. Each received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.
Lord Bilimoria is the founder of Cobra Beer, chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership Limited and of Molson Coors Cobra India. In 2006, he was the first Zoroastrian Parsi to sit in the House of Lords. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law, the tenth honorary doctorate he has received to date.
Honorary degrees are presented each year by the University to honour those who have made an impact in fields such as the arts, science, and civil society, but this is believed to be the first time that two Zoroastrians have been honoured at the same ceremony in the UK.
Lord Bilimoria, who unveiled The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia in October last year said, “I have been able to see first-hand why UEA is one of the UK’s top universities. It is such an honour and privilege to receive an Honorary Doctorate and I am truly humbled.
“In the United States, graduation ceremonies are often called commencement ceremonies, as graduating signifies the start of your career and the start of the rest of your life. Throughout your career, what will make the difference is your attitude. Our vision at Cobra is to aspire and achieve, against all odds, with integrity. It is a vision that has served me well and I hope that you are all able to emulate it too.”
Bahram Bekhradnia became the first director of the Higher Education Policy Institute in 2002 following the course of a career devoted to the higher education sector both nationally and internationally and also received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law. He said: “I was delighted to be asked by the University of East Anglia to accept an honorary degree, not least because UEA is a university I have long and greatly admired. It is unique among English universities being extremely successful at research, but at the same time attaching such importance to undergraduate education. It provides a model for other universities, and I am proud now to be associated with the University.
“If there is one thing your university experience should have taught you it is that hard work pays off – the tortoise doesn’t always win, but you’d be surprised how often she does.”
Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, Professor David Richardson, said: “We take great pride in honouring those who make valuable and notable contributions to society alongside our newest cohort of graduating students and it’s always a delight to hear the words of wisdom they can impart at our graduation ceremonies.”