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University of York to award Honorary Degrees

Posted on 17 January 2018

Sacha Romanovitch and Dame Vivian Hunt are among eight leading figures from the world of business, performing arts, politics and journalism to receive honorary degrees from the University of York this weekend (19 and 20 January 2018).

The University of York confers the honorary degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society.

The recipients of 2018 honorary degrees, which will be awarded as part of the University's winter graduation ceremonies, are:

  • Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Professor Dr Horst Koehler.

  • Pianist, poet and author Alfred Brendel.

  • Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Sacha Romanovitch, the first woman to lead a major City accountancy firm.

  • One of the three founding executives of Freeserve, the UK’s largest Internet Service Provider, Rob Wilmot.

  • Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, engineer, educator and government advisor. 

  • Dame Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner for McKinsey & Company’s United Kingdom and Ireland offices who has been identified as one of the 30 most influential people in the City of London by the Financial Times

  • Award-winning journalist Orla Guerin, currently based in Cairo for BBC News.


‌Sacha Romanovitch is the UK Chief Executive Officer of Grant Thornton and the first woman to lead a major City accountancy firm.

Appointed CEO in 2015, she is deeply interested in purpose-led business and the role of leadership in dynamic organisations to release potential and generate sustainable growth. She led on establishing the firm’s purpose to shape a vibrant economy where all can flourish.‌

After studying for an MA in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, she joined a small accountancy business in Windsor before relocating to London when the firm merged with Grant Thornton in 1994. She was made a Partner in 2001 and in 2008 joined the firm’s National Leadership Board with specific responsibility for People and Culture, overseeing the development of more than 4,500 employees.

Sacha is also on the Board of London and Partners and co-chairs the UK Government’s Inclusive Economy Partnership. Until recently Sacha chaired the Patron Group for Access Accountancy, the profession-wide initiative to increase diversity. In 2009, she was awarded the Women in the City Woman of Achievement Award and named Jaguar Woman of the Year.

Sacha represents a positive role model for students from all backgrounds and facing all kinds of structural disadvantage, showing that it is possible to be not only accomplished but genuinely ground-breaking in business, all the while acting in an ethically responsible way.

‌‌Currently managing Partner for McKinsey & Company’s United Kingdom and Ireland offices, Dame Vivian Hunt previously led the firm’s Pharmaceutical  & Medical Products practice in EMEA, and continues to advise leading British firms in the private, public and third sectors. She serves on the firm’s global Board of Directors and Values Committee.‌

In addition to her client responsibilities, Vivian is a leader within the firm on leadership and diversity. She was previously named ‘the most influential black woman in Britain’ by the Powerlist Foundation and The Financial Times identified her as one of the ‘European Women to Watch’ and more recently as the 30 most influential people in the City of London.

Vivian is on the board of several important business groups in the UK, including BritishAmerican Business, the CBI London Council, and the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board. She sits on the Advisory Council of the Tate Modern and the Southbank Centre, as well as Teach First’s Business Leaders Council. Vivian also chairs HRH Prince of Wales' Business in the Community's ‘Seeing is Believing’ programme.