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City University London alumni and hon grads named in the Debrett’s 500 2016
Campus Life Series: Graduate Success

The most influential people in Britain

Honorary graduates and alumni named on the Debrett’s 500


British etiquette specialists, Debrett’s have named City alumni and honorary graduates in their list of 500 most influential people in Britain. Published annually, the Debrett’s 500 acknowledges people of influence and achievement in British society. Compiled by a panel of experts in each field, the list includes 23 categories ranging from art to finance.

The following alumni and honorary graduates have been named in the list.


Dame Wendy Hall (Computer Science 1986)

Dame Hall is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and the first female professor of engineering at the University. She was a founding director of the Web Science Research Initiative along with Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Sir Richard Olver (Civil Engineering 1970) 

The former chairman at BAE systems is considered to be one of the UK’s leading experts on oil and gas exploration. Sir Olver currently advises the government as part of the prime minister’s Business Advisory group, is a UK Business ambassador and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Philanthropists and activists

Sir Harvey McGrath (Honorary Doctor of Science, 2007) 

One of the UK’s most active philanthropists, Sir McGrath is the current chairman of Big Society Capital, a social investment institution. He received a knighthood in the 2016 New Year Honours for his services to economic growth and public life.


Sir Nicholas Serota (Honorary Doctor of Letters, 1990)

As the Director of Tate Galleries since 1988, Sir Serota is one of the most influential people in the art world. During his tenure at Tate, Sir Serota has overseen the openings of a number of new galleries including Tate St Ives in 1993 and Tate Modern in 2000.

Science and Medicine

Sir Paul Nurse (Honorary Doctor of Science, 2014)

Cell Biologist and Geneticist Sir Paul Nurse is currently the director of The Francis Crick Institute, having also served as the CEO of Cancer Research UK and the Imperial Cancer Fund. He won the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his ground-breaking research into the factors that control the division and shape of cells.


James Harding (Newspaper Journalism, 1994) 

British journalist, James Harding became the head of BBC News in 2013. He was the youngest ever editor of The Times, when he was appointed at the age of 34 and has also worked as the Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times.

Fraser Nelson (PG Dip Newspaper Journalism 1996)

Right-wing political journalist Fraser Nelson is currently the Editor of The Spectator. In 2013, he was awarded Editors’ Editor of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors. He also writes a column for the Daily Telegraph.

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