Degree Speeches

 Summer 2000


Dr Keith Henry Taylor

Public Orator, Professor Michael Streat, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Congregation held on the afternoon of Thursday 13 July 2000

Vice-Chancellor, Lord Lieutenant, Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today we honour a truly outstanding chemical engineer and captain of industry. Keith Taylor was born in Brighton, Sussex and received his schooling at King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon. He then went directly to the University of Birmingham where he obtained a first class honours degree and a PhD in chemical engineering. Directly after graduation from Birmingam in 1964, Keith joined Esso at Fawley Refinery in Hampshire.

Keith spent his first 15 years with Esso Petroleum and Esso Europe in a variety of senior managerial positions in refining, research, marine transportation, logistics and corporate planning. In 1980, he joined the Exxon Company in New Orleans and in 1981 he was made Production Division Operations Manager responsible for all production and drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

He returned to London in 1982 as Operations Manager and then Production Manager for Esso Exploration and Production UK Limited. In 1984, he was appointed Executive Assistant to the Chairman of Exxon Corporation in New York before returning to London in 1985 to become Managing Director of Esso Exploration and Production. He was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of Esso UK Limited in 1993 and has just retired from this post after more than 35 years with the company - a truly remarkable and successful career that should inspire our chemical engineering graduates today.

Dr Keith Taylor has received many honours, distinctions and Professional attributions during hs career. He was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June and we heartily congratulate him. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Fellow of the Institute of Petroleum, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Companion of the Institute of Management, Member of the Institute of Directors and he holds an Honorary DEng degree fron the University of Birmingham.

Our Honorary Graduand has held and continues to hold many important positions in a wide-ranging sphere of professional activity. The list is too long to mention in full but I would like to draw out the diversity of his professional life. He was President of the UK Offshore Operations Associations in 1988/89, Vice-President of the Institute of Petroleum during 1991/94, President of the Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1995/97. He continues as a Governor of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, Board Member of Lloyd's Register of Shipping, Council Member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Member of the Advisory Council of the Prince's Youth Business Trust and a Board Member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Despite a busy and often hectic professional career, Keith has found time to enjoy his private life. His house is situated in about 8 acres of land in the beautiful surroundings of the New Forest . He can practice his golf swing on a 2-hole golf course in the back garden and when he tires of this he can enjoy a stroll in his own little wood that extends for several acres on his ground. Keith and his wife Addie love travelling and he tells me that he has visited every continent from the Americas to Australasia. He has most recently returned from a trip to New Zealand.

His first love of life is his family but a close second is high performance sports cars. When I visited him at home just three weeks ago, he showed me his prize possessions - a 1954 MGTF, a 1969 Aston Martin DB6, both in perfect mint condition, and pride of place his brand new Aston Martin DB7 with a V-12 Cosworth engine. Motor cars, travelling, gardening and family life will keep him active in retirement.

Therefore, Vice-Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you, and to the whole University, Keith Henry Taylor, CBE, FREng, for the degree of Doctor of Science, honorus causa.










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