Alan Hughes

Former member of the University Council

Alan Hughes was awarded an Honorary Degree in Summer 2022. Here you can read his degree oration.

Senior Pro-Chancellor,

Council is a fundamental asset of our university. As the senior governing body of the University, it oversees all strategic matters and sets the direction of the institution.

Over the years, Council has played a critical role in guiding Loughborough University to become one of the leading higher education institutions in the country.

Today, I am honoured to present to you an individual who has been a dedicated supporter of Loughborough University and its Council for many years, serving as Deputy Chair of Council, Pro-Chancellor and Honorary Treasurer.

Alan Hughes has played an active role in the life of the University and has been a vocal advocate of the University's strengths. He was a source of counsel and support to many colleagues and his regular interaction was greatly valued. 

His input has been greatly valued as a member of numerous committees including Finance Committee, Estates Management Committee, Nominations Committee, Remuneration Committee and the Chair's Advisory Group.

During his time on Council, Alan oversaw numerous significant investments made by the University, including the approval of new loan facilities, the establishment of Loughborough University London, and the extensive capital programme, including the refurbishment and creation of new halls of residence, teaching facilities such as STEMLab, and research infrastructure such as the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine and the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology.

Away from the University, Alan is Chair of Unity Trust Bank plc. He joined the organisation after an impressive career in banking, with the intention of encouraging competition and service innovation in banking and finance. He has since extracted Unity Trust Bank plc from the Co-op Bank and established it as the bank for socially-minded SMEs.

Alan is also currently Senior Independent Director and Deputy Chair at Mitsubishi HC Capital UK plc and non-executive Chair at Equals Group plc.

The majority of Alan’s career in banking and finance was spent at HSBC, where over 35 years he rose from the position of clerk to the UK/EU executive board as General Manager with responsibility for all products, services, pricing, and marketing.

He ran high-growth commercial finance business units and subsidiaries, from trade finance to internet banking, both domestic and internationally.

Alan introduced the HSBC name in the EU and conceived and implemented the changes that re-established the UK Bank’s reputation at that time.

He also made First Direct - a division of HSBC UK Bank plc - into an online, not just a telephone bank; trebled the size of the company; increased its profits over the course of five years; and raised its profile to the UK’s most recommended bank for customer service. Under his leadership, First Direct went on to win the National Business Award for Best Customer Service and was named in the Sunday Times top 50 places to work.

Further previous appointments on Alan’s impressive CV include Chair and non-executive Director of RateSetter, a leading peer-to-peer lending platform in the UK; Chair and non-executive Director of Hampden & Co plc, a new private bank; and non–executive director of New Day Group Ltd, one of the UK’s most significant credit card issuers.

Alan’s expertise has also been called upon away from the private sector. In the 2000s, he served as Chair of the National Identity Scheme Assurance Group - an independent review panel set up on behalf of Parliament - as a member of the UK Government Cabinet Office Delivery Council, and as a non-executive director of the UK Identity and Passport Service.

As can be seen through his work with Loughborough, Alan is an avid supporter of higher education. He gained his MBA from Henley Management College and later completed his banking qualifications, with distinction, and went on to be a tutor for the Chartered Institute of Bankers’ professional qualifications. He has also worked as a visiting lecturer at various institutions including Warwick, where he was named Outstanding MBA Teacher of the Year four years in a row.

Senior Pro-Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you and the whole University, Alan Hughes, for the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.