Mr Ian G McAllister, CBE


The BBC News frequently refers to the Ford Motor Company as "the car giant" and not without good cause. Giants come in all shapes, in a variety of large sizes, and with a multitude of dispositions. To ordinary people, they are awesome, and I am sure that many, do indeed stand in awe of the Ford Motor Company, and some find its sheer size, power and success intimidating. However, for Loughborough University, Ford is, to borrow from Roahl Dahl, the BIG FRIENDLY GIANT - a partner in many engineering and management initiatives. Today, I have the great honour of introducing to our Chancellor, and to the wider university, one of the men who have helped shape Ford-today, who guide the behaviour of this car giant, and who have not only proved their ability against the highest standards that this University could set, but who have also proved their friendship through the support that he and his colleagues have offered us over many years. I speak to the life and work of Ian Gerald McAllister.

Ian McAllister — Commander of the British Empire — was born in 1943, son of Ian Thomas and Margaret Mary McAllister. He graduated from UC London with a BSc in Economics in 1964 and joined Ford as a finance trainee in the August of that year. He has obviously proved himself a Ford success story steadily rising up the company - working in Britain, Germany and the USA - until in 1991, he became Managing Director and soon after, Chairman of Ford of Britain within the then newly unified Ford global structure. His roles within the Ford Motor company have been diverse but a consistent theme has been made through Marketing and Sales — he has nurtured the realisation that making a vehicle is only a part of a battle, which, to be won, must include sales, and customer focus. But perhaps more important has been his understanding that all of this can only be achieved through people, and Ian McAllister’s real contribution has been to the development of people wherever they have been in the company. He has encouraged formal study from NVQ to Masters degrees, and sponsored research to even higher levels of attainment. In doing so he has developed a keen knowledge of the British educational system, and its changing focus from teaching to learning spanning all ages and individual and corporate needs. To Ian McAllister, life long learning is an imperative for a successful company. In the case of Ford, as we can now so easily understand here at Loughborough, in the near future, you will be just as likely to buy a car from a graduate as to buy one that has been engineered by graduates.

To become Chairman of Ford of Britain would be sufficiently taxing and yet rewarding for most to preclude other dimensions to their lives. Not so, Ian McAllister.

He has extended his interest and involvement in industry to include the responsibility that industries, small, large and of giant proportions, hold in relation to the communities and environments that provide their wider contexts. His contribution has been made both obvious and effective through the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders — and the Institute of the Motor Industry through the President’s Committee of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, the Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment and Business in the Community. The regeneration of Dagenham is tangible evidence and a lasting testimony to his commitment to the wider community.

Ian McAllister has other wide-ranging interests. He is vice president of Motor Allied Trades Benevolent Fund, and is a member of the Advisory Board of Victim Support. His educational links with Universities - Loughborough and Imperial College are well known, and besides this, he is also a Board member of Anglia University. Ian McAllister is a Trustee of the Beaulieu National Motor Museum. He is also a member of the Lord’s Taverners and a non-Executive Director of Scottish and Newcastle plc: we hope that he enjoys both — that he has the time to enjoy both in what must be a punishing schedule. Yet of course, he does and, at the same time, he is a family man, married with four children enjoying his hobbies of gardening and sport. His real passion, however, is Manchester United. As in all other walks of his life — Ian McAllister is not only committed and enthusiastic, but he is genuine: he is one of the minority of supporters for this truly global club that actually comes from Lancashire.

Ian McAllister, then, is an obvious giant of a man in a giant of a company: an achiever, a master worker within the world of motor manufacture, marketing and sales, an investor in education and people, a friend to the community, and, most of all for us, a friend of Loughborough University. It is indeed an honour for us to recognise his achievements. Chancellor, I present to you and the whole university, Ian Gerald McAllister, Economist and Companion of the British Empire, for the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.


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s.p.rowbottom@lboro.ac.uk, July 1999. Copyright © Loughborough University. All rights reserved.