An honorary professorship has been awarded by De Montfort University to a philanthropist and business leader from Leicestershire.
Dr. Nik Kotecha OBE DL, has been appointed Professor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Philanthropy at the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, some 35 years after earning his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry.
Since leaving school, Dr Kotecha has become a well-known entrepreneur, having founded Loughborough-based Morningside Pharmaceuticals in 1991, which he divested in October this year. In 2017 he set up his own charity, the Randal Charitable Foundation, which aspires to directly save 1 million lives in the UK and around the world.
Dr Kotecha, who is also Professional Chancellor at DMU, said: “I was carefully considering a career in academia after college, and with 30 years in business instead, I never would have thought that I would receive the title of “professor”.
“To be honored with this title now is special. DMU teaches many students who are in the situation I was in 40 years ago. Many are the first generation of their families to go to university, from families disadvantaged and of diverse ethnic cultures.
“When I meet their families and see these young people walking beside me on stage at graduations, in my role as Professional Chancellor, I am incredibly proud that DMU has provided these excellent graduates with the opportunities they deserve.”
For Dr Kotecha, the position of Honorary Professor is particularly special as his family arrived in Leicester 50 years ago as refugees, when he was a child, after the expulsion of the Ugandan Asian community by the dictator Idi Amin.
Supported by his parents, he was able to secure a County Council scholarship which enabled him to complete a First Class (Hons) degree at Newcastle and then his PhD at Imperial College London with further doctoral research at the University of Cambridge.
In his new role, Dr. Kotecha will give guest lectures, while sharing his expertise with students and scholars from all faculties, with a focus on business development and innovation, as well as on the employability of students.
Speaking of his ambition to share his own experiences, in hopes of inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, Dr Kotecha said, “Education has opened many doors for me and given me important opportunities in life. I would be humbled if today’s students saw my story as an inspiration to elevate their aspirations and pursue their own dreams. It takes passion, commitment, hard work; but can be achieved by anyone with the will and a positive attitude.
“I started Morningside in a garage 30 years ago and grew it through entrepreneurship and innovation into a global pharmaceutical manufacturer and exporter. I hope I can share my story with students and inspire them to say, “If he can do it, I can do it.” If that’s the case, then I will have succeeded in my role as a teacher.
In addition to sharing his experiences with students, Dr. Kotecha will also take on an advisory role to the university leadership team; drawing on his experience as an influencer in business, politics and philanthropy.
This experience as a regional and national leader in business includes chairing the East Midlands CBI, a Department for International Trade Export Champion; and board member of the Midlands Engine Council, Center for Social Justice, British Asian Trust and Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
Speaking about the advice he plans to share with students, Dr Kotecha added, “I was there making life-changing decisions as a student in the 1990s, so I understand what life is going through. today’s students. I would love to help them discover that the skills they learned in academia will open them up to so many other exciting opportunities around the world.
“My advice would be to find your passion. Then when you find your passion, find your life purpose. And after you find your life purpose, find your career.
Congratulating Dr. Kotecha on his appointment, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Simon Oldroyd, said: “DMU is so proud to welcome Dr. Kotecha as Professor of entrepreneurship, innovation and philanthropy. He is one of Leicestershire’s great business success stories and has helped millions around the world.
“The vast experience that Dr. Kotecha has accumulated in the world of medicine, business and philanthropy over 35 years, coupled with his incredible drive to succeed and help others, will bring tremendous benefits to our students, academics and the community at large.”