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Fantastic four receive Outstanding Alumni Awards

15 Jul 2015

Honours for electronic music pioneer, digital entrepreneur and diversity champion, University mentor and charity leader

Four of our finest former students have been presented with Outstanding Alumni Awards.

The University presented the honours to an electronic music pioneer, a digital entrepreneur and diversity champion, a University mentor and a charity leader as part of the degree ceremonies.

Audio technology leader Mark Crabtree OBE is the founder and managing director of AMS Neve, a leading manufacturer of audio technology equipment. Its mixing desks and audio processors are considered the best in the world, used and owned by many global artists such as The Police, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams.

As a masters student in digital electronics at Manchester in 1974, Mark’s two main interests were electronics, which he’d been passionate about since a small boy, and music. The band he played in couldn’t afford proper equipment, so Mark used his knowledge of electronics to build his own amplifiers, recorders and sound effects equipment.

Mark is also heavily involved in supporting the local community as chair of Burnley Bondholders, a group set-up to encourage business and enterprise in Burnley, and is involved in outreach work designed to raise the aspirations of local school pupils. He has funded engineering teaching for 30 primary schools in the town and has recruited science, technology, engineering and mathematics ambassadors for each.

Digital entrepreneur and diversity champion Lopa Patel MBE was the first Asian woman to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

Lopa is a technology ambassador for STEMNET, which aims to encourage more girls to pursue careers in science, and is a former non-executive director of Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency).

Lopa graduated in biochemistry in 1986. She was a trainee at ICI when one of the company’s marketing suppliers went into liquidation – Lopa stepped in and bought the company, creating her first business, DMS Direct, to supply promotional products to her former employer.

She now has four online media channels, including Redhotcurry.com, the leading south Asian lifestyle website, and e-commerce venture TheRedhotshop.com.

She is also the founder and CEO of equality and inclusion think tank Diversity UK; deputy chair of global volunteering initiative Sewa Day; a non-executive director of EMBG (Ethnic Minority Business Group) and a trustee of educational charity Raha International.

University mentor Lisa Ronson is commercial director for high-end property development firm Ronson Capital Partners, one of Europe’s leading property development companies.

The Gerald Ronson Foundation, set up by her father, property developer Gerald Ronson, has been a generous supporter of the University and Lisa currently serves as a member of Manchester Business School’s Advisory Board, counselling the School on its strategy and engagement with business.

Lisa herself arrived in Manchester in 1987 to begin an undergraduate management sciences degree, from which she successfully graduated in 1990.

She is a great supporter of the University and has returned to speak to undergraduate students about both the property and marketing sectors.

In partnership with other organisations, she is very involved in supporting undergraduates from universities across the UK, including Manchester, helping them prepare for the workplace and find work placements.

Lisa also gives her time to a number of other charitable and community activities, including being a trustee of the Development Board of the Natural History Museum, a trustee of the Gerald Ronson Foundation, as well as the JW3, a North London Jewish Community Centre, and Traine Traide, which assists and trains people back into the workplace.

Oxfam’s humanitarian director Jane Cocking OBE was inspired as a Manchester student by the sense of possibility, aspiration and motivation to make a difference.

She has been back to the University on a number of occasions to give talks at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute about her role and the vital work that the humanitarian sector is involved in all over the world.

Having graduated with a BA (Hons) History in 1981, Jane left her first job, in the rail freight industry and, following a period of further study, she joined the Africa desk at the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) in 1987, now part of the Department for International Development.

It was while on a mission to Somalia with the ODA that Jane found her vocation – providing help, support and guidance to communities in crisis. Back in the UK, she joined Save the Children – and immediately returned to Somalia. Over the next 25 years and more, Jane would play an active part in responding to humanitarian crises in many of the world’s most troubled regions, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

She became Oxfam’s regional programme manager in southern Africa in 2003 and is now humanitarian director, with particular responsibility for ensuring the quality of Oxfam GB's humanitarian work, which amounts to around £116 million.