Leading business strategist receives University Fellowship
A Welsh-born business expert who has played a major role in the development of a number of the world's top business schools was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Swansea University today (Wednesday, July 16).
Professor Howard Thomas, born in Llanishen, Cardiff, the son of a Glynneath coal miner who became an electrical engineer and a school teacher from Pontarddulais, moved to London in his early years as his father pursued his new career.
As a scholarship boy, Professor Thomas attended Dulwich College, but weekends were spent with the London Welsh community on the rugby terraces at Old Deer Park, and family holidays each year back home on the Gower.
He graduated with a PhD and a DSc from Edinburgh University and prior to his first academic appointment, Professor Thomas was an assistant lecturer in the statistics department of the London School of Economics (LSE).
A year later, he went to the University of Chicago to study for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), specialising in mathematical methods.
Exposure to the application of mathematical analysis and to the problems of business decision making had a profound effect on the future direction of Professor Thomas' career, and he has consequently played a major role in the development of a number of the world’s top business schools.
He has built a career as a leading thinker in the analysis of decision making and business strategy on an international stage.
Professor Thomas held an academic appointment at the London Business School when it first opened in the 1960s, and later accepted an invitation to become one of four foundation professors at the Australian Graduate School of Management in Sydney.
He was Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois between 1991 and 2000, and he accepted a further academic challenge in 2000, becoming Dean of Warwick Business School, where he is currently appointed.
Under his leadership, Warwick Business School has become one of Europe’s leading schools of management.
Professor Thomas has published more than 30 books and 200 articles, including some leading texts on strategic management.
His academic research spans papers in leading journals in strategic and general management, covering a range of topics in competitive strategy, in cognitive strategy, in change management and in the analysis of strategic risk.
He has also acted as consultant to an impressive list of the world's top companies, including State Farm Insurance, Unilever, Shell, HSBC, and Prudential.
Professor Thomas is shortly to serve as chair of the Association of Business Schools and also as chair of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
Speaking after receiving the Fellowship, Professor Thomas, who now lives in Stratford-Upon-Avon, said: "It's a great honour; I'm bowled over and surprised to have received this Honorary Fellowship from Swansea University.
"For me, as a Welshman, it's fantastic and I wish my parents could have been here today to see it."
Swansea University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies, said: "I am delighted Professor Thomas has been recognised today for his contribution to the field of business strategy – a field that has special prominence at Swansea University with its dedicated School of Business and Economics.
"His commitment to the development of business strategy has taken him worldwide and secured his place as an internationally-renowned scholar, yet he still retains close ties with his home area. Particularly impressive has been Professor Thomas' leadership in the development of a number of major business schools and we hope that, as an Honorary Fellow of the University, he will be able to offer us some advice!"
For more information about Swansea University Graduation Week and this year's Honorary Fellows, follow this link.