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High Speed Two (HS2) chief Mark Thurston receives honorary degree from UEL

Mark Thurston, chief executive officer of High Speed Two (HS2) given honorary doctorate by UEL

Mark Thurston, chief executive officer of High Speed Two (HS2) has been awarded a honorary doctorate by the University of East London (UEL) at its graduation ceremony on 18 July.

He was given the conferment of Honorary Doctorate of Technology in recognition of his success in managing high profile and complex public and private infrastructure projects, including the 2012 Olympics and Crossrail and his contribution to academia.

Mr Thurston said he was surprised and delighted to have been awarded the honorary doctorate by UEL. 

He said, "This degree means a great deal, as not only is it recognition of my work in the industry over the last 30 years, but more importantly it has the opportunity to inspire a new generation of young people who see their future in engineering and the delivery of major infrastructure". 

In his speech to graduating students Mr Thurston said, "Education and learning is something that I have always recognized and never took for granted. It has helped to define the person I have become.
"The crucial thing I have learned over the years is that the harder you work, the more willing you are to dedicate yourself to continuous learning and developing yourself the more opportunities will open up and be available to you. 

Mr Thurston stated the importance of mentoring and how this can help with continuous learning. He said, "A lot of learning has come from the people around me. I'm a great believer in mentors and mentoring and I have been lucky enough to have had great career models in my life. It's important to have someone who can reassure you, help to re-think a decision and have your back.

Mr Thurston also advised the graduands of the importance of self development in terms of gaining soft skills. He said, "I always tell young people that technical competencies are important but what makes the difference, and what I think is the key to success, is following what I call my 'golden rules'.

"How you conduct yourself, your attitude, becoming self-aware, investing discretionary effort into your network, personal resilience and emotional intelligence are essential. It's not just about what you do but how you do it. 

"At this point as graduands many of you don't yet know what you are capable of achieving in life. My advice is to take the odd risk, push yourselves and strive to meet your full potential every single day.  So when those opportunities do present themselves you are able to grasp them with both hands.

"Although I am 52 I believe today no less than I did as an apprentice 35 years ago that I have more to do in my career and more to learn. "

Mr Thurston began his career working for London Underground, then known as London Regional Transport in September 1983. He undertook a four year apprenticeship and completed an Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) and Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Electronic & Electrical Engineering and later did a distance learning master's degree in Engineering Management at Loughborough University.

His career progressed from being an apprentice to that of a young engineer. Mr Thurston later became a junior project manager and progressed to becoming a senior executive.  He was the programme delivery manager of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the strategic projects director on Crossrail.

In his current role as chief executive officer at Europe's largest project, HS2, he has responsibility for the development and delivery of over 550km of new high speed railways between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

He also works closely with the University of East London, University College London and the Association for Project Management and the Institution of Civil Engineers in order to strengthen links between industry and academia. 

Picture above, from left to right: Professor Amanda Broderick, vice-chancellor and principal of UEL, Mr Mark Thurston and Professor Hassan Abdalla, pro-vice chancellor dean of UEL's College of Arts, Technology and Innovation.