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Dame Sharon White awarded honorary doctorate


Dame Sharon White in graduation robes

Trailblazing Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Dame Sharon White has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford as part of its winter graduations programme which took place from 6 - 8 December.

Recognised consistently since 2014 as one of the most powerful black British people, she is set to top the list published by Powerlist in 2023. 

Dame Sharon said: “It’s a huge honour to be here today. I’ve been very lucky that I've done the jobs that I’ve done, but I think how you measure success is whether you’re lucky enough to feel that you’re making a difference, working with some great people and having some impact.

“I think there’s something about mobilising women and people from different backgrounds so that there isn’t a need for lists of achievements in ten years because it’s just part of normal life.

“That’s what’s so great about the University of Bradford; it’s a university which is so clearly inclusive and drawing on talent amongst the students but also amongst the academics.”

Her honorary doctorate is the latest in an impressive list of accolades, after being appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her commitment to public service in 2020. She has previously worked as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, only the second woman in its history to take on the role, and the first black woman to do so. 

Speaking to the graduates and their guests when receiving her award, Dame Sharon said: “I didn’t have a plan when I graduated. But what’s been great for me, and what may be helpful for you, is there is something about being really open to new opportunities, being open-minded about what may come around the corner.

 “Think about the values that work for you and the organisations that match those.”