Lancashire business leaders awarded honorary professorships by local university

Hon Profs Melissa Conlon and Kam Kothia

Two local leaders of industry have been awarded special honorary awards from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Melissa Conlon, the commercial director at AMRC North West, and Kam Kothia OBE DL, chief Executive Officer of eBusiness UK, have been granted Honorary Professorships. 

The duo has been working with the University across a variety of cyber, engineering and additive manufacturing related projects involving both staff and students for a number of years.

Melissa Conlon has a history of working in the information technology and Advanced Manufacturing sector. In addition to national and international roles for GE and BNP Paribas, some of her roles have been based in Lancashire, including spells at UCLan’s Preston Campus, Blackburn College, Commercial Director of a local digital agency and now in her current role at AMRC’s new multi-million-pound base in Samlesbury.

The strong advocate of UCLan is playing a part in the National Cyber Force project and she is using her position to include the University within the work being undertaken at the AMRC, just outside the city centre.

Melissa is working closely with academics within the engineering and computing faculties to create and enhance shared projects, develop new programmes and look at the possibility for international bidding opportunities.

In addition, Melissa has been working to develop academic partnerships within the area of additive manufacturing, she is heavily involved with offering student placements and is looking at ways to embed UCLan in her work with the Darwen Town Deal.

She said: “It is an honour and great privilege to receive this award and I am committed to supporting both staff and students. Over the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to see the outstanding work carried out by UCLan and how it has had a transformational impact on the region.  

Kam Kothia, chief executive of Blackburn-based digital marketing agency eBusiness UK and Chair of the Star Academies Trust, has been working with UCLan’s Professor StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) to maximise opportunities for UCLan to contribute to regional economic prosperity strategies. He is discussing future projects with UCLan’s drone research team and advising UCLan staff on the needs of businesses for UCLan’s digital graduates.

The Board Director and Digital Sector lead for the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has invited UCLan colleagues to support and contribute to the development of the digital sector strategy for Lancashire.  He has also been working with Professor StJohn Crean and other UCLan colleagues on the National Cyber Force People and Skills working group, and the National Cyber Force Industrial Collaboration group

He said: “I am deeply honoured and grateful to receive this prestigious award from the University of Central Lancashire. As an engineering graduate, it is truly humbling to be given the opportunity to support the School of Engineering’s innovation and enterprise agenda.  I am excited to share my knowledge and expertise with the students and faculty at the University.

The Honorary Professor roles are initially bestowed for three years.

Professor Crean said: “I’m delighted we can recognise Melissa and Kam with these highly prestigious Honorary Professorships because they are both so invested in building links between ourselves and many areas of innovation within the region.

“I have the great pleasure of working with them both on many research and enterprise initiatives and they are fantastic business advocates who bring a wealth of experience to a variety of student and staff projects. They are very well respected, not only within Lancashire’s business community but now on a national level with their strong links to the development of the National Cyber Force.”