Bold, innovative, impactful. Meet the winners of the 2022 Alumni Awards, which shine a light on the achievements of Imperial alumni.
Now in its third year, the programme celebrates role models and thought-leaders within the alumni community, shining a light on the contributions of Imperial graduates to science, engineering, medicine, business and society across three award categories.
Improving lives worldwide
The winners of this year's Distinguished Alumni Award are Professor Sir Stephen Holgate CBE (MBBS Medicine 1971), a physician who has made a significant contribution to respiratory research, and Dr Nik Kotecha OBE (PhD Chemistry 1992), whose company Morningside Pharmaceuticals is making quality healthcare affordable and accessible worldwide.
When you have a passion, you'll have a purpose. And you can build your career from that purpose and meet any challenge. Dr Nik Kotecha OBE Joint winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award 2021
The Distinguished Alumni Award honours alumni who have demonstrated sustained excellence in their personal and professional achievements, are leaders in their field or have made a substantial impact on society.
Stephen has won global recognition for his work in respiratory research, asthma management and the links to air pollution, which has impacted both individuals and whole societies including a landmark case where air pollution was named as the cause of an asthma sufferer's death.
Reflecting on his work over the years, Stephen says, "I’d like to think that I put patients and people first. Honesty and truthfulness and sharing are the things my parents taught me.
"Ambition is great, money is great, cars are great, holidays are great, but putting people first and appreciating the importance of empathy when you’re making a decision, is what I’d like to be remembered for."
Nik also believes in putting people first and has dedicated his career and the resources of his foundation to providing affordable healthcare, worldwide, tackling issues such as water sanitation, supporting marginalised communities hit hard by COVID-19 and providing awareness and support for mental health illness and loneliness. "Hopefully, when I'm not here somebody will say ‘That Nik Kotecha made a difference. He helped people, communities and saved lives."
Celebrating entrepreneurial success
Launched in 2021, the Alumni Entrepreneur Award recognises innovative and creative alumni entrepreneurs who can demonstrate commercial success, growth and impact.
We started the company in Cyprus from scratch. At that time we were pioneers. Now I am happy to see a growing industry here. Dr Tasos Kounoudes Winner of the Alumni Entrepreneur Award 2022
This year's winner is Dr Tasos Kounoudes (PhD Electrical & Electronic Engineering 2000), who founded SignalGeneriX, one of Cyprus's first R&D technology companies, after completing his studies at Imperial.
Thinking back to his company's early years, Tasos says: "High technology R&D was a completely new industry in Cyprus at the time, and now lots of people work in this field."
When asked for his advice for budding entrepreneurs, Tasos is quick to point out the importance of facing challenges head on: "We face challenges from our first day of education. We’re taught, and learn through our professional career how to find solutions. I still face new challenges after running the company for so many years.”
Tasos is joined by highly commended alumna Val Yap (MSc Management 2012), founder of digital platform PolicyPal, who is on a mission to reinvent the insurance landscape in Asia and beyond.
Leading by example
Six alumni have been recognised with the Emerging Alumni Leader Award, which celebrates graduates from the last 15 years who are inspiring role models, mentors or champions for equality and are making an impact on society.
If you do things for the right reasons - not for money or recognition - everything will always fall into place. Dr Reeba Oliver Joint winner of the Emerging Alumni Leader Award 2022
The winners include medics Dr Azeem Alam BEM (Medicine 2015), co-founder of medical education platform BiteMedicine; Dr Chiara Bucciarelli-Ducci (PhD Medicine 2012) who combines her role as CEO of the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance with clinical duties and mentorship; and Dr Reeba Oliver (PhD Medicine 2009), who established the UK's first walk-in clinic for victims of female genital mutilation.
They are joined by Dr Harsh Pershad (Chemistry 1996, MBA 2014), an energy innovation specialist inspiring passion for change and encouraging LGBT+ visibility in the workplace; Mervin Azeta (MSc Sustainable Energy Futures 2015), who was motivated by a tragic loss to dedicate herself to making energy available to all; and Tony Shen (MEng Aeronautics 2007), a leader in Asian aerospace who is addressing sustainablity and tackling gender imbalance in STEM.
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