Bilston boy turned JLR boss tells students ‘be audacious and think big’
A top car boss shared some of the secrets of his considerable success with degree students in Wolverhampton – the same place he graduated from 35 years ago.
Adrian Hallmark, the former Jaguar Land Rover director, who was last year appointed chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, challenged them above all to ‘be audacious and think big’.
The advice was passed on at a ceremony at the city’s Grand Theatre where he received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Wolverhampton.
And despite a sparkling international career, the Bilston-born captain of industry said he 'still felt humbled' at his recognition by the university, admitting he was ‘lost for words’ when he opened the invitation.
He told the audience: “I stand before you, a boy from Bilston, with a career I can only have dreamt of when I look back on the last 30 years or so, and still I’m humbled and honoured to be presented with this prestigious recognition.”
In a speech full of optimism and encouragement, he said the future in 2018 looked very different to the one he faced in 1983 when he finished his studies at a time when industry and engineering in the Black Country and wider West Midlands was in decline.
“Now this area is in growth,” he said. “And if I look at the amount of innovation, new technologies, even in the automative industry, that are already happening and will come, I can’t imagine the opportunities you will have as part of this whole revolution in the way that we move and live as a society.”
JLR’s former head of global strategy, aged 56, advised the students to find their own way and not to emulate others.
He said there were ‘important realities and truths’ that applied whatever they did.
Passing on his top five tips he said: "Be audacious - think big, never limit your own potential.
"Plan to be successful, to be better than you are, but don't get fixated on how you are to achieve that plan, be flexible.
"Make as many decisions as you can, and make sure most of them are good because if you only make one and it's wrong, it's not so clever.
"Learn as much from incompetent people around you as the competent ones and look after yourself when you're under pressure because if you're not strong, you can't look after the people or organisations that you're responsible for.
"Finally, continuous learning and self-development sets the best apart from the rest. Never forget that important message."
Mr Hallmark, 56, who was a student at the former Wolverhampton Polytechnic, said he felt the award was undeserved to some extent but added he had learned it was sometimes good to see how other people viewed us, whether critical or complimentary, and accept the feedback openly.
"In that sense, I take this award very seriously, and today is one of those rare positive moments in terms of recognition," he added.