Nicola Mendelsohn

Presentation address by Professor Catherine Cassell


For more than a century, the University of Leeds has celebrated excellence and achievement by awarding honorary degrees.  The process is always rewarding, but especially so when the honour is being given to one of our own graduates.

The English and Theatre Studies graduate we have before us today has been described both as 'the most powerful British woman in the tech industry', by the Daily Telegraph, and as ‘one of the coolest women in UK Tech’, by Business Insider.  Indeed, Chancellor, I can confidently suggest that practically everyone in this room will have had some contact with the company she leads and the services for which she is responsible.

Nicola Mendelsohn – Lady Mendelson – is Vice President of Facebook EMEA.  This means that she is Facebook’s most senior executive outside the USA, and that she runs the social network’s presence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Appointed to this position in June 2013, she has extensive experience in the advertising industry.  Previously she was Executive Chairman at Karmarama, Deputy Chairman of Grey London, and a Board Director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

In 2015 Nicola was given a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for her work in the creative industries:  aside from her work at Facebook, she’s co-chair of the Creative Industries Council, a joint forum between the industry and the UK government.  In 2011 she became the first female president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Often described as one of the best connected people in the business world, Nicola is not only an advocate for the creative industries, but also a voice for women in the workplace:  she is fervent in advocating flexible working and work-life balance.  Believing that the traditional ‘nine to five’ is an outdated way of doing things, she has urged more companies to give their employees the chance to choose their working hours.  Nicola’s passionate commitment to championing the case for women’s opportunities has led to her being a vocal advocate for, and supporter of, female entrepreneurs.  She is a role model for women in business and, as a mother of four children herself, works hard to promote the message that women have much to add to the international workforce.

Chancellor, today we honour an exceptional leader at the forefront of the technology, advertising and social media industries.  I am delighted to present to you for the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa:  Nicola Mendelsohn.