Laureation Address: Sherry Coutu CBE

Graduation Office
Wednesday 12 June 2024

Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws
Laureation by Dr Gosia Mitka, Business School

Wednesday 12 June 2024 – morning ceremony

Vice-Chancellor, it is my privilege to present for the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa, Sherry Coutu CBE.

Sherry Coutu is a Canadian-born pioneering entrepreneur and investor whose entrepreneurial mindset and commitment to diversity – which we champion here at the University of St Andrews – have not only reshaped industries but also transformed lives. Sherry stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when passion meets purpose, and innovation meets inclusivity.

Recognising the huge value of education, and just like some of you, Sherry was the first in her family to go to university, embarking on a transformative journey that took her across continents to study at the University of British Columbia, The London School of Economics, and Harvard Business School.

Sherry embodies hope, enthusiasm, and optimism, and serves as a testament to our ability to shape our destinies by actively navigating the dynamic landscape of our careers, transforming challenges into opportunities and ideas into action. She has founded, developed, and then sold several successful companies, including Interactive Investor International, a company which offers financial information and investment tools to support other aspiring investors. As a founding Director of Raspberry Pi, she has championed computing education, while promoting diversity in the tech industry, and empowering future generations to use this technology to positively change the world they live in. The Foundation has built a community that is changing the lives of both learners and educators alike.

Throughout her career Sherry has held numerous non-executive director roles and senior leadership positions in several sectors, including financial services, technology, and education. However, her impact extends far beyond the boardroom. Sherry spends her time between profit and non-profit in almost equal proportions: recognising that a good pathway in life is not only about gaining but also about giving back, she is dedicated to philanthropy, with a focus on education and supporting entrepreneurs. She supports charities such as the Prince’s Trust, Cancer Research UK, and Digital Boost.

Sherry Coutu CBE

Sherry is the founder, chair, and CEO of Founders4Schools, a charity which works to enhance young people’s employability across the UK and has a notable presence in Scotland. In 2017, the charity launched Workfinder – a work experience service which connects 16 to 24-year-olds with companies across the country. This initiative is encouraging a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors, thereby contributing significantly to not only the UK’s economic progress but, more broadly, to global economic prosperity.

Sherry has invested in over 70 startup companies, including LinkedIn and Zoopla, and co- founded the Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group to support young entrepreneurs. Through initiatives like the Scale-Up Report and the Scale Up Institute, Sherry has provided guidance and mentorship to businesses seeking to scale up.

Sherry has received numerous awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020, the Veuve Clicquot Social Purpose Award in 2019 and, in 2017, Sherry was named as the Most Influential Woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly.

Sherry was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to entrepreneurship in the New Year’s Honours List in 2013.

Sherry is on a mission to promote digital inclusion and empower people through technology and education. She continues to invest in, mentor and chair businesses, support charitable causes, and champion the importance of education in driving social mobility and innovation.

Graduates, as you embark on your own paths, take a moment to ponder the adventures and career of Sherry Coutu – who I believe is a shining example of what one can achieve with an education, a sprinkle of an entrepreneurial spirit, lots of hard work, generosity, and collaboration.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of her major contribution to promoting and supporting entrepreneurship, education, and diversity in the tech industry, I invite you to confer the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Sherry Coutu.

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