Honorary Degree for Life Peer

Baroness Sandip Verma has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Leicester.

She received her Honorary Degree at the University’s graduation ceremony in De Montfort Hall on Friday afternoon, 17 January, in front of hundreds of graduating students and their families.

Baroness Verma is an influential and experienced business leader. Since entering the House of Lords in 2006, she has held several key ministerial appointments, and has played an active and advisory role in policy formation and development. Between 2012 and 2016, she served first as Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and then as Minister for the Department of International Development. She has also served as the Lords spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, International Development and the Government Equalities Office, as well as the Departments of Education, Health and Welfare and Pensions. She is currently the Chairman of the Lords European External Affairs Committee and a Member of the Lords EU Select Committee.

She has significant experience of the need for and development of good governance within both large and small organisations. A strong and committed advocate of diversity and inclusion, she is involved in influential initiatives to create a more inclusive working environment and society.

The Department of International Development underwent a series of reform plans under Baroness Verma’s leadership. She took a lifespan approach to policy development and, through consultations, initiated the design of policy papers to tackle global violence against women and girls, focusing on using men and boys as agents of change.

As Minister for the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Baroness Verma worked on long-term business planning and budgets. She introduced modernisation plans, and developed strong relationships with unions.

Before entering the House of Lords, Baroness Verma had a successful career in the SME sector. In the 1980s, she and her husband founded a wholesale business of high-fashion womenswear. In 2000, she created Domiciliary Care Services, which works with local authorities and supports adults within their domestic setting.

Besides serving as Chairman of Domiciliary Care Services, Baroness Verma has also served as an independent Non-Executive Director of the REA (Renewable Energy Association), Chairman of UNWomen UK, Advisor on the Amity University International Board, and Advisor on the Board of Sir John Cass Foundation.

In 2013, she created Powerful Women to address the imbalance of gender representation across the energy sector in middle and senior management positions. Powerful Women has worked with a range of energy companies and associated businesses, and has developed a tool kit in partnership with entities such as EY and the Energy Institute. Baroness Verma also helped launch the Sellafield Women’s Network and supported the setting up of the UK Women in Nuclear Chapter. She received the inaugural Women in Nuclear Award for her work to increase the presence of women in senior roles in the nuclear sector.

Baroness Verma said: “Leicester has been the city that has shaped me into being the person I am today. I arrived in Leicester as a nine-month baby in 1960 from India, this city and this country gave me opportunities to rise and achieve against all the challenges and barriers that many of us have to face. I have a longstanding history with Leicester and will always call it my home.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “Sandy Verma has overcome prejudice to establish herself first as a successful businesswoman and a significant figure within British politics. This Honorary Degree recognises her tireless work in numerous important areas including climate change, international trade and women’s rights, as well as her championing of this city and county. I am delighted to welcome Baroness Verma of Leicester to our University family.”