Tom Ilube receives honorary degree from City

Tech entrepreneur and educational philanthropist joins a distinguished list of honorary graduates.

We are delighted to announce that Tom Ilube has been awarded a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding achievements in business and educational philanthropy. Tom embodies the ethos and aspirations of Cass Business School with his commitment to academic and professional excellence, community and enterprise.

About Tom Ilube

Tom attended the University of Benin in Nigeria, where he read Physics. Later, he came to Cass Business School, graduating with an MBA in 1988.

He is the founder and CEO Crossword Cybersecurity plc, a technology company that works with Universities invested in cyber security research to bring their cutting-edge ideas into the commercial world.

Recently, Crossword launched a major initiative called CyberAI, which applies artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to real world cyber security challenges. This timely initiative also brings together world-leading academic researchers, and aims to deliver breakthrough practical solutions to complex challenges.


As a tech entrepreneur, Tom has been successful in building companies such as the internet bank Egg, where he was part of the founding team as Chief Information Officer.

Previously, he founded Garlik, a venture capital-backed identity protection company, which he sold to Experian in 2011. During his tenure as CEO, he persuaded Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, to join his board of advisers.


As an educational philanthropist, he launched the African Science Academy in Ghana – now the leading girl’s science and technology school in Africa.

Tom is Chair of Governors of ADA College, the UK's National College for Digital Skills. He is also Chair of the African Gifted Foundation and was founding Chair of Hammersmith Academy.

In 2017, Tom was named as the most influential person of African and Caribbean heritage in the Powerlist 2017. In the same year, Tom was appointed as a non-executive director of the BBC.

In conversation with Tom Ilube

We took a moment to catch-up with entrepreneur Tom Ilube, ahead of graduation to find out more about him.

What is your greatest professional achievement to date?

I've created a number of businesses including my current one Crossword Cybersecurity plc and chair an amazing school in London ADA College, but the achievement I am most proud of is the creation of the African science academy, a girl’s school in Ghana, specialising in science and maths.

Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame it?

Where do I start? There have been so many: from outright racism, to failure to raise money for my start-ups. How do I overcome challenges? Persistence! I just keep going and going, and eventually. I find a narrow gap to squeeze through, then off I go again.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Seeing a vague idea take form and become a real business that has an impact in the world.

What careers did you want to pursue as a child?

I wanted to be an underwater photographer!

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I worked in McDonalds. I was employed for two whole days, before I was let go – apparently, I wasn't really McDonald’s material. Their standards are very high!

What is your biggest inspiration?

I’m inspired the butterfly effect from chaos theory. “Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" The idea that small changes can have a larger, more significant effect amazes me.

What is the best piece of advice you received?

Something my grandmother used to say: "It will all be the same ten years hence.” It’s not literally true but it reminds me not to worry about short-term challenges and obstacles.

What advice would you give to our students?

Everything you intend to do will be transformed by artificial intelligence over the next 20 years. Every industry and sector will be affected. Careers will exists that haven’t been dreamed of yet. Understand the change. Embrace it. And, then go out and help shape the world.

What motivates you or continues to motivate you?

The feeling that I haven't made enough of a contribution yet. I. Must. Try. Harder.

What book had a significant impact on you?

Tao Te Ching by Lau Tzu.

What piece of technology would you like to see made into a reality?

The Tardis. Who wouldn’t want to experience time travel?

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 

Material success counts for very little compared to the positive feelings you get from helping change people’s lives.

You can watch the 2018 Winter Graduation Ceremonies online.