(Brighton UK) One of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, Simon Fuller, flew into the UK today (31 July) to receive an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Brighton.
The man credited with steering the career of David Beckham and founding a management firm representing Britain’s tennis No 1 Andy Murray, Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton and cycling’s Sir Bradley Wiggins, was honoured for his major contribution to business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Fuller, who hails from Hastings and whose father was a headmaster in the town, was also recognised for his associations with charitable initiatives including Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Save The Children, The Prince’s Trust, The United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and Comic Relief. He is also a founding trustee of Malaria No More.
During university awards ceremonies at Brighton Dome today he told graduates: “You are, of course, in the coolest town in England and the coolest university in England.”
He offered advice on how graduates can make their dreams become reality and told how he started out, studying at Hastings Grammar School and later Hastings College: “I used to love music and had a passion for music but sadly I found out early I couldn’t play an instrument and didn’t really sing that well.
“I had an affinity with music and musicians and I thought well, maybe I could be a manager.”
He started managing local bands but he wasn’t immediately successful and took jobs as a hotel kitchen porter in Eastbourne and as a waiter in London and then “hustled and tried to meet people – I wanted to be a manager”.
He took a job with the London record company Chrysalis and later set up on his own – and his career started taking off.
Fuller told graduates: “If you follow your intuition then trust me, it will work, you’ll be better at everything. I have been lucky enough to do what I love to do. “Value every day, make the most of every day. There’s something about youth that – you don’t quite value time as much – so really make the most of every day. Every day is precious, don’t waste it.”
Carol Burns, the university’s Registrar and Secretary, said Fuller’s artists included Annie Lennox, Kelly Clarkson, Amy Winehouse and Will Young.
The youngest of three boys, Ms Burns said Fuller grew up to the sound of The Beatles and set up a music club at school in Hastings, buying and selling records and later representing bands. Still a schoolboy, he was responsible for The Clash and The Pretenders appearing on Hastings Pier. By the age of 22 he was talent spotting for Chrysalis Records and three years later set up on his own, building a portfolio of talent including the Spice Girls.
He launched the TV show Pop Idol and his American Idol show became the top-rated in the US for 10 successive years. With sponsors donating to charity for every vote cast in another TV show, Idol Gives Back, a total of $185 million has been raised for causes such as Save The Children, The Global Fund and Malaria No More.
Ms Burns said: “In Simon Fuller, the University of Brighton recognises someone with the values and skills we seek to develop in our own graduates; entrepreneurship, courage, vision, great communication skills, integrity and social purpose.
“Simon’s is not a rags-to-riches story but it is the story of a young man from a then sleepy coastal town who was not afraid to take on the most powerful forces in his world. We are proud today that Simon has agreed to become a member of this university.”