Tony Collins was awarded a Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his significant and successful contribution to the railway management and rail passenger service of Virgin Trains.
Mr Collins said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded this honorary degree. I am a very proud Black Country lad and to receive this from my local university is such an honour.”
Born in Sedgley in 1957, Mr Collins left school at 16 to start an apprenticeship with Rockwell-Thomson, a motor pressing manufacturer in Ettingshall. After five years of training he became a qualified chartered management accountant, rising to a Fellow of the Institute in 1987.
Throughout his career Mr Collins has held a number of financial positions including at Austin Rover in Longbridge and Yale Fork Lift Trucks in Wednesfield. In 1989 he became Financial Director at GEC Cannon Industries based in Coseley.
In 1993, Mr Collins moved to train building company, GEC Alstom Metro-Cammell, as Financial Director. As the privatisation of British Rail gathered pace, he spent time as Procurement Director and then Commercial Director, culminating in leading the negotiation team who sold the Pendolino Tilting Trains to Virgin.
In 1999, Mr Collins joined the Virgin Rail Group as Major Contracts Director responsible for introducing the Pendolino and Voyager trains into passenger service and overseeing the upgrade to the West Coast mainline infrastructure.
In 2004, he became Chief Executive, based in Birmingham, and today has responsibility for Virgin Rail business which carries 30 million people a year, employs 3,500 people and has a turnover of £900million per annum.
Mr Collins still lives in Sedgley with his wife and two children, one of whom has recently graduated from Wolverhampton.
The award was presented at a ceremony at the Grand Theatre on Thursday September 8.
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