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Virgin Trains boss to present guest lecture


The Head of Virgin Trains is to present a prestigious annual lecture focused on leadership at the University of Wolverhampton.

Tony CollinsChief Executive Tony Collins will present this year’s Crystal Lecture, organised jointly by the University of Wolverhampton Business School (UWBS) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Tony, who was presented with an Honorary Degree by the University in 2011, will present his lecture, ‘Leadership the Virgin Way’, on Thursday, 18 October 2012.

The annual lecture is aimed at business people from the region and will cover issues such as how a brand can help and hinder leadership and the role of company values.

The free event in room MC001 at the Wolverhampton City Campus will include light refreshments and networking from 6pm, with the lecture to start at 7pm.

Dr Anthea Gregory, Dean of the UWBS, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Tony Collins back to the University to present the Crystal Lecture. Each year this event enables us to consider and debate topical issues in the world of business and management, and I’m sure this year’s lecture will provide interesting insights into leadership at one of the country’s most recognisable and successful companies.”

Jeremy Vanes, from the CMI Wolverhampton Branch, said: “We are delighted that Tony has agreed to speak on the topic of leadership. The current economic climate, bringing with it profound uncertainty to all businesses, means that leadership needs to be of the highest calibre.

“Virgin Trains has an outstanding reputation for leading and developing people, and their train services are relied upon throughout the region. The Chartered Management Institute hopes his speech will encourage other managers to join in local networking to improve the quality of leadership across the city.”

Tony Collins is Chief Executive of Virgin Trains. Born in Sedgley in 1957, Tony 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 Tony 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 Tony moved to train building company, GEC Alstom Metro-Cammell, as Financial Director. As the privatisation of British Rail gathered pace, Tony 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 Tony 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 the 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 £900 million per annum.

Tony still lives in Sedgley with his wife and two children, one of whom has recently graduated from Wolverhampton. The University of Wolverhampton presented him with a Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in September 2011.

 The Crystal Lecture is now in its 19th year. Attendance is free but booking is essential due to limited numbers. To book a place at the lecture, contact Marie Porello on 01902 323874 or email


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