Sandie Okoro appointed University of Birmingham first female Chancellor

The University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom has announced the appointment of British-Nigerian Sandie Okoro as its first female Chancellor.

Okoro was described by the school as one of the country’s preeminent lawyers and equality rights champion.

A statement by the school said, “Sandie Okoro OBE brings a remarkable record of accolades recognising her contribution to diversity, equality and female rights, and is currently Group General Counsel of Standard Chartered where she leads the Bank’s Legal, Group Corporate Secretariat and Shared Investigative Services functions.”

According to the University, Okoro, a Birmingham graduate, succeeds Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE who will step down as Chancellor in July after 10 years in the role; and follows in the footsteps of the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain and the Right Honourable Anthony Eden, the Earl of Avon.

Sandie Okoro is the University’s eighth Chancellor since it was established in 1900.

“Sandie is a proud University of Birmingham alumna, graduating with a degree in Law and Politics from Birmingham before qualifying as a barrister at City, University of London,” the school added.

“After switching roles to solicitor, she held posts including Head of Legal for Corporate Services at Schroders, Global General Counsel at Barings and General Counsel for HSBC Global Asset Management. Sandie was also Senior Vice-President and General Counsel, and Vice-President for Compliance, for the World Bank Group.”

Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said: “We are excited to welcome Sandie as our new Chancellor. She is a highly respected trailblazer in the corporate legal sector and is of course a proud University of Birmingham graduate. To hear her talk about breaking glass ceilings and aiming high is inspirational and reflects the attitude and passion of our university and our commitment to championing equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of the University. They preside at degree ceremonies, celebrating with and inspiring students on their graduation day.

They also perform an important role in engaging with the community and stakeholders and working as an advocate to raise the University’s profile and promote its reputation regionally, nationally and globally.

On accepting the post, Sandie Okoro said: “The wonderful University of Birmingham is the alma mater to three generations of the Okoros, my mum, me and my son.

“So my connection to it is very special indeed. I have followed the University’s outstanding progress very closely since my days there as a student on a full grant back in the 1980s – its dedication to impactful research, its focus on creating an inclusive environment for talented, minority students and educational excellence are themes very close to my heart.

“I am truly honoured and delighted to be appointed Chancellor. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to give a little something back to the amazing University that has given so very much to me and my family.”

Sandie was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2024 New Year Honours for her services to Diversity in International Finance.