High-flier Paul goes back to his roots

Date published: 29 June 2018

Hugely influential businessman Paul Walsh, former CEO of drinks giant Diageo and now Chairman of Compass Group, the market leader in contract catering, returned to his roots yesterday (Thursday) as he visited Oldham College and University College Oldham. 

Mr Walsh grew up in Oldham and attended Royton and Crompton School and Oldham College.

He has visited his former school and college before, and was awarded an honorary degee some years ago by UCO in recognition of his professional success, support and willingness to share his story.

During an event which formed part of the two-week long Oldham Learning Festival, Mr Walsh toured the college campus with Principal Alun Francis and college governor, Des Herlihy, the former Headteacher at Royton and Crompton School.

Mr Walsh spoke to school and college students and then spoke to business leaders at a lunchtime networking event at Oldham College’s University Centre.

London-based Mr Walsh, who left Oldham to pursue his hugely successful career four decades ago, told the Chronicle: "I've really enjoyed the nostalgia and visiting some of my old haunts these last few days.

"I even had a drive around Chadderton to look at the places where I lived and used to visit as a child. It's been wonderful.

"I've enjoyed a very warm welcome back to Oldham, it's a very warm community. You just get chatting to people and it's been lovely to come back."

The event was organised in large part by another governor and Oldham businessman, Kashif Ashraf.

Kashif said: "Des has known Paul for a long time.

"We discussed the visit with Alun, who was delighted to welcome back a former student to meet students and share his journey of hard work and success.

"This was a great opportunity for governors to add value to the college.’

Principal Mr Francis said: "We are delighted to welcome Paul Walsh back to Oldham College. 

"The College has made enormous progress since he was a student here, with an almost completely new campus and a curriculum which is very relevant to the economy and offers great opportunities for learners at all levels – from entry to degree level studies. 

"Paul has had an illustrious career and it is fantastic that he comes back to support the work we are doing to help the next generation make their contribution. 

"Oldham has some amazing people and our role is to help our them find the thing they are good at, and then to help employers find them.   

"Paul is a great example of the talent the town can produce and the work that the College does."

Mr Herlihy added: “It is always a privilege to return to the educational institutions who gave me such a great start in life.

"I was blessed with great teachers who taught me learning is a lifelong endeavour and it’s fun.