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Alltech Founder is Awarded Prestigious Honorary Doctorate from Leading Scottish University

Heriot-Watt University recently (November 20, 2004) conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Science on President and Founder of Alltech, Dr. Pearse Lyons. Dr. Lyons was awarded the degree in recognition for his outstanding achievements as a businessman who understands the value of science and innovation. His personal and corporate philosophy is based on taking pride and responsibility in the use of nature's resources and using those resources to provide global solutions for the animal feed industry. This is aligned with Heriot-Watt's own commitment to sustainable development, and producing graduates who not only know their subject but also its global context.

This is Dr. Lyons' 2nd honorary degree this year. He was previously conferred an Honorary Doctorate from University College Dublin, the National University of Ireland.Below is an excerpt from Dr. Lyons' speech:

...What can I say about education, about the university, about life?

First and foremost, the university is about ideas. It is about imagination. Einstein pointed out to us that imagination was more powerful than knowledge. It is infinite and it is ever-changing.

So, as I see it, Heriot-Watt is a great place of ideas, a great place for imagination, I salute your graduates and I say to them, take advantage of the great life that lies in store for you. Take your university background, take your university education, your ideas, and marry them with the world of needs and you will be successful. Certainly it has happened in my case.

As you take your ideas and test them, remember, your ideas must be malleable. They must be changeable.

Today we need leaders, not labels. We need leaders in the true sense of the word. A leader is somebody who, once convinced that a particular course is right, must have the determination to stick with it. He or she must be undaunted when, and it will happen, the going gets tough. The old phrase is as true today as it ever was, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."

I feel very lucky in my career. But you know, the harder I work, the luckier I get.

A great American President, Calvin Coolidge, once said, "It is perspiration, not inspiration. It is 98% perspiration, 2% inspiration." I urge your students, therefore, to be where the action is. Don't live in a town, or an area, in an environment where the average age is 'deceased.' You need to be the action.

In my whole life I have asked two people for their autographs. One turned out to be a great football coach, Lou Holtz, and the other to be a great U.S. President, Ronald Reagan.

Both shared a zest for life. Both believed in life and lived it to the full. President Reagan said it best when he said, "The house we hope to build is not for our generation but rather for yours and future generations. It is your future that matters. I hope that, in the future, you will be able to look back and say that you lived in freedom and that you lived a life that was a statement, not an apology."

The second gentleman that I asked for an autograph, Mr. Holtz, was in the business of building teams and running them like a ship.

What advice would he give you about your team, your ship? I believe Mr. Holtz would have said, a team is a group of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. So make sure your crew think they can do anything, and they probably will.

Secondly, never fail the London Times Test. Never do anything today that you would be ashamed to read of in tomorrow's London Times. Lead by example. It's funny, how very often the problem is you. Never forget the affect that you can have on people.

The third piece of advice is to create an atmosphere of trust. If you expect the best from your team, you will get it but you must also nurture their freedom to fail. Bet on people that think for themselves. Get them to ask forgiveness, not permission. The secret to good work is often good play.

As you move forward, therefore, build your team, continuously and honestly. Reinvent yourself, your life, your ideas every day.

And so, Mr. Vice Chancellor, Dr. Archer, as I humbly accept your D.Sc and I reflect on how my initial $10,000 investment has grown into a company of some 1,500 people, I say thank you. I hope your students will take their ship, their lives, their education and be the rising tide that lifts all boats. It is their ship. It is up to them to make it the best and become the team that could, would, and did...

Alltech is one of the top 20 animal health companies in the world, employing 1,500 people throughout 76 countries in the world.