Inspiring alumni

Login or register

Celebrating inspirational achievements

We’re a community of over 100,000 alumni across 150 countries. Many of our alumni have gone on to make significant contributions in their chosen fields, continuing to show the world their Essex spirit long after their days spent studying with us. 

Across countless industries, Essex alumni continue to demonstrate what it means to be a member of our community. To challenge convention and inequality, to push boundaries, turning powerful ideas into inspirational achievements.


Arts and media

Arts advocator, Althea Efunshile CBE

BA Sociology, 1979 

Althea Efunshile has dedicated her career to social justice, arts, and culture. Starting as a teacher and youth worker, Althea's 40-year career in the public sector culminated in the role of Deputy Chief Executive of the Arts Council England. Now retired, she holds various roles including Non-Executive Director of Channel 4 and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Ballet Black. 

Poetic visionary, Ben Okri OBE

Comparative Literature student 1980s, Honorary Doctorate, 2002

Ben Okri is a leading Nigerian poet and novelist who overcame adversity and homelessness to achieve worldwide recognition. He published his first novel aged 21, became the youngest-ever winner of the Booker Prize and went on win numerous national and international prizes for his work. He is also a cultural activist and his 2017 poem Grenfell Tower, written to raise funds for victims of the disaster, has received more than 6million visits on YouTube. 

Renowned broadcaster, Dotun Adebayo MBE

BA Philosophy, 1987

Dotun Adebayo is a radio presenter, writer, and publisher.  He launched his career as a music journalist for magazines including NME and Time Out. Today he presents the Up All Night show on BBC Radio 5 Live. Also an accomplished writer and publisher; he founded the publishing company X Press, the biggest publisher of black-interest books in Europe and is author of Can I Have My Balls Back Please? Dotun launched Britain's first general interest black internet television station,, to represent under-serviced and neglected minority viewers.  

Cultural icon, Kanatip Soonthornrak

MA Theatre Directing, 2009

Kanatip Soonthornrak, known as LG, describes himself as a perpetual English lover and a student of the world. An actor by training, he has had a successful career as a radio presenter, talk show host and media personality in Thailand. He is the founder of the of Angkriz English Academy, one of the most renowned language schools in Thailand. He has a passion for empowering others and champions learning the English language to an audience of over one million on his social media platforms. 


Business and Economics

Serial STEM entrepreneur, Christina Björnström

BA Politics and Human Rights, 2008

Christina Björnström is a tech entrepreneur. She has co-founded multiple businesses including Atlantic Xing, a management consultant company, and Nooroot, an artificial intelligence, security analysis and visualization platform. Outside of her entrepreneurial endeavours, she advises start-ups on fundraising, business development, and research and development and has also launched STEM initiatives including hackathons for school children.

Nobel laureate economist, Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides

BA Economics, 1970
MA Economics, 1971

Honorary Doctorate, 2012

Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides is a world-renowned economist and professor. In 2010, he was named the joint winner of a Nobel Prize for his work on the economics of unemployment. A year later, he served as the President of the European Economic Association and received the Grand Cross of the Republic of Cyprus, the highest honour to be bestowed. In 2013, Christopher was knighted  in recognition of his outstanding contributions to economics.


Female tech leader, Elizabeth Eastaugh 

BSc Computer Science, 2002

Elizabeth Eastaugh joined the tech industry as a software developer, rising through the ranks to the role of Senior Director in technology development at travel company Expedia.  She is currently Technology Lead at Denmark's largest shipping company, managing teams across the world with a global view and influence. An inspiration for women in STEM, Elizabeth has been recognised multiple times as one of the most influential women in IT and is passionate about encouraging more women to work in technology fields.


Change advocates

Gender equality expert, Dr Monjurul Kabir 

LLM International Human Rights Law, 2001

Monjurul Kabir is a distinguished political scientist, human rights, and gender expert. As a global adviser in Gender Equality and Disability Inclusion at UN Women, Monjurul is helping pave the way for a more inclusive society. Prior to joining UN Women, he held various roles at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and headed the Governance Programme Portfolio in Bangladesh developing, among others, its first ever Human Security, Criminal Justice and Security Sector Reform.

Youth empowerment enthusiast, Raudhah Nazran

LLB Law, 2019

A social entrepreneur, Raudhah Nazran was inspired by her experience with Enactus Essex as a student and launched her own social enterprise, Accelerate Global, not long after graduating. An advocate for supporting the next generation, Accelerate Global aims to tackle youth unemployment worldwide. Her work in Malaysia has seen her deliver innovative government-backed programmes and masterclasses helping young people to gain key employability skills.

Women and girls' champion, Simi Sami Bahous

MA Literature - Drama, 1980

Sima Sami Bahous has more than 35 years of experience in the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment and has worked for a number of international development organisations, including the United Nations in New York where she served as the Permanent Representative of Jordan. A true champion for gender equality and youth empowerment, throughout her career she has advocated for quality education, poverty alleviation and inclusive governance. In 2021, she was appointed the Executive Director of UN Women. 

Public health hero, Dr Ugonnaya Igwilo

MAPH Public Health, 2013

Ugonnaya Igwilo has worked at the forefront of major public health crises in Nigeria. During the Ebola outbreak, she worked at the Emergency Operations Centre in a vital role which helped increase awareness and curb the outbreak of the disease. She has also worked closely with hundreds of patients living with HIV and AIDS and working with the Ministry of Health to provide expertise in the prevention of the Monkey Pox outbreak. Over the last year, she’s been on the frontline of Nigeria’s efforts to fight the outbreak of COVID-19.


Film and Television

Award-winning film director, David Yates

BA Government, 1987

Honorary Doctorate, 2012

World-famous director David Yates is best known for directing the last four films in the Harry Potter franchise, and the subsequent Fantastic Beasts film series where he brought the wizarding world of Hogwarts and Grindlewald to life. Throughout his career he has won numerous BAFTA and Academy awards, but his most impressive accolade was the record-breaking success of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 which remains the highest-grossing film ever released by Warner Bros. 

Pioneering special effects artist, Ellen Poon

BSc Computer Science, 1984
Honorary Doctorate, 2012

Ellen Poon is a world-renowned visual effects expert who has played a key role in the transformation of our cinematic experiences. She has worked on some of the most successful films of all time alongside legendary directors.  Her on-screen accomplishments can be seen in the creatures of Star Wars Episode 1, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and the stunning imagery in Frozen. As well as Hollywood blockbusters, Ellen has a passion for Chinese film projects and has worked on award-winning Chinese films including Hero and Monster Hunt, both earning her Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Visual Effects. 

Marvel icon, Meng'er Zhang

MFA Acting (International), 2019

Meng’er Zhang is a Chinese actress best known for her debut role as Xu Xialing in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first Marvel Studios film with an Asian director and a predominantly Asian cast. Meng’er landed the lead role soon after graduating from East 15 Acting School. 


Government and Politics

Political icon, John Bercow

BA Government, 1985

Honorary Doctorate, 2010

John Bercow is a distinguished politician whose career began as an MP in the 1980s. In 2009, he became Speaker of the House of Commons and held the role for the next ten years seeing the tenure of four Prime Ministers, making him the longest-serving holder of the office since 1945. He worked consistently to increase diversity in Parliament and in his decade as Speaker, oversaw a period of intense political challenges, including the aftermath of the financial crisis, the formation of the first Coalition Government since 1945 and the Brexit saga. 

Women's rights advocate, Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury

PhD Law, 2000

Honorary Doctorate, 2014

Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury has received international recognition for advocating the elimination of violence against women and mainstreaming women's empowerment and employment in Bangladesh. A qualified lawyer, Shirin is an expert in constitutional law and human rights and is the former Speaker of Jatiyo Sangshad, part of Bangladeshi Parliament and the supreme legislative body of Bangladesh. She was the first woman, and youngest person, to ever hold this position, breaking down previously held gender barriers. 

Renowned politician, Professor Yanis Varoufakis

BA Mathematical Economics, 1981

PhD Economics, 1987

Yanis Varoufakis is an economist, author and high-profile politician. Formerly Greek Minister of Finance, he co-founded DiEM2, Europe’s first transnational pan European movement, and is the current leader of political party, MeRA25. Yanis also leads a successful career in research, continuing his work in world-class academia alongside politics.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

Digital creator, Ahmed Faid

BA Economics, 2017

Ahmed Faid is a digital entrepreneur and founded Dose of Society whilst still at Essex. The digital media platform provides a space for unheard voices of socially conscious millennials and has generated over one hundred million views. Ahmed has worked alongside the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Harvard Business School and The Princess Diana Award.

Leading entrepreneur, Ankit Mehrotra

BEng Computers and Telecommunications Engineering, 2005 

Ankit Mehrotra is co-founder of Dineout, India’s largest dining out platform. Every year, Dineout helps more than 40 million diners to discover new restaurants, transforming the eat-out experience in India.  His role as CEO has led to multiple acquisitions over the last eight years, growing Dineout into an enormously successful business named as the Largest Dining Out and Restaurant Tech Platform in India. 

Women's health innovator, Chantelle Bell

BSc Genetics, 2016

Chantelle Bell is the co-founder of Syrona Health, an innovative digital health solution that empowers women to monitor their gynaecological health and educates on conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis. Syrona Health has received recognition for ground-breaking work on a pregnancy-test like device allowing for home cervical cancer tests. 

Tech entrepreneur, Xia Yiping

MSc Telecommunication and Information Systems, 2005

Honorary Doctorate, 2019

Xia Yiping is a trailblazing software engineer and entrepreneur. With an entrepreneurial vision for tackling the challenge of accessible and sustainable urban mobility, he co-founded Mobike. One of the first and largest smart bike-sharing services in the world, Mobike has transformed transport systems in large cities such as Singapore. More recently, Yiping was appointed CEO of new electric vehicle firm, operated with Geely and Baidu, where they are pioneering new electric vehicle designs. 


Law and Human Rights

Human rights leader, Juana Kweitel

LLM International Human Rights Law, 2004

International human rights expert, Juana Kweitel, is Executive Director of Conectas Human Rights, a Brazilian-based NGO with a mission to preserve, implement and extend human rights and consolidation of the Rule of Law in the Global South. Recognised worldwide as a human rights leader, she recently became the Chair of Board for Global Witness, an international organisation breaking the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses.

Marginalised communities' representative, Laya Vasudevan 

MA Theory and Practice Human Rights, 2001

Laya Vasudevan is an advocate for providing legal protection to vulnerable communities and as the former Director of Delhi-based Centre for Legal Aid and Rights, she played a major role in a landmark case which advanced and protected the rights of the transgender community in India. Now working with New Zealand's Ministry of Women, Laya supports the country’s mission for achieving better outcomes for women and girls.

Empowering advocate, Stephanie Case

 LLM International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, 2012

Stephanie Case is a human rights lawyer and women's rights advocate. She gave up a career in corporate law to assist some of the world's most vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, and Palestine. She now works for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Having witnessed first-hand the harmful effects of conflict and the disproportionate negative impact on women and girls, she founded Free to Run, an award-winning non-profit organisation that uses outdoor sports and adventure to create and support female leaders in areas of conflict.

Inspirational lawyer, Trevor James

LLB Law, 1986

Trevor James was the first Black Managing Partner at major city law firm, Morrison and Foerster.  He has over 30 years of experience in providing corporate and international tax advice to international banks, public and private companies, venture capital houses and high-net-worth individuals in a variety of sectors. Constantly campaigning for equality, Trevor's also involved in many of Morrison & Foerster’s Corporate Social Responsibility work, including work for homeless charities. 


Science, Environment and Technology

Community energy leader, Afsheen Kabir Rashid MBE

MEnv Environment, Science And Society, 2005

Honorary Doctorate, 2017

Afsheen Kabir Rashid is the Founding Director of Repowering, a London-based organisation supporting communities with their own renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. Also Chair of Community Energy England and a Board member of Friends of the Earth, she was instrumental in setting up the Muslim Women’s Collective which aims to empower Muslim women to play an active role in improving the environment. 

Global technology leader, Houlin Zhao

MSc Telematics, 1985

Houlin Zhao is Secretary General at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialised agency of the United Nations. An engineer by trade, Houlin leads ITU to deliver its strategic objectives in facilitating international connectivity in communications networks, developing the technical standards that ensure seamless global interconnectivity, and improving technology access to under-served communities worldwide. 

Environmental supporter, Rebecca Daniel

MSc Tropical Marine Biology, 2018

Climate change lobbyer Rebecca Daniel is co-founder of The Marine Diaries, an ‘ocean science communication initiative’ which she set up with friends while still at Essex. The Marine Diaries uses digital media to communicate ocean science, and collaborates with other organisations to educate, influence, and inspire the next generation of ocean warriors. 

Robotics innovator, Ruijiao Li

MSD Computer Science, 2015

A pioneering computer scientist, Ruijiao Li is the founder of AMY Robotics, a tech company specialising in service robot customisation. Once listed as ‘China's Top 10 Most Potential Companies for Commercial Robots’, Ruijiao has led AMY Robotics to become a world-leading and award-winning company with a network of international branches.


Sporting heroes

Nigeria's fastest man, Adeseye Ogunlewe

LLB Law and Politics, 2016

Adeseye Ogunlewe is a professional athlete and Olympian once dubbed 'Nigeria's fastest man'. Arriving at Essex in 2013, he soon began to establish his athletics career and was spotted by the University's Human Performance Unit who helped him knock 0.7 seconds off his 100m time.  Immediately after graduating, he made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where he represented Nigeria in the 100m. 

Boxing champion, Dan Azeez

BA Accounting and Finance, 2012

Dan Azeez is a professional boxer and current holder of the English and British light-heavyweight title. He discovered boxing during his studies at Essex and began competing as an amateur boxer before he made his professional debut in 2017. Since then, he's taken the Southern Area title, the English title and, in November 2021, became the new British light-heavyweight champion.

Record javelin thrower, Harry Hughes

BSc Sports and Exercise Science, 2019

Harry Hughes is a British javelin thrower and the only British athlete to throw over 80m in more than eight year. He became the British Champion in 2019. Consecutive elbow injuries prevented his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 but training and preparation is underway to see him compete at Paris 2024. 

Honorary Graduates

2017 EBS graduation
After Essex: In conversation with Essex Alumni

Hear from members of our inspiring global alumni community about their time at Essex and where life has taken them since.

Join our webinar series