Gordon Billage's significant contribution to business in this region began with his appointment as Managing Director of Clifford Thames Printing at Brentwood in 1976. In 1978 he set up Clifford Data Processing and went on to expand the company by acquisition of several European operating companies. In 1993 he was appointed Group Chairman and Chief Executive of Clifford Thames Group, until his retirement in 2004. During his 40 years with the company, he has been instrumental in creating a high growth, high value business in information management with offices now established worldwide. Gordon Billage was key to forming a productive and successful learning partnership between his company and our University's Business School at Danbury and its Centre for Total Quality Management.
Gordon Billage also plays an active role in local charities involved in sponsorship and in caring work for young people, the elderly and sick, including the formation of 'Manna Ministries', set up to restore humane conditions in the break-up of the Ceausescu regime in Romania. As a keen Christian, Gordon Billage served on the leadership team at his local church for over 30 years, and has been Treasurer for CADEF (Chelmsford & District Evangelical Fellowship). He is a trustee for several local trusts and charities and served as a governor at St John Payne School in Chelmsford. Current activities include involvement with Hand in Hand Trading Ltd and Theodep Ltd as a director and the FG Charitable Trust as founding trustee, all based in Chelmsford and set up with the express purpose of providing funds for third world projects.
"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of Honorary Master of Science to Gordon Billage, Chairman and Managing Director of the Clifford Thames Group.
The University's Mission is very much about the encouragement and stimulation of regional economic activity, and the activities of Gordon Billage are almost a classical example of the development of the so-called Small Medium Sized Enterprise. In 1976 he was appointed Managing Director of Clifford Thames Printing at Brentwood, but as a lively entrepreneur he soon realised the necessity of diversifying operations beyond traditional print-related activities. He soon, in 1978, set up a new 'non print' company, Clifford Data Processing, and shortly afterwards acquired a German company (A Moeker) in 1978 and a further one (Merkur) in 1986. Soon, the Clifford Thames Group had 7 operating companies, and following a management buyout, Gordon Billage was appointed Chairman and Managing Director in 1993. If extensive British and German operations were not enough, Clifford Thames is now extending its interests in Australia and South East Asia by virtue of an IT based parts analysis strategy with the Ford Motor Company and its suppliers. Through such development, the University thus recognises Gordon Billages's contributions to regional business development.
At a critical time in the Group's development, a most promising alliance was forged with the University's Business School at Danbury and its Centre for Total Quality Management. The personal chemistry between the redoubtable Professor John Pike, Christopher Swaffin-Smith and Gordon Billage has produced a remarkably productive university-industry partnership, which is widely quoted as a classic example of its kind. Under a Department of Trade and Industry Teaching Company Scheme, a sophisticated Total Quality process was introduced which Gordon Billage acknowledges has not only produced technical innovations, but has fundamentally changed the culture of the company. From the University's viewpoint, it has greatly contributed to our own standing as an international source of R and D expertise in this field. Recently, the University was delighted when he agreed to establish the Clifford Thames Chair in International Business, whose occupant, Professor Peter Woolliams is now engaging with the Group on a fresh round of innovations, and we look to further co-operation between the company and other Schools of the University.
Finally, Gordon Billage is a committed evangelical Christian, very active in the Pleshey Trust and other local charities involved in sponsorship and in caring work for young people, the elderly and sick. He has been instrumental in the formation of 'Manna Ministries', set up to restore humane conditions in the break-up of the Ceausescu regime in Romania. This, of course, was a situation of great poverty, widespread hunger and social deprivation, and considerable social instability and helplessness. Faced with this, Gordon Billage applied his business acumen and his belief in sustainability, self determination and self respect, to set up via the Charity, bakeries and refurbishment of a local orphanage in ostensibly unpromising situations. This is a splendid example of the marriage between social conscience and entrepreneurship.
It is therefore, Vice Chancellor, that for his significant contribution to business in this region; to SME development; to building a learning partnership with this University; and for his outstanding service to both regional and international charity work, that I invite you to confer on Gordon Billage the award of the Honorary Degree of Master of Science of this University."