Commonwealth Games president and a tech entrepreneur awarded honorary degrees from Queen Margaret University
Queen Margaret University’s (QMU) graduation ceremonies were brimming with inspirational personalities this year as a trailblazing female sports administrator and a serial entrepreneur were awarded honorary degrees on Tuesday 4th July.
Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the international organisation responsible for the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games, and the governing body of the Commonwealth Games associations, has been a trailblazer for women in the administration and management of sports. Dame Louise was joined by George Mackintosh, a serial entrepreneur, who has managed and invested in IT and tech businesses across the world. George founded TestPlant, now EggPlant, an automated software testing company that operated in 30 countries and which was named an EMEA 500 business.
Dame Louise Martin and George Mackintosh, who each were awarded a Degree of Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa by Queen Margaret University, were joined by Dame Prue Leith CBE, Chancellor of QMU, and 800 new graduates and their families in Edinburgh’s beautiful Usher Hall.
This year, QMU’s ceremonies ran over two days to accommodate the University’s growing number of graduating students. The events saw the first cohort of graduating students from the BSc Paramedic Science, BA (Hons) Education Studies and the BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary). Students from these courses will take up vital positions as paramedics in Scotland’s NHS, as primary teachers in schools, and in education roles across Scotland and beyond.
Dame Louise Martin has devoted most of her adult life to sports administration and just like the founders who established Queen Margaret University in 1875, she has been a trailblazer for women in leadership. She was the first woman to chair Scotland’s Commonwealth Games Council, taking up her post in 1999. She was the first woman to join the executive board of the Commonwealth Games Federation, serving as Secretary from 1999 to 2015, and the first female to be elected President of the Federation in 2015.
In 1962, a young Louise represented Scotland in swimming, reaching the finals in what was then the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. She studied at the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science (the predecessor to what is now Queen Margaret University), after which she went on to lecture at the college and to teach home economics in schools. Combining her love of sport with her background in food nutrition, Dame Louise later qualified as a sports nutritionist.
Her passion for sport and her drive have taken her to the very highest level of sports administration. En route to her senior leadership roles with the Commonwealth Games, she was President of Scottish Gymnastics and Chair of SportScotland. She is also renowned for leading the bid which secured the Commonwealth Games for Glasgow, and was pivotal in the planning for the 2014 games. Dame Louise was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003, and elevated to Dame Commander in 2019.
A farmer’s son, George Mackintosh grew up in the north of Scotland, before studying at the University of Edinburgh where he co-founded the Edinburgh University Industrial Society. With a passion for motor racing, George started his career as a production foreman at the Ford Motor Company, but with a strong entrepreneurial drive, he quickly moved into the world of conference calls and managed and invested in businesses across the IT and tech sectors.
In 2008, George founded TestPlan, now known as EggPlant, an automated software testing company, which was to become his biggest success. This grew to be a global business which received many accolades, including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise three times, before it was acquired by California based Keysight Technologies for $330m in 2020.
During his time at EggPlant George was also giving up his time to support the University of Edinburgh’s Business School – working as an Associate and Entrepreneur in Residence. On top of this, he was the chairman of shellfish exporter Laeso Fish, as well as vice chairman of the CBI’s SME Concilu. But in a project that would take him back to his farming roots, in 2017 George saved Papple Steading in East Lothian. His aim has been to preserve it as a ‘model farm’, and he is currently working to develop Papple Steading as a business and visitor destination, community centre and agricultural heritage museum.
Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “We are delighted that, today, our students have the opportunity to learn about the career of a strong inspirational women – Dame Louise Martin – who has broken the glass ceiling while improving the landscape for people in sports across the world. Through her accomplishments, she has made a difference to people’s lives and acted as a force for good. Like other pioneering Scots who have influenced the world, George Mackintosh has built businesses which have contributed to the advancement of IT and tech on a global basis. Having achieved incredible success in the business sector, he has now rekindled his passion for farming by developing the beautiful Papple Steading in the heart of East Lothian as an agricultural tech-inspired heritage centre which pays homage to Scotland’s rich agricultural past.
“We are truly honoured to have such exceptional individuals at graduation, and we are delighted to recognise their impressive achievements with honorary degrees.”