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Winter Graduations 2023: Leanne Cahill installed as Chancellor

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Published on 01 December 2023

Emeli Sandé MBE (left) and Leanne Cahill
Emeli Sandé MBE (left) and Leanne Cahill

Leanne Cahill, CEO of retail company Bravissimo and University of Sunderland graduate, has been officially installed as the University’s Chancellor.

She follows in the footsteps of multi-platinum selling singer and songwriter Emeli Sandé MBE after four years in the role. 

Emeli performed the official handover today (Thursday 30 November) during the University’s Winter Graduation Ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.

Both she and Leanne also received honorary awards during the ceremony in recognition of their inspirational work in different fields of endeavour. 

Emeli received an Honorary Doctorate of Music, while Leanne has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in recognition of her outstanding business career and work in promoting social mobility and inspiring confidence in others. 

Leanne was born and raised in Sunderland and studied at the University.

She began her career on the shopfloor as a Marks & Spencer management trainee before specialising in finance. She has since held a wide range of roles at Legal & General, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Travelex.

Leanne joined Bravissimo in October 2017 as finance director. She was promoted to managing director in September 2018, becoming chief executive officer in December 2020.

The University is hosting its largest ever round of Winter Graduation Ceremonies with more than 2,000 students stepping onto the stage to collect their degrees.

Twelve ceremonies are being held across three days at the Stadium of Light (Tuesday 28 November, Thursday 30 November and Friday 1 December) – to celebrate all the hard work and effort students have committed to their studies over the past few years.