UC Berkeley Alumnus Receives Honorary Knighthood for Work In Communications


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Berkeley business and engineering alumnus Arun Sarin was granted an honorary knighthood for his achievements in the communications industry.

Sarin, who received his master's in both business administration and materials science and engineering from UC Berkeley in 1978, was inducted into the Order of the British Empire on Feb. 5. Although Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has not yet bestowed Sarin with the honor in ceremony, he has legally received the distinction.

The award was granted for his "services to the communications industry," according to a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office announcement published online.

According to the official Web site of the British Monarchy, the Order recognizes useful activities of all kinds, and the only criterion for the honor is valuable service. An honorary knighthood is open to nationals of countries where the British monarch is not recognized as head of state.

"It's a tremendous honor, obviously," Sarin said. "I was at Cal between 1975 and 1978, and I got a master's degree in engineering and a master's degree in business. In a way, it was kind of the core educational experience I had, and that was the foundation of my future success."

While serving as chief executive of the mobile phone corporation Vodafone, Britain's largest brand and the world's largest telecommunications company by revenue, Sarin focused on expanding into emerging markets, including Eastern Europe and his native India.

Under his leadership, Vodafone acquired a 67 percent stake in Indian cellular provider Hutchison Essar. Rebranded today as Vodafone Essar, the company is now India's second largest mobile provider by profit.

Today, Sarin said he serves as senior adviser with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and as a director at Cisco Systems, Charles Schwab and Safeway.

"It's always a wonderful feeling when students do achieve success, and certainly, of my students in the business world, he has achieved the most success," said UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering Jim Evans. He said Sarin was a member of his graduate research group in the mid-'70s.

A naturalized American citizen, Sarin was born in central India and received his bachelor of technology in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur before attending UC Berkeley.

Except for the six years when he was the chief executive of Vodafone, Sarin has lived in Piedmont for the last 30 years and has remained involved with the university.

In 2002, he was named Haas School Business Leader of the Year, and he sits on the board of directors at the campus's engineering and business schools. He is also working with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on the Operational Excellence program, which, according to Sarin, aims to provide the best education at the lowest cost.


Contact Nick Myers at [email protected]

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