“You can’t; we don’t know how, and no pupil has ever gone to Cambridge from here.”
This was the response from Greg Lock’s headmaster when he expressed an interest in applying to Cambridge. Determined that today’s Welsh state school pupils don’t get the same response, Greg and his wife have endowed the Greg and Rosie Lock Cambridge Bursaries.
Greg himself made the very most of his time here at Cambridge: playing rugby and making life long friends as well as studying for his degree in Natural Sciences. He is passionate about ensuring that the same opportunities are available today and hopes other alumni will be inspired to offer their support, for example, during the upcoming Churchill Call Campaign in December, which will be fully directed towards raising funds for student bursaries.
Greg Lock, an alumnus and lifelong rugby enthusiast from South Wales, has made a substantial donation to the College. He and his wife have endowed the ‘Greg and Rosie Lock Cambridge Bursaries’ to enable more Welsh state school pupils, boys and girls in equal number, to study STEM subjects at Churchill.
It was rugby which set Lock’s sights on Cambridge. He had been playing since the age of about four in Tonyrefail, in the mining heartland of South Wales; watching the Varsity match on TV sparked interest in Cambridge. When he announced this ambition, his Headmaster said, “You can’t; we don’t know how, and no pupil has ever gone to Cambridge from here.” But the Maths master coached him personally in the two separate Maths A-levels needed, which were not part of the school syllabus and his parents gave him huge support.
“I worked very hard to get to Churchill,” says Lock. “I am determined to help ensure that bright youngsters today receive every encouragement to enjoy a wonderful place to be further educated and develop their potential.”
He settled in quickly. The first fellow student he met on the steps of the College on day one turned out to be a public schoolboy with a Welsh mother, a Dansette record player and every Elvis Presley LP ever made. Doctor Tom Hollway is still his closest friend. A few days later he played in the first XV at the Fresher’s rugby trials, got picked to play for the LX club and was in the university rugby ‘system’. Two terms of rugby and the Easter term playing cricket made for an idyllic, if un-academic, existence.
“I was not what academics really appreciated. Indeed at the end of my first term my Director of Studies” (who would go on to win a Nobel prize) “very gently suggested we were not compatible. He was dead right! But the stock-in-trade Churchill and Cambridge gave me has been extraordinary. The people I met, friendships I made, and having my eyes opened to different nationalities was a wonderful experience. And the College is even more diverse now.
At the end of three years I got lucky. First, the College refused to allow me to stay on for another year so I could try to play against Oxford and finally get a Blue. Second, I got interviewed by IBM. After getting almost all the questions right in their very tricky aptitude test I confessed I had seen them all before in my year of Experimental Psychology.” The IBM interviewers were reluctant to believe him and offered him a job.”
There followed two years of intensive training. “Nothing could be as competitive as IBM in the early 70s. It was the dawn of the electronic age of data processing and IBM would not be beaten by the competition.” By 25 he was helping CEOs understand how to use computers for competitive advantage (and buying them from IBM). He ended up as Global General Manager, Industrial Sector, with customers in aerospace, automotive, chemicals, oil and gas — about 15% of IBM’s operations worldwide and $12 billion in revenue.
“I was responsible for dealing with more than a hundred nationalities; my three years at Churchill were a wonderful grounding for my 30-year career at IBM.“
Lock ‘retired’ in 2000. He is presently Chairman of Computacenter plc, one of Europe’s leading IT services companies with 14,000 employees and £3 billion in revenues, on the Board of UBM plc, a worldwide leader in exhibitions, and on the Development Board and a Benefactor Fellow of Churchill. He has been quietly giving money and advice to the College for the past sixteen years, including significant funds for the building of Cowan Court.
“I have been very lucky, because I have consistently enjoyed what I have done in business. I feel privileged and blessed. I feel an immense obligation, because the College and Cambridge changed my life. The three years of mingling with all those different people gave me the confidence to walk in to those IBM interviews and get the job.”
He hopes others will be encouraged to follow his example, giving as much as they can afford, to help the next generations make the most of their talents and opportunities.