Digital transformation specialist awarded Honorary Fellowship

Jonathan Whelan

Jonathan Whelan

13 July 2022

Author, acclaimed business transformation specialist and Fellow of the British Computer Society, Jonathan Whelan, has been conferred as Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University today (Wednesday 13 July 2022).

Jonathan Whelan undertook a Mathematics degree and Postgraduate Certificate of Education at Aberystwyth University. 

He has worked in the information technology industry for more than three decades, and is experienced in architecting business change and the formulation of strategy for global institutions, particularly in relation to digital transformation. 

He has authored seven books and had numerous articles published, principally focused on change and technology, and in particular the opportunities and issues that face business users of technology.

Jonathan Whelan was presented as Honorary Fellow by Dr Fred Long from the Department of Computer Science on Wednesday 13 July 2022.

The full conferral presentation is available below, in the language in which it was delivered.

Presentation of Jonathan Whelan by Dr Fred Long:

Dirpwy Ganghellor, Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion. Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Jonathan Whelan yn gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Pro Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, prospective graduates and supporters. It is an honour and a privilege to present Jonathan Whelan as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Jonathan received his undergraduate degree from the Department of Mathematics at Aberystwyth and so you may wonder why I am here from the Department of Computer Science to introduce him rather than a mathematician. It is because it is in the field of Computing that he has distinguished himself.

Jonathan was born in Tywyn and came to study Mathematics at Aberystwyth. After his degree, he stayed on in Aberystwyth to do teacher training, and then started teaching Mathematics at Penglais School just up the hill.

His change of career to computing came when he realised that one of his teaching colleagues would need to die for him to get promoted at Penglais, and he followed a very common path for Mathematicians at that time, taking a graduate job with NatWest Bank and being rapidly trained in Computing and its value to businesses.

Like many mathematicians, he had a natural affinity for it, and over the following 15 years he rose to a position of responsibility in the bank, and in 1996 concentrated his efforts on a very important issue known as the millennium bug – that many computers would hit problems in the year 2000 because of the limited way that dates were represented.  This problem has been played down by the media since then, because when the year 2000 happened, there were very few problems caused by this millennium bug, but that was because of the efforts of many professionals such as Jonathan.

In Jonathan’s case, he did not just make sure that NatWest’s computers were immune to the millennium bug, but he also acted on his concern for smaller companies without the resources of NatWest, producing an influential book to guide those smaller companies to avoid the problems the millennium bug was going to cause. The book was recommended by the UK Government as a guide to addressing the millennium bug.

Since then, Jonathan has held influential positions in several very large enterprises, including Network Rail, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

His area of expertise has been business architecture – not just the technical side of computing, but how you arrange a business most effectively, employing technology to facilitate your business goals.

He has distinguished himself in that area, both in the direct effect he has had in large companies, and as an author. His writing career has been underpinned by his passion to help individuals and organisations to better understand, use and exploit technology.  He has authored seven books and written articles for local and national newspapers, professional, trade and retail publications, nationally and internationally, focused on change and technology, and in particular the opportunities and issues that face business users of technology.

All this means that the recognition he is receiving here is both appropriate and well earned.

Dirpwy Ganghellor, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Jonathan Whelani chi yn Gymrawd. 

Pro Chancellor, it is my absolute pleasure to present Jonathan Whelan to you as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Aberystwyth University Honours 2022

During Graduation 2022, the University will present ten Honorary Fellowships to individuals who have or have had a connection with Aberystwyth or Wales, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field. 

This year’s Fellows include leading figures from the arts, broadcasting, law, agriculture, and the science and technology sectors.

The 2022 Honorary Fellows are (in order of presentation):

  • Professor Dame Elan Closs Stephens DBE, Electoral Commissioner for Wales and Non-Executive Director of the BBC Board and its member for Wales
  • Myrddin ap Dafydd, author, publisher and Archdruid of Wales
  • The Hon Justice Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, Court of Appeal Judge, Malaysia
  • Harry Venning, award winning cartoonist, illustrator and comedy writer
  • Dr Zoe Laughlin, co-founder and director of the Institute of Making
  • Rhuanedd Richards, BBC Wales' National Director
  • Jonathan Whelan, IT consultant, author and Fellow of the British Computer Society
  • Tom Jones OBE, agriculturalist and founding Chair of the Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust
  • His Honour Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, former Senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court, “the Old Bailey”
  • Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, former Director and Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council


Yr Athro Tim Woods (Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor), Jonathan Whelan, yr Athro y Fonesig Elan Closs Stephens DBE (Ddirprwy Ganghellor)