Mike Wright

Mike Wright, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School and world-renowned academic, has died following a short illness.

A respected scholar, Mike was the Director of the Centre for Management Buy-Out Research. The first centre devoted to the study of private equity and buyouts, it was founded in 1986 at the Nottingham University Business School before moving to Imperial College Business School with Mike when he joined in 2011.

He was one of the School’s most prominent academics and received no shortage of recognition for his professional success, including coveted honours such as being made a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Strategic Management Society.

Mike joined Imperial College Business School as Professor of Entrepreneurship before becoming Head of the Department for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Previously he was Professor of Financial Studies at Nottingham University Business School.

"Mike was supportive to his academics and professional staff throughout his time at the Business School despite being one of our research superstars."Jo DemetrisHR Partner, Business School

He was known for publishing at an exceptionally high rate, writing over 40 books and publishing more than 300 papers in academic and professional journals on topics including management buyouts, venture capital, habitual entrepreneurs and academic entrepreneurs. It should come as no surprise then that Mike was ranked first in the world for publications in academic entrepreneurship.

He served two terms as an editor of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, was a joint editor of the Journal of Management Studies, editor elect of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, and editor of the Academy of Management Perspective.

In addition to his respected position at Imperial College Business School, he held an honorary doctorate from the University of Ghent, was a visiting professor at ETH Zurich and INSEAD, and a member of the BVCA Advisory Board, providing guidance and advice to the private equity industry.

He combined these formidable achievements in the world of academia with warmth, humour and kindness, as well as a variety of passions that extended beyond the world of business and private equity.

These included a well-known enthusiasm for the music of Bob Dylan, as well as bird watching, gardening and reading.

He also had a passion for France and all things French, as well as for cycling, and on his 60th birthday he combined the two, travelling 600km from Central France to the Pyrenees on his bike.

Born in 1952 in Stockport, he grew up in Derbyshire, a county which he was devoted to throughout his life – particularly the Peak District where he enjoyed walking.

He always had ongoing projects, both for work and for pleasure. He loved family life and since his grandson was born in 2016, he delighted in finding new activities to entertain him.

Mike died peacefully on 25 November 2019, at home with his wife and family.

Tributes paid to Mike by his colleagues at Imperial College Business School

Francisco Veloso, Dean of Imperial College Business School

Mike was a leading international academic and a pillar of the School for many years. We are deeply grateful for his outstanding contribution as a faculty member and a colleague. We will also remember and very much miss his kindness, wisdom and humour.

Markus Perkmann, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Mike Wright was one of the most influential entrepreneurship scholars of our time. He shaped important debates in the field with both his research contributions and his editorial work. Over the years, he was also a mentor to a large number of junior scholars who benefited from his intellectual breadth and academic experience. At Imperial, he was highly regarded as the Head of the Department of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and for being an extraordinarily productive academic who always impressed with his humility and work ethic. His achievements were recognised with numerous awards, and most notably his nomination to Fellow of the British Academy.

Rod Ball, Deputy Director Centre for Management Buy-out Research (CMBOR)

I was always surprised by Mike’s energy and drive in both his own academic quests and those of CMBOR. I still remember my first business meeting with him in London, as we reached King’s Cross I was still trying to get my footing on the escalator, wondering where he was, only to see him powering his way past people already halfway up towards the top. Mike started CMBOR as a young academic when private equity was in its infancy and little understood. He often cited the story of how, when he had first voiced his idea of researching private equity, fellow academics had warned him there would be no interest as the market was far too small. By 2007, a record of over €180 billion had been invested in European private equity and his enthusiasm had been fully vindicated.

Karen Tweddle, Assistant Director Education Quality

I worked alongside Mike for eight years during his time at Imperial College Business School. He was a quiet, warm and friendly man and I enjoyed spending time with him. He was a prolific publisher, which made my job, logging his publications, a time-consuming one but extremely rewarding from a rankings/accreditations point of view. He had no ego despite his success, and he will be much missed.

Jo Demetris, HR Partner

Mike was a truly lovely colleague to work with and I will miss him. Mike was supportive to his academics and professional staff throughout his time at the Business School despite being one of our research superstars. His naturally friendly nature made working together fun with discussions around walking in the Peaks and the newfound fun in trying to work on research whilst looking after his grandson.

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