Sir Harpal Kumar
Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation EMEA

Former CEO, Cancer Research UK


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Sir Harpal Kumar (Class of  1982)

Sir Harpal Kumar, former Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK and now Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation EMEA, believes his life-path was shaped by his Latymer education.

Harpal  has had an extraordinary career to date, following his degree in Chemical Engineering at Cambridge University. Roles at McKinsey management consultants, the Papworth Trust and Nexan helped lead him to the high profile position as Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK and Head of Innovation EMEA at Johnson & Johnson. Whilst the Cancer Research is one of the most successful in the UK, with an annual income of over £600 million a year, it is the medical research undertaken by the organisation that attracted Harpal to the job. In June 2018 Harpal took on a new challenge of becoming Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation EMEA.

As he points out in an interview for his school’s Annual Review, Harpal’s life-path was shaped by his Latymer education;

"I can categorically say that if I had not gone to Latymer, I would not have gone to Cambridge and if I hadn’t gone to Cambridge, I wouldn’t have gone to Harvard… and so on. Each experience builds upon the last and I couldn’t be more grateful that the whole thing began at Latymer.” 

As the first in his family to attend university, Harpal is acutely aware of the life-changing effect a good education has on a child’s prospects - a view  that is shared with Latymer and is at the heart of the School’s bursary programme.

Remembering his early impressions of Latymer, Harpal says;

“I was struck by how important it was to teachers that this was a school that embraced people from different backgrounds and that they wanted them all to succeed. There is, and always has been, a strong social conscience at Latymer and I think that has certainly stayed with me.”