XCity 2015

XCityIf you are a PG Journalism alumnus, it’s that time of year when we ask for your help reviewing and updating the details we currently hold for you. As you know, XCity Magazine is City University London journalism department’s flagship publication. Each edition includes a bumper directory of over 4,500 alumni and their career history since graduating from the University. Putting in all of the updates is a tough job carried out by a dedicated team of current Magazine MA students.

The deadline for submitting your details is Monday 2 February 2015. If we do not hear from you by this date, we will assume all of your details are correct.

For more information and to update your details, please visit our website. Thanks!


MSc Real Estate 2011 alumnus receives Highly Commended Award

DIGI Konstantinos Papacharalampos 8514

Kostas Papacharalampos MRICS received the award in Planning and Development at the RICS Matrics Young Surveyor of the Year Awards 2014.

Kostas says, “I had the pleasure of having fantastic professors while at Cass, and great support from everyone in the Cass Masters and Careers teams.”

My year at Cass was my first step into property development and the UK’s business world, relocating to London from Greece in mid-2010. I am very grateful and am a proud Cass alumnus.’

Congratulations Kostas!

City alumna celebrated for debut novel

She RisesCity University London Creative Writing alumna Kate Worsley has been awarded a 2014 Historical Writers Association (HWA) Award.

From a total 21 entries, Kate was chosen to receive the HWA Debut Crown for her first novel She Rises, a tale of dangerous adventure in an 18th century warship.

The awards were announced at the Harrogate History Festival where all five shortlisted authors took part in the festival’s New Blood discussion panel.

Judges awarded the £2,000 prize to the novel they believed to be the best debut historical novel published in the UK this year.

This year’s judging panel comprised founding HWA committee members and leading novelists, publishers and journalists.

Kate studied for an MA in Creative Writing (Novels) at City where she was mentored by acclaimed historical novelist Sarah Waters.

She Rises was the first novel-shaped idea I’d ever had. I enrolled on City’s two-year part-time MA in 2008 as a way of making sure I wrote it and wrote it well.” said Kate. “I had already written a good chunk before applying for a place but put this to one side for the first year to concentrate on learning the craft of modern novel writing from scratch.

“Course director Jonathan Myerson set me on the right track and persuaded Sarah Waters to mentor me for the second year (the first time she had taken on the role of outside tutor). Her insistence on always putting the reader’s needs first, along with much intelligent feedback from Jonathan and my fellow students, meant that nine months after graduation, I was able to send a satisfactory final draft out to agents who had shown interest at our graduate showcase.”

Manda Scott, Chair of the HWA Committee and competition judge, said “Kate’s novel She Rises stood out for the exceptional power of the voices used in an intricate, carefully balanced dual narrative. Her plotting was original and her use of language was both imaginative and fitting for the time and place. In all respects, it was a magnificent novel to have written at any stage of a writing life, to have written it as a debut novel was genuinely exceptional. Given our remit to sustain and promote historical writing in all its forms, and given the aims of the prize to highlight the best in new historical writing, She Rises was a novel that all the judges could support.”

She Rises has also been shortlisted for a number of other awards, including a Lambda Literary Award in the US.

Alumna Ayesha Mustafa (MA Transnational Media and Society 2007) listed in the BBC’s 100 Women of 2014

logoThe Founder & Director of www.fashioncompassion.co.uk, an online fashion retail site, Ayesha partners socially responsible brands from all over the world, working closely with their founders to create new and exciting products. These products have received acclaim from numerous leading fashion publications, including British Vogue.

Congratulations Ayesha!

Q and A with Clifford Thompson – MA in Creative Writing alumnus discusses prestigious summer scholarship

Norman_mailerThe Norman Mailer Centre awards scholarships to promising writers to continue the literary legacy of the twice Pulitzer Prize winner, Norman Mailer. Following Mailer’s death in 2007, the Centre was set up by Mailer’s long-term friend and collaborator Larry Schiller, in order to foster the talent of a new generation of writers. It’s supported by Mailer’s family and fellow writers, including Salman Rushdie and GQ Magazine.

As part of his scholarship Clifford spent three weeks in the US and wasinvited to attend the Centre’s On the Road programme held at the University of Utah; a workshop for promising writers. More than twenty writers were invited to participate, with places awarded for fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Previously Clifford worked as a firefighter before becoming a staff journalist at the BBC where he has worked for twenty years. He has a BA (Hons) in Humanities from Birkbeck, University of London and City’s MA in Narrative Non-Fiction, from which he graduated in 2012 with a distinction. We caught up with him to ask him about his experiences on the prestigious programme.

What is the Norman Mailer Centre?

The Norman Mailer Centre and Writer’s Colony is an educational non-profit organisation that aims to foster the values of Mailer’s work in new generations of writers.

Alongside awarding scholarships, the Centre offers creative writing workshops, student and teacher writing awards and retreats, as well as educational, monetary and professional support for writers commencing their career.

Why was Utah chosen as the location of the workshop programme?

Salt Lake City, Utah, was where Mailer researched and interviewed those connected to the murder of two young Mormon men by Gary Gilmore in 1976. The result of his interviews was the famous Pulitzer Prize winning book The Executioner’s Song which was published in 1979. The programme has been running since shortly after Mailer’s death, but went ‘on the road’ for the first time in 2013 with workshops held at the Mailer family apartment in Brooklyn Heights, New York where Mailer lived and wrote for forty years.

The Centre plans to host each of its annual programmes in locations that feature in Mailer’s books – in 2015 the programme will visit Florida – the setting for Miami and the Siege of Chicago. 

How was your experience of the programme? 

It really was an amazing opportunity to learn and develop as a writer. Not only did we gain from intensive group work, but our mentors were some of America’s most notable novelists and poets. I was tutored by Bev Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys, but also had the chance to meet the poet and biographer of Miles Davies, Quincy Troupe.

We also got to spend a lot of time with the Centre’s founder Larry Schiller. Schiller worked closely with Mailer – he did all the interviews and negotiated the contracts for the interviewees for the book and film version of The Executioner’s Song. Larry was with us throughout our time in Salt Lake City. He was a constant source of inspiration and shared many of his tales about working with Mailer. We also had opportunities to tour Salt Lake City and attend historic programmes, including the public screening of The Executioner’s Song at Salt Lake City Library.

The most interesting part was that there were many local people there who remember the murders and whose lives were so dramatically changed by them. At the screening we had a Q&A session with Schiller, Bob Moody, one of Gilmore’s legal team and two of the journalists who were first to report on the murders, including Tamara Smith (who at the time was a cub reporter on the Desert News).

What did you work on while you were in the US?

There were some taught classes where we were given a subject to write about and we developed the tale in our own time, providing feedback for each other in our group the next day. Donofrio was brilliant – she suggested several ways of thinking differently about approaching and writing non-fiction subjects both in terms of characters and stories.
I also spent some time reviewing and editing the book I wrote for my MA and I started writing a new book – a historical narrative non-fiction book about Eyre Massey Shaw, the Victorian founding father of ‘modern’ firefighting and his relationship with Bertie – The Prince of Wales (latterly Edward VII).

Information about the 2015 workshop and applications will be released from February 2015 onwards. I can highly recommend applying – it was a truly wonderful, immersive and inspiring experience.

Visit www.nmcenter.org for more information.

Say hello to Schooner!

Whilst studying for his Executive MBA at City, Ali Saribas decided he wanted to start a business, but never imagined it would be in the periphery of the fashion world.

Schooner Packageforweb








Ali, and his business partner Kemal, thought that they would start a business in tech, designing a new App; “My friend and I were heavily debating what the next best idea would be, which always ended up with us trying to design a new mobile application. We eventually realised that there was no point in trying to build something that we had no real passion for. My friend called me to meet-up for drinks as he had found the next big idea…. a plain white t-shirt.”

Schooner t-shirt

Schooner t-shirt

But this is no ordinary t-shirt. Schooner is focussed on delivering ethically and environmentally-friendly wardrobe basics. “We are trying to increase the value propositions to customers that we think matter the most. We have made it our mission to keep the retail price at minimum to showcase that something that has been produced ethically and environmentally-friendly can not only be of high quality but also not at astronomic prices.”

And boy have they managed it! The 100% organic cotton t-shirts feel luxuriously soft. The premium cotton is sourced from Turkey, chosen because it is part of the Better Cotton initiative, which improves the production of cotton and is better for the environment it grows in as well as the people who produce it. If that’s not ethical enough, Schooner donates 20% of each sale to the charity War Child, and provide a certificate with each t-shirt letting the buyers know who their donation will help, along with stories of kids in the refugee camps. “We wanted to help today to ensure a better tomorrow for the most vulnerable children whose families, communities and schools have been torn apart by war.”

If you’re not already reaching for your credit card and ordering your Schooner t-shirt, then this will be the deal breaker; “The t-shirts retail for £11, which is competitively priced against the high-street. It comes in a fully recyclable package with a piece of soap to make sure that the t-shirt smells nice when you open it.”

To find out more about student entrepreneurship at City, please visit City Starters.


Cass Supply Chain/Operations Management Professionals Meeting – 27 November 2014

Cass Supply Chain Society is delighted to invite you to the first Cass Supply Chain/Operations Management Professionals Meeting on 27 November 2014.

The purpose of the event is to provide a networking opportunity for current MSc Global Supply Chain Management students and alumni working in supply chain industry.

Time: 18.00

Location: Cass Business School, 106 Bunhill Row, EC1Y 8TZ, London

Participants: Current Cass MSc Global Supply Chain Management students and Cass alumni working in supply chain industry.

We would love you to share your professional experience with our students, therefore we hope that you will get in touch if you are happy to share your knowledge about the supply chain industry, its challenges and day to day operations.   

17.50 Registration

18.00 Welcome speech from Dr Sinéad Roden, Senior Lecturer in Operations & Supply Management and Co-Director of MSc in Global Supply Chain Management and Byung-Gak, Senior Lecturer, Supply Chain Management

18.10 Promotional video about MSc Global Supply Chain Management programme

18.15 Discussion with alumni working in the Supply Chain industry.

18.50 Networking session and refreshments

Please RSVP by 17th November 2014 to Brian Choong (Brian.Choong@cass.city.ac.uk).

We look forward to seeing you at the event.

With best wishes,

Christian Read-Nilsson
Managing Director
Cass Supply Chain Society

Alumnus Profile – Keith Armstrong (PhD Adhesion Science and Technology, 1991)


Keith in a Piper Tomahawk aircraft, 1990

Keith Armstrong, who is now 83, graduated twice from City’s Chemistry Department. In 1978, at the age of 47, he was awarded an MSc in Adhesion Science and in 1991 a PhD in Adhesion Science and Technology. His professional experience and long years in the aircraft industry allowed him to write his book: Care and Repair of Advanced Composites. The book offers an in-depth look at the principal materials and processes involved in manufacturing, inspecting and repairing advanced composite aircraft structures as well as structures in the automotive, marine, railway, sporting goods and wind power generation industries. The book has sold nearly 3,000 copies.

A long career in the aircraft industry

His career within the aircraft industry started at a very early age. Keith made model aeroplanes till he left school and then became an apprentice at Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd, Weybridge, a British aircraft engineering conglomerate that produced a whole suite of military products. He also served for three years as a Technical Officer in the RAF, from 1955, in lieu of National Service where he operated Vickers Valiants our first “V” Bombers.

British Airways (BA) employed him in 1967 as Development Engineer in the Structures Group, a job that offered him the opportunity to research, study and develop composite materials including light weight carbon-fibre which has been used for commercial aviation ever since.

Keith also obtained a private pilot’s licence that he used for his job as part of the BA Flying Club and took him to places like Hamburg and France. He logged 420 hours in his log book and piloted about 500 landings.

BA allowed Keith to study at City University London one day a week. He was later invited to submit a Thesis for a PhD on research work he did at BA on adhesives for aircraft repairs. On retirement from BA as a Principal Development Engineer he designed composite repairs for Monarch Airlines at Luton and also delivered a training course for personnel there and for other companies.

Writing a book to collect his work experience

Keith decided to write his book: Care and Repair of Advanced Composites while he was retiring and working part-time. The book was written with training purposes in mind according to Armstrong. “My degrees from City were very helpful in getting lecturing work after I retired from BA.” he says.

Keith’s book is a worldwide reference for repair technicians and design engineers in both aerospace and non-aerospace industries. Chapters include: Introduction to composites and care of composite parts, materials, handling and storage, manufacturing techniques, original design criteria, safety and environment, repair techniques and many other relevant areas of expertise.

Finally, on a more personal basis, Keith was involved with the BA Christian Fellowship for 24 years and has been involved in Methodist Churches all his life. He also enjoys family history, which he finds very interesting.

In conversation with Leo Castellanos, Cass alumnus and Co-founder of Comparabien.com


Cass Business School was the perfect location to meet Leonardo Castellanos, Executive MBA alumnus who graduated in 2009. He told us about his entrepreneurial journey and business plans.

Leonardo, who is originally from Venezuela, arrived in the UK back in 2002. He was already working for Price Waterhouse Coopers, a big consultancy firm. In 2007 he decided to start his MBA at Cass Business School because he was really keen on making a change in his career. He said “Half way through the MBA I decided that I had enough of consulting for big firms. I have been doing it for nine years and, you know, I had a good career, it was a great school. I really thought that at the end of the day what I achieved, could have been achieved by someone else, it was just another project. That’s why I decided that I really wanted to go and head into entrepreneurship and venture capital, and started working within that space.”

How was the experience of working and studying at the same time?

“It’s a challenge, it was a part-time MBA and it’s obviously a huge commitment to have a full-time job and do well in your studies. There is course work, exams and your family. Your social life suffers quite a lot, but in the end is a commitment that you know that you’re making and it’s for a certain period of time, and so you just have to go through with it.”

Comparabien.com and Leonardo’s role during its development.

A few months after Castellanos finished the MBA, he co-founded his start-up called Comparabien.com, a price comparison website. He and his partner Alfredo Ramirez, also a Cass alumnus and originally from Peru, followed a successful model in the UK and developed it for the Latin American (LATAM) region.

“We agreed to the fact that Latin America had a huge potential and we wanted to tap into that. Obviously it was a personal project and, you know, we both had bills to pay, in my case, I had a student debt to repay as well, so we couldn’t just forget about all of it and follow that route. We had to keep our jobs while working on the idea” he said. After a few hard-working months they finally launched in Peru in 2010.

Leonardo’s role has always been developing the business and, most importantly, finding investment to keep it growing. He says “Alfredo’s skills and mine were complementary. His background is in technology so he was in charge of developing the websites, and mine were in accounting and finances so I took charge of the business and money raising strategy. In 2012 we started working on an expansion model and by March 2013 we raised a small round of over half a million dollars” This big achievement allowed them to expand their business to four new countries including Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

What’s the future of comparison sites?

Castellanos knows that competition is inevitable, but according to him Comparabien.com has the biggest foothold in Latin America and will lead in the years to come. “We have two competitors we worry about. They are in two or three countries where we have presence in, but we certainly believe that, like in the UK, there will be room for four or five big companies aggregating for national products and we want to be really leading that pack” he said.

What are your business expansion plans?

“We will certainly be looking, not in the next 12 months, but in the next 24 to launch in specific regions within LATAM. That may include the Hispanic states of the US. We are seriously considering launching in places like Florida, California, New Mexico and Texas. There is also the idea of launching in my own country, Venezuela, which we are not doing due to the lack of clarity to do business, but we believe that that would be a good market to be working in. There are other smaller countries that are also presenting a good opportunity, but it’s a matter of focus. We really want to consolidate in the countries we already are. Doing what we are doing well and then go beyond that.”

What are the “must have” qualities of an entrepreneur?

Leo-Castellanos-at-Cass“Being an entrepreneur is about working with people, in my view. You have to try to be good at many things, but not try to excel at everything because it is impossible. I think that recognising things that you don’t have and assigning it to others and being resilient is very important. Sometimes, you have to be quite stubborn and always follow what you think is a good opportunity. Also, make sure that you bring people together and create a vision that they will follow.”

We finished our conversation talking about the Cass Entrepreneurs Network (CEN) and the very important role it plays at facilitating a forum where entrepreneurs can meet investors and connect with potential partners.

Leonardo said: “I think the next step for CEN is to facilitate the connexion between Cass alumni and Cass students that are passionate about entrepreneurship and also to provide a little more support. I think that it’s important to drive that community spirit and I am very sure that people like me, and another people that have been to Cass are happy to contribute to that.”

Find out more about Leonardo’s business: Comparabien.com

Journalism alumna Iona Craig wins prestigious award



Iona Craig, BA Journalism 2010, is an independent journalist based in Sana’a, Yemen where she has been working as the Times Yemen correspondent since 2010. She has recently won the Frontline Club 2014 award, Print category, for her work in the region. The Frontline Club Awards seek to recognise new emerging talents and established names who have shown integrity, courage and independent spirit in their work.

Meet Iona

Iona used to work in the horse racing industry, riding and training racehorses in the UK, Australia and Ireland.  After thirteen years she left the world of jumping and racing behind her to return to the UK where she studied her degree at City in addition to studying Arabic for two years part-time.

According to her blog, since her graduation Iona has worked for: BBC Newsnight (in 2008), the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (2010), GCap Media (now Global Radio 2007-2008), Bloomberg News (2010) and gained valuable experience with the Sunday Times after winning the Tom Walker Trust Award in 2009.

In October 2010 she moved to Sana’a, Yemen and worked as an editor and then managing editor for The Yemen Times. Due to growing demand as Yemen’s revolution began she left the Yemen Times in February 2011 to concentrate on freelance work.

Iona’s work in Yemen

Craig has covered America’s covert war in Yemen for four years. Her investigation into a US drone attack that left 12 civilians dead, took her to travel undercover to the strike site six days after the bombing of a wedding convoy in remote central Yemen.

The Frontline Club describes her work:

“A story that it takes courage and careful preparation to report given the danger of kidnapping in Yemen. But it is important that people on the ground verify who is being hit by drones – otherwise the story is left to propagandists.

Iona Craig has done this convincingly in the sort of story that only a reporter who knows a country well can do.”

Iona has been back as a guest lecturer at City University London, spoken at the British Yemeni Society and Chatham House. She has also carried out workshops and training for journalists in both Yemen and the UK.

Learn more about Iona’s work.