The Financial Times MBA Challenge is an opportunity for the next generation of business leaders to make a difference. This year, teams of Business School students are working with the charity, Stop the Traffik, to help them deliver a strategy to tackle the issue.

The challenge is comprised of two stages: In stage one, registered teams submit a short proposal of their recommendations. In stage two, shortlisted teams are partnered with a mentor and asked to create a 12-page business plan based on their proposal.

Cass Modular Executive MBA students, Clair Rees and Melissa Ridley, are taking part in this year’s challenge as part of Team Bilkisu. The team have just been put through to the final round of the challenge and are tasked with turning their initial idea into a detailed business strategy. A panel of judges will assess all team entries in September.


Members of Team Bilkisu, Melissa Ridley and Clair Rees, Modular Executive MBA 2016

What does human trafficking really mean for organisations of today?

21 million people are currently trapped in forced labour and 14.2 million of those are within the private economy. These numbers represent the true and hard hitting facts of human trafficking within modern society’

The Modern Slavery Act stipulates that all organisations which supply goods and services and have a minimum £36 million turnover per year must prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. If an organisation chooses not to review its supply chain operations correctly and evidence of trafficking is found, it could potentially lead to loss of business or cancellations of contracts as well as loss of export licences and access to international markets.

How are Team Bilkisu going to help?

Both Clair and Melissa are using the knowledge they’ve obtained from the MBA to assist Stop the Traffik with creating a strategy to encourage businesses to promote an app that allow users to report incidents of human trafficking. This in turn, will help the charity collect data on the issue at a grassroots level.

Having both recently completed the majority of their first-year module projects, Clair and Melissa are utilising various skills they’ve picked up both inside and outside of the classroom to develop the strategy these include, time management, project management, leading teams, idea generation and problem solving. With Clair in the role of project lead, the team is fully dedicated to creating a winning business plan for the charity.

Melissa says ‘because we are working with a global team there has of course been challenges along the way with time zones and finding a suitable time when we can all get together and discuss our ideas. However, with a flexible team and lots of technology we have clearly managed to overcome these and having our idea make the final round is a great success to the team.

The skills we have learnt from the MBA so far have definitely come into play during this project.  During our MBA we are assigned groups  and with many of our classmates residing outside of the UK, we’re often made to work across time zones and cultures so these challenges are something that we face every day.

Whilst managing the commitments of work, the MBA and this project, time management has been key to keeping us on track as well as plenty of organisation such as project agendas, time agendas and delegation of tasks, but I am pleased to say the team has worked cohesively and shown dedication throughout.

I am confident in saying that all the knowledge we have learnt from the Modular Executive MBA has most certainly assisted us in getting us through to this stage of the challenge’.

You can find out more about the Cass MBA at and the FT challenge by visiting