Month: November 2018

Embracing priceless opportunities at Cass

I am a MSc International Accounting and Finance student at Cass Business School and I’ll admit when I arrived to London, I was scared. I didn’t know anyone and I was plagued by nervous thoughts: ‘Will I find it hard to make new friends? Will this year help me understand what I would like to do in my future career?’

These are only some of the questions I had before starting my course.

A new beginning

Since the beginning of the course, I have found the answers to most of these questions. I’m not saying that everything has always been easy and straightforward, but every day I feel stronger, more confident, more integrated and, more importantly, I feel that I am continuously learning new and exciting things!

Community support

I found a friendly and inclusive environment where teachers are always willing to help. The small number of students on my course enables each one of us to have direct, one-to-one contact with them. Apart from the high-quality of the courses and lecturers, what makes me enthusiastic about studying at Cass is the amount of activities and opportunities it offers. The careers centre is constantly helping us out: from developing our CVs, to preparing us for interviews. Personally, since I don’t have any work experience, I didn’t even know where to start to look for a job. But after participating in career’s workshops and having had a couple of appointments with the careers team, I am much more aware of what I want to do after this Masters. I started actively looking for a job thanks to the advice I received. I also joined an extracurricular course, ‘Coding for Girls’. I always wanted to learn programming but I had never had the opportunity. Besides having fun, I am also learning some useful things that I might need in the future.

A priceless opportunity

Being at Cass has given me a priceless opportunity to meet people from literally all over the world. This means I have made many friends who speak many languages. Every day I discover something that I didn’t know before: I learn new words, try new food, listen to different music, visit new places, and every day I can see the world with new eyes. And in the last few weeks, I’ve also enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere that fills every street of this magical city!

Daphne Mazzocco
MSc International Accounting and Finance (2019)

A spark of entrepreneurship at Cass

I got to Cass early on the first night of CityStarters, a three-day event for students across Cass and City, University of London. I watched the energy build up as student arrived for the entrepreneurship competition – the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to experts for cash prizes.

The weekend kicked off with a motivational speech by last year’s winners – Lonbrella, London’s first umbrella rental company. The team shared tips, preparing us for the scrutiny we might face while building a business. We were encouraged to network, reassured that feelings of uncertainty were to be expected and pre-warned that not everyone would like our ideas, but to remain determined.

We watched 35 brave students from first-year undergraduates to Full-time MBAs pitch their ideas in under a minute. By the end of the evening, only 15 of the 35 people were chosen to develop their ideas over the weekend.

Students who didn’t pitch or whose ideas weren’t chosen, had to approach the newly designated CEOs to explain why they would make an excellent addition to the team. I pitched to Andrew, CEO of FreeCaffe – a coffee shop that gathers market research in exchange for free coffee.

After a couple of drinks together, we were sent home to rest before the next two days of intense work!

Refining our business ideas

The second day kicked off with a speech from Christina Richardson, CEO of Nurture, who reinforced that “customers are king”. Emma Obanye, CEO of Mindful Team spoke about some of the lessons she learned on her journey including the importance of short feedback cycles to refine a business idea. We were introduced to mentors and student ambassadors, ranging from intrapreneurs to writers, each with a unique set of expertise that they would share with the budding entrepreneurs over the next couple of days.

We spent the rest of the day developing our business ideas and as the day started to draw to an end, things got a bit heated – specifically for our group. Our idea had changed five times from the original pitch, and we couldn’t agree how to move forward!

Despite our ups and downs, eventually all five members of my team came to an agreement, reinforcing a lesson spoken by all three speakers – uncertainty is an unavoidable part of the process.

Results day

Day three rolled around and we really started to feel the pressure.  Before we got started, we heard from Nina Ricafort, the marketing manager at Thread. She shared useful advice on how to implement marketing techniques on a big budget or a shoestring budget. This would soon become applicable knowledge for the three winning teams who would be awarded prizes for first (£2,000), second (£1,000) and third (£500) place to bring their idea to the next stage.

To build our confidence in presenting, Dr Ruben van Werven, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, taught us how to craft the perfect pitch to wow investors and communication coach, Emma Zangs, taught us how to activate our confidence in an interactive session. We started to relax as we realised that regardless of what happened, we would take away many important lessons from the weekend.

Finally, it was time for the pitches. We all gathered in the big auditorium and were joined by three judges. Each group was given four minutes to pitch their idea and one minute to answer the judges’ questions.

The order of presentations was picked out of a hat and my team (Free Caffe) was chosen to go first. We had been practising for hours and it wasn’t mine or Andrew’s first time presenting in front of an audience; so the pitch went really smoothly!

Once all 15 teams presented, the three judges left to deliberate and write the cheques. Once again, the room was buzzing with the excitement of the new friendships we had made, the skills we had cultivated, and the special weekend we had shared.

The judges returned to announce the winners – in first place, Shellpod – a company developing environmentally friendly solid shampoo, followed by Facilitrip and then my team – Free Caffe!

My Team, Free Caffe, with our third place prize!

I am certain this is not the end of the road for many teams and they will go on to create successful businesses in the future.

And I know this is not the end of our journeys as entrepreneurs. Everyone I spoke to said this little taste of entrepreneurship has sparked something inside them that they are excited to continue to explore – perhaps at CitySpark in November!

Tessa Etkin-Silver
MSc Entrepreneurship (2019)

An exciting evening at Cass with Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of Lloyds of London

 

On the 24th of October,  Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of the world’s specialist insurance market, Lloyds of London, was the special guest for this autumn’s much anticipated Fireside Chat, hosted by the Global Women’s Leadership Programme.

One of the most powerful women in London, Beale was invited for an intimate conversation about her successes, but more importantly, the hardships that she has faced and how that has empowered her to be one of the greatest female leaders of this decade.

Lessons in leadership

Beale’s words of encouragement related to topics regarding getting comfortable with discomfort, safety in diversity, and collaboration being the essence of leadership.

Her words of wisdom have inspired me to stop fearing the unknown as that is the only thing that stops us from discovering our true potential. Today, I am a member of the Cass FinTech Society. Although it is far from being a field I am familiar with, I am embracing it as a new challenge and exercise that will help me gain further knowledge on some of the most relevant topics in the 21st century.

PIE,  an acronym presented by Beale, stands for performance, image and exposure.  We learnt these three key components are key to a successful career and we should aim to deliver quality work daily, work on being perceived positively, and expand our networks as much as we possibly can.

As we all stood up to leave, everyone turned to each other with a smile that defined how inspired we all felt.

I was very impressed by the turnout. Ladies, your presence was expected as this day was a chance for us to embrace and to celebrate girl power. Gentlemen, your presence was admirable, your support to your female colleagues, students and friends gives us the energy to progress.

Opportunities for Cass women

As a Global Women’s Leadership Scholar, this event was only a teaser for what I know will be yet to come for this upcoming school year. Being a Cass student and an ambassador of this programme makes me want to set my goals higher than ever before. This opportunity has boosted my confident in my ability to become a leader of my generation, and with this programme, I can expose myself to a large network of people that will allow me to pursue the changes I hope to see in the world someday.

This is a rare opportunity that most people cannot obtain throughout their time at school, but Cass makes it a priority to bring these exact opportunities to its students, why not make the most out of it?

The Global Women’s Leadership Programme aims to exercise your mind and help you flourish into the leader you’ve always wanted to become. I am proud to be involved in such an initiative and we are thrilled to continue foster ambition throughout the upcoming events we will be hosting this year.

Khadija Cherif
MSc Marketing, Strategy and Innovation (2019)

 

Join the Cass Global Women’s Network to stay tuned on our upcoming events! 

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