Month: May 2019

Exploring the Parisian startup scene

My experience exploring the entrepreneurial ecosystem field trip so far has been largely a British one. To date, I have experience working in multiple accelerators in RocketSpace, a tech-focused startup accelerator, and Founder’s factory, a multisector accelerator. I have worked in business development as well as in product design. I was incredibly excited to discover different startup ecosystems abroad, so when I heard about the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Study Tour in Paris, it seemed like a great opportunity to learn more!

The British Embassy in Paris

During the trip, we visited a range of different organisations. Most notably, we visited the British Embassy and Station F, the largest accelerator hub I’ve ever seen and even Vivatech, Europe’s largest tech conference. It was great to understand the nature of entrepreneurship in France from these different angles. I didn’t know France was such a leader in tech, deep AI and innovation!

 

The highlight of the trip was definitely attending Vivatech. At this conference, I managed to see a wealth of different tech innovations ranging from young startups in robotics to new AI coming from Google and Facebook. I even managed to see French President Emmanuel Macron and my personal idol Jack Ma!

Viva Tech

 

Throughout the week I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the city with my peers. I was excited to meet and connect with other students from different backgrounds and master’s programmes. I found myself travelling by electric scooter everywhere – I highly recommend! And of course eating my way through the week!

James and his cohort by the Seine on electric scooters

 

The study trip has not only changed the way I saw Paris, but also the way I see entrepreneurship! Previously having studied French, I saw Paris as a cultural hub, but now I understand that there is a growing and thriving startup scene.

At the British Embassy

Moving forward from this trip and looking at my future after I finish my master’s, I am now more certain that I want to work in the startup space, whether that means starting my own venture or being part of an early-stage startup. I am hugely grateful to Cass and the team that headed up this field trip. I believe I have got the most out of it and may have potentially found myself a job in Paris!

 

 

From Football to Finance

Why study finance?

Why study finance? For the buzz, of course! My interest within this area was largely driven by my neighbour at the age of 16. He introduced me to penny stocks— BIG mistake. The adrenaline rush had me hooked immediately. It was that excitement and the feeling of sickness in your stomach that drew me in. That feeling was the only thing that came remotely close to the feeling I got on the field as a professional footballer. From that moment onwards, I began building the foundation to explore a career within the stock market should football come to end, whether that be at retirement (so I hoped) or through injury. Unfortunately, neither became true.

Josef Jackson on the field

 

At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with leukaemia and my world fell apart. This was an incredibly tough time for me, but looking back I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel lucky to have a level of appreciation, perspective and an ambition to succeed in life different to my peers. Cancer changed my life for the better. After a year of chemotherapy, I was chomping at the bit to get my life back on track and begin chasing my other dream of becoming a Morgan Stanley trader. I decided to take on a financial mathematics degree. My A-levels were taken alongside professional football, which was tough trying to balance the two and consequently my grades suffered. Frustratingly, this stopped me from attending a Russell Group university which was a setback for sure, but I was more determined than ever. If I could make it as a professional footballer, then I knew I could make it in the finance world. For my graduate application to have any weight, I needed proof that I could compete at that level. After two and a half years of hard work and dedication, I had put myself in a position to stand a chance of being accepted into some of the top universities.

Which university do I pick? 

 After further research on rankings, the diversity of the university and the opportunities to network, I was adamant that Cass was the place for me. I sent off applications to all universities that I was rejected from to study my undergraduate degrees as backups, but Cass was the one I wanted. To my delight, I received offers for all of my applications, but more importantly I got in the place I wanted!

Joe graduates

What’s it like when you first start at Cass?

 My Cass journey started with gentle ice-breakers and social events which exposed me to the international diversity of my cohort. We created WhatsApp groups with people from at least 15 nationalities. If you want to learn about culture, come to Cass! Through this network of international friends, I now have a sofa to crash on in most countries across the globe! In fact, they should really create a Cass Air BnB!

However, graduate application deadlines hit me hard, as well as some of the most difficult academic challenges I’ve ever faced. It’s difficult to juggle all these applications and exams after only being there for six weeks. No-one is superhuman, though, so that’s where Cass come in and support you. Their Careers Team is phenomenal; without their guidance, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.

Joe and his cohort

Looking forward

 In October I began the application process for the Sales and Trading internship at Morgan Stanley. Here at Cass you are not only taught theory, but how this applies in practice which was incredibly invaluable for the technical aspects of the interview process, and will be for my career going forward. My success in all the other aspects of the interviewing process was thanks to the constant help of the careers team. I did practice aptitude tests, practice phone interviews and at least five practice interviews… what more can you ask for?

It was December, a final assessment centre stood between me and a job at Morgan Stanley. Getting to the final stage wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more. This was my moment to show that the impossible can be done, and I nailed it. A dream come true!

So what sets Cass apart from the rest?

 For me, one of the biggest benefits of Cass is the people you meet. Both from a social side and an academic point of view. If you want to find out your competition for the best jobs in the world, then look no further than here. I have never met such a dedicated group of people in my life, if you can compete in this circle then you can compete anywhere. That’s not to say that we are all competing at Cass, the complete opposite in fact. People here realise the importance of building relationships and a network they may not need right now, but what they will need in the future. This level of maturity is what sets this University apart in my opinion.

Another benefit of studying at Cass is the trips, which are unbelievable! In February we travelled to Frankfurt as a group. We had insight into the perspective of some of the biggest banks in the world, we had culture thrown in the mix and also the chance to taste every German beer under the sun.  But on this unique occasion, I was immersed from start to finish. Being able to travel and study abroad as part of my degree is an incredible experience that I feel humbled to be a part of. The only thing missing was the sun, but you can’t have everything, right?

Josef Jackson, MSc Finance (2019)

Top 4 Advantages of Studying Business Analytics

1. Choosing Cass

Prior to Cass, I had completed degrees in Commerce and International Business in Canada. During this time, I went on exchanges to Hong Kong and the Netherlands. I wanted to choose a degree that would equip me with the technical skills of the 21st century. So, when the opportunity to study in London came knocking, I did not hesitate to take up the offer. With data and tech making huge noise in the marketplace, and the master’s in Business Analytics starting its initiation at Cass, the timing could not have been better!

2. A Supportive Cohort

Completing the online pre-course modules, I felt confident in my abilities. But after starting classes full-time in September, I realised there was a personal steep learning curve. Having primarily a background in business principles rather than coding applications, at times it felt like I was not good enough.

Thankfully, in Cass, and especially in my MSc Business Analytics cohort, I found a supportive bunch, always eager and willing to help you out. There is no sense of cutthroat competition akin to some of my previous schools which was a refreshing change. Outside of class it is a huge bonus to have a social community you can connect, spend time and enjoy with!

 

Fun with the MSc Business Analytics ’19 cohort

 

3. Societies, extracurricular fun and networking

I wanted to seek out extracurricular opportunities and reach my maximum potential. I am particularly interested in strategy consulting – and with the right mix of networking, putting my best foot forward and heading up the consulting department at Cass Consultancy Society, I managed to excel and take helm as president of the society.

In particular, the good thing about Cass is that it is not a mammoth school with everyone vying in a constant competitive space. You can have a strategy and execute it with efficiency to take leadership roles within the clubs and societies space.

The experience has equipped me with key skills in leadership, team management, communication and cultural mediation. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience.

 

Cass Consultancy Society meet-up

4. Ace Academia

Initially there was a steep learning curve, but the beauty of pushing yourself to the limit is that you are investing in yourself! When the second term started, I found myself much more at ease with the technical coding aspects of the classes and assignments. It helped me better understand the principles that were going behind the engine that is your computer, the coherence with the data, and making smart analyses and in a sense, data-driven decision-making based on the visualisations of data.

No doubt, I feel much more equipped to take up the pressing challenges of the digital economy and use data as a resource in my career. I always had an appreciation for tech, but not to the extent of studying engineering – but in Business Analytics, I found my true calling: a combination of business and technology applied to essentially take the analytics advantage! I know that within the short span of one year’s time, I have equipped myself with a unique skillset to bridge the gap between business and technology teams – effectively differentiating myself in a hypercompetitive job market. If your passion lies in business and you want to equip yourself with some essential technical skills, you cannot go wrong with the MSc Business Analytics programme at Cass!

Ashhab Ahmad, MSc Business Analytics (2019)

4 Ways Business Analytics Transformed My Life

1. I became a business and data analyst

I could have never imagined that I would have developed so many skills from one master’s degree. It’s true, the course is really challenging. But with hard work and dedication, everything is possible. My undergraduate course was based on finance and accounting; therefore, I did not know a lot about data analysis. Now, I am a confident coder in Python and R, I gained skills in machine learning techniques, and I know how to visualise data. There is a long list of skills that I developed because of this course, and I believe I will utilise each single one as a professional in the industry.

2. I gained friends from all over the world

The first thing that was apparent to me as I walked into the introduction lecture, is the diversity within the cohort. Most students were international, from all parts of the world. Thanks to the course’s focus on group coursework and Cass events, it was very easy to get to know everyone. I met exceptional people and learned about so many different cultures. I made new friends, and even learned to make margaritas with a Mexican friend! These people are potential leaders of the future and being friends and former classmates with them is going to be very helpful in the industry.

3. I became a Londoner

I never understood how different life would be in London. Yes, it’s busy, it’s expensive but it’s also wonderful. By living in London, I understood big city life is for me, and why. You can be free and independent, even if you are around so many people. Everything is so close to reach. You can do everything, from dining at the best restaurant in the world to going to a walk in the park. You meet people from all over the world. This master’s is the reason I moved to London and understood that this is where I want to start my career.

4. I secured the job of my dreams

I know everyone always says, go to the Careers Fair and go to the Careers Events, but no one really believes that anything good is going to come from this. Well, you should all go. If it wasn’t for the Cass Careers Fair, I would never have gotten an amazing job as a technology consultant in the data department of a multinational corporation. It was a dream come true for me. Everyone in my course wanted to get into this industry, and I thought it would be impossible because of the competition. But, I went to the careers fair in September, put on a smile and got as much information from as many representatives I could. I met the representatives and applied to the jobs that suited me best. And this was it. Next year I might even be the representative of the company talking to the new students. I am extremely grateful for Cass, and the careers team for helping me secure this job.

 

Dorina Constantinou
MSc Business Analytics, 2019

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