Recently, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) hosted the first ever “Logistics and Transportation Diversity Challenge” event, a day designed to demonstrate how increased diversity in a team leads to higher productivity, performance and drives innovation.
The event drew 30 teams from companies such as Coca-Cola, DHL, National Express, Siemens, and more. As students in the MSc Global Supply Chain Management course, we have student membership to the CILT and were able to participate. So along with eight of my course mates in MSc Global Supply Chain Management, I travelled up to Newark to represent Cass Business School at the event.
After arrival and putting on our team shirts, the day began with a keynote speech highlighting the aim of the day and the significance of diversity in the work environment. Then we were off! Our team was tested through 14 challenges, requiring different levels of skill, stamina and problem solving, all while being incredibly fun. We climbed an unclimbable ladder, we learned archery, and we performed a Haka. We tested our knowledge in trivia, strategized through an assault course and more.
As we worked through the challenges, we were able to experience the benefit of diversity within our own team. Our varying backgrounds and identities helped us be strategic in earning the most points for each challenge. Each individual shined at a different event, and by the end of the day we were much closer as a team than we had been going into this diversity challenge.
While we may not have scored the top spot and coveted “Team of the Year” award, we did place 3rd out of the 30 competing, which we were very excited about! Overall, it was a great day of practicing team-building skills and meeting professionals from the logistics and transport industry. I look forward to future teams representing Cass and taking away as much from this event as we did.
Julia Elliott MSc Global Supply Chain Management, 2019
Tech is a game-changer across all industries, but none more than insurance.
I was delighted to work on this year’s Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants (AIR-Q) society forum. This year, we selected a focus on insuretech, which is a very pertinent issue within the insurance space. The event brings together students from the Actuarial and Insurance and Risk master’s cohorts as well as insurance industry practitioners and is held at Cass Business School.
The impact of technology cuts across both market needs and service delivery for insurance providers. As Co-President of the AIR-Q society, myself and the rest of the committee felt it was important for students to consider the changing landscape as we prepare to start our professional lives in the sector.
Through keynote addresses provided by esteemed guests Madeline Bailey, James Norman, Massimo Vascotto and Rahul Mathur, attendees got a chance to listen in on how insuretech is expected to transform the future industry roles and market needs.
Speakers illustrated how the sector is already changing. For example, the US-based insuretech startup Lemonade uses AI for most of its operations, including underwriting and claims management. This presents opportunities for “insurance-on-demand” which could be as influential a disruptor as Uber was in the taxi sector.
The speakers’ talks were followed by an interactive panel discussion. One of my key takeaways was that insuretech can be a tool for the optimisation of insurance products and services. Madeline Bailey gave an example of how the Insurewave platform uses blockchain technology to make marine insurance more efficient, thus providing better protection for the very complex maritime logistics sector.
For students to gain an edge in this changing market, they need to equip themselves with modern skills such as programming and data analysis. It is therefore clear why Cass shows support for this by offering modules such as Python Programming, Machine Learning, Modelling and Data Analysis and VBA programming among others.
It was not all praise for insuretech though. Insuretech does indeed present new opportunities, but it is also important to remember that at the centre of it all lies the end-consumer of insurance. Domain knowledge and a good understanding of human factors are crucial in the successful implementation of insuretech. This provided a very balanced debate and an engaging learning experience for both speakers and students.
Leading up to the event, myself and my Co-Presidents Maria Bou-Rizk (MSc Insurance and Risk, 2019), Vinit John (MSc Insurance and Risk, 2019) and Peter Vodicka (PhD candidate in Actuarial Science) worked with support of Cass’ events team to book the speakers and venue. With immense gratitude, we received further support by the Faculty of Actuarial Science and Insurance, with Dr. Simone Krummaker moderating the panel discussion. It was an incredible learning experience that tested our teamwork and organisational skills.
At the end of the event, we hosted a networking session which provided the chance for all the attendees to mingle. Overall, it was a great evening and I look forward to many more successful forums!
Eric Ndoria, MSc Actuarial Management (2019) Co-President, AIR-Q Society 2019
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!
During the second term’s reading week, MSc Management students were offered the possibility of going on a study trip to a European capital, to be chosen out of three options. The idea was to get to learn about a new place, from a professional perspective, but without it having any coursework, exams or any other source of stress attached. No need to say that along with that came a big dose of non-business-related fun, be it touristy visits, intense nightlife or just to enjoy our time with our cohort – there were fifty of us in Prague, so one couldn’t possibly get bored.
What brought me to choose Prague was how little I knew about the Czech Republic in many aspects, but specifically about its business ecosystem, its main industries, etc. The most surprising and interesting aspect of the trip was precisely to discover the economic reality of a country that, even as an EU member, remains very unknown for most of us. We had the chance to have a quite comprehensive grasp of how the Czech Republic is positioned in Europe and in the world in various industries. Personally, I was surprised to see how diverse and solid the economy of such a small country is, and it was interesting to hear experts from different fields talking about how they see the future and how they are preparing for it.
A trip to Skoda
We visited companies as diverse as Skoda, the car manufacturer owned by the VW group; Czech Invest, a government’s accelerator and foreign investment attraction office; the Ceska Sporitelna Bank, one of the biggest Czech banks; Avast, a global cyber security firm; and Sotio, a biomedical company specialised in drugs for cancer. Additionally, we had the chance to attend the presentation event of WeWork, which had just started operating in Prague. I found particularly interesting the visit to Sotio and to Avast, as they both are very innovative companies working on two of the most rapid-moving sectors nowadays. In both cases the speaker was a member of the direction board and their presentations were very insightful and inspiring.
Concretely at Avast, we had the opportunity to hear about the current challenges that the sector and the company face from the commercial director of the company, and then we could see the kinds of things they work on daily, with an impressive screen on the background, showing a world map with the cyber attacks that were taking place everywhere in the globe at that instant (no pictures allowed!).
Prague in the sunshine
Apart from the more “professional” aspect of the trip, I personally enjoyed a lot spending a few days with my cohort, and during the visits and during our free time we had the chance to create a much stronger bond among us. In our free time between visits we wandered around the city centre, sat on a terrace to enjoy the stunning weather, and visited some touristic sights such as the Castle of Prague and an obligatory visit to Karlovy, the five-story club that is supposed to be one of the biggest in Europe. However, if there’s something that makes Prague memorable, that is without doubt the Czech beer; world-class taste at an unbelievably affordable price. The party was served.
Overall the trip was a great experience, a good opportunity to take a break from the course in London, to build our knowledge about the realities of business in another country, and to create stronger bonds among the cohort. I am very much looking forward to the international elective I will be undertaking in May in Paris, which is going to be a more professional trip where we will apply what we have learned in class to a real business problem.
When I found out about the international study tours, I jumped at the opportunity to join. The study tours gave my cohort the chance to visit Lisbon, Berlin or Prague. I chose Berlin as I had the chance to discover the culture, the architecture, the food, but also to meet local entrepreneurs. We went to explore how their businesses are run, what issues they face and how they resolve them.
There is a world outside the classroom ready to back up young people who are willing to work hard. If you have a good idea and the character to pursue your dream, if London won’t be your home, Berlin could be. Personally, I have already worked in France and the UK, and I will now definitely take Berlin into consideration as another option. Cass Business school gave me the possibility to visit the city from a professional prospective that I could never had otherwise.
We met inspirational entrepreneurs who made us see the city through their own eyes. One of them in particular invited us to see beyond the cold German architecture and the cloudy weather, and instead look deeper to appreciate the thumping heart of the city, so open, dynamic and cosmopolitan. Germany is a country that has stood up twice from its own ruins, and both times it became stronger than before. The future is bright in Germany’s capital.
We mostly visited start-up incubators, so since the first day, I started questioning myself and wondering whether I should set my own business instead of working for somebody else. I had never thought seriously about this option, as it once seemed to be a world so far away that it was hard to imagine what it would really look like. However, by meeting these professionals who so openly talked about the failures and the challenges they had to face to get where they are now, I think I now have a realistic overview of what it takes to be an entrepreneur: a mix of passion and resilience.
I was really inspired by the quote: “ask yourself where the pain is bigger.” This was told to us by Maurice Grassau, CEO at Architrave, which develops digital processes and solutions for the real estate industry. He delivered an incredible speech about launching a start-up that I will remember forever. He explained to us that from his experience, if you will ever find yourself looking for a valuable idea to base your start-up on, you should focus on what is the factor that causes more issues to get done, the thing that is so tricky or time consuming that people would love to pay for getting it sorted. During his speech, he gave us other important insights about managing a business, such as choosing a partner who will often challenge your ideas and thinks differently from you. He also imparted that you should always acknowledge the pressure on your co-workers, as he said “you can’t keep people on stress mode for 12 straight months”.
I’d like to thank Cass for the possibility to listen to such experienced people and see another part of the world. Sometimes we are so focused on the textbooks that we forget that the things we study are aimed to be applied. This trip was a good reminder of that.
“Ok guys, we are going to apply tonight.” Those were the words I said to convince myself and two friends to apply to Cass Business School one evening in March 2016.
These were words of hope. We were lost and all we wanted was a breakthrough. We were three confused students, with an obsession for the stock market but clueless about the financial world. At least I was! Like most people applying for an MSc degree, we were clueless as to where the degree would take us. If you are reading this, you might be asking yourself the same questions. All of us came from disadvantaged backgrounds, with little or no experience, but that did not stop us— it became a fuel for our unstoppable thirst for success.
I moved to Brixton in London when I was 13, long before the area was gentrified. At 15 my secondary school teacher told me that I would not go far in life and by 16 I wanted to drop out of college. As if it was not enough, I was also working ridiculous hours to help my mum at home as she was a single parent. None of my friends knew what university was, and the ones who did didn’t bother applying.
Fast forward to eight years later and I was about to make the hardest decision of my life: applying to a top business school with no money for the fees. I had passion, a willingness to learn and I saw Cass Business School as a catalyst to my success.
Michael Salvi and his cohort
I strongly believe that the environment and people you are surrounded with have a strong impact on your life. Many transformative events took place during my time at Cass, but meeting Professor Nick Motson (Associate Dean of the MSc Programmes) a year into my MSc was one of the most significant. As I walked in, his secretary offered me cake after telling me off for being late. The meeting was brief. I complained and explained my frustration about my current job situation, and how I was failing to see the use of my time at the Business School. Nick listened, like a wise man with a long white beard from a movie. Then he spoke, and I listened. Nick taught me about alternative investment and made me fall in love with the hedge fund industry. He described it with so much fascination, triggering my interest in the field I currently work in. During this meeting, I remember being surprised because for the first time, someone really believed in me. He wasn’t just speaking in platitudes, his words were firm and confident.
Nick’s words were the catalyst which I had looked for for so long: words of encouragement and wisdom, which I then went sharing to my friends, who similarly to me felt demotivated. I eventually completed the MSc with flying colours, winning the Beta Gamma award for excellence whilst completing the CFA Level One and working full-time. I borrowed to pay for the MSc, in fact we all did. During those two years, we were rejected, defeated, laughed at and told we could not make it, but my first conversation with him stood out above everything else. This conversation overpowered all negativity that had surrounded us before. Nick’s favourite words were, “there is no free lunch in the financial markets”— and believe me, there really isn’t.
In the end, my friends and I all went to work our dream jobs. One pursued his love for deals and works in investment banking. Another chased his love of coding and became a quant at a hedge fund. Finally, as an enthusiast of equity analysis, the last friend became a research analyst at a leading asset management firm.
If you are looking for a breakthrough like I was when I applied back in 2016, my suggestion is to cast the doubt away and go for it. You won’t be able to connect the dots just yet, but rest assured that once you complete the degree it will all make sense. On completion of our degrees, my friends and I have now been able to connect the dots going backwards. With determination and perseverance, you can achieve what we’ve achieved too.
Michael Salvi graduates
Studying at Cass wasn’t just a means to an end. It provided me an overview and guided my career choice. Each of the modules that I studied helped me steer my ship in the right direction, all of which would not have happened if I didn’t have some amazing crew members as lecturers!
Here I am now, listening to one of my favourite songs, Craig David’s “Rise and Fall”, as I write this post on my flight back to London. I have learned many lessons, and there are many more to learn. The most important is to take all the chances that come your way. Fear is always going to tell you that you can’t, hope says that you will, but it takes determination and drive to reach and produce endless results.
Whether you are a student applying for the Cass Business School or not, remember that when everything might seem to be going against you, “planes take off in the opposite direction from the wind.” Fight your fears and any other forces trying to stop you from moving forward. If the plane can manage to take off with all the resistance, trust me so can you!
Prior to my bachelor’s degree in psychology, my father would sit me down and talk to me about the insurance industry’s potential, hoping that one day I would follow his path and that of his brothers. I was, however, fixated on a certain perception that stopped me from delving deeper into this misunderstood field. Upon finishing my bachelor’s, I soon realised that despite my passion for psychology, it was not the right career for me. By that time, I had lost my father and my main source of guidance and advice. I struggled to find a new passion that would give me the same excitement and thrill as that from psychology.
I am lucky enough to come from a family that looks out for each other. Although I lost my father, I had another father figure in my life that I looked up to, my uncle, Wael El Khatib, the Chairman of Lockton MENA. My uncle completed his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass in 1998. Upon completing his degree, he had unknowingly begun a legacy for the Khatibs to follow. Years later, my cousin, Ata El Khatib, followed in his father’s footsteps and also completed his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass in 2008. Ata is currently Deputy CEO at Lockton MENA.
I think by now you know where this is heading… Ata was not the last Khatib at Cass. His brother, Faris, also joined Cass in 2012 and completed the same master’s degree. Faris is currently the head of Employee Benefits at Lockton MENA. Obviously, the list continues… In 2016, Zainab, their sister, also joined Cass. Zainab had a similar background to mine where, despite her bachelor’s in linguistics, she decided to venture into the world of insurance. She joined Liberty Specialty Markets in London, around two years ago, in an underwriting assistant role for the Strategic Assets team.
During my phase of confusion, Zainab spent hours talking to me about the beauty of the insurance industry. She described it as “the field that offers you something new every day, the field that challenges your analytical abilities and forces you to think about the unthinkable.” She helped me overcome the misconceptions and helped me acquire a clearer vision of what I wanted. That’s how the fifth member of the Khatib family joined Cass, as I am currently doing my MSc in Insurance and Risk Management.
Faris, Ata and Wael El Khatib
If it wasn’t for my uncle, I wouldn’t be where I am at right now. He encouraged me to join Cass and supported me in every way. They all told me about the strength of Cass’s education system, their remarkable memories at Cass and the unbreakable friendships that they developed. Hence, I knew that Cass was the place to be. There was always a common story that I heard, a story that described my family’s respect towards our professor, Chris Parsons. Professor Parsons managed to teach every member of my family. In the span of 20 years, he met the father, the sons, the daughter and the niece! Which is crazy if you think about it…
Zainab Khatib’s graduation
I am currently creating my own Cass experience, which so far has been indescribable. Not only have I acquired a new family that is so diverse and caring, I am discovering a world that I had no idea existed. Although I am leaning more towards Risk Management at this point, I am enjoying every aspect of the programme. I can’t deny it, it can be challenging sometimes, but I am definitely receiving the appropriate support and knowledge from my professors to help me overcome the obstacles. It is safe to say that my vision of what I want to do after my master’s is becoming clearer. But for the time being, I am planning to take my time in developing this vision. Every day I am learning something new, every day I am falling in love with a different aspect of this field. But, I am sure that Cass will eventually direct me towards establishing my vision.
MSc Insurance and Risk Management, 2019
Just like I knew I wanted to compete in the 2012 London Olympics as the youngest ever Turkish swimmer, I knew at the age of 14 I wanted to be in the marketing and media industry.
Hazal Sarikaya at the 2012 Olympics in London
Prior to the Olympics Games, I was selected to be in Vogue Turkey and on the last sentence of the published article, it read “When we asked Hazal where she imagines herself in 15 years, she said ‘Someone who travelled the world, has friends all over the world and who has a successful career in marketing and swimming’“.
Swimming has been a big part of my life since I was seven years old and it taught me many things from patience, time management to leadership. Being a professional swimmer and travelling around the world to compete led me to understand different cultures and look at the world from the different angle.
I then decided to move onto my next passion: media and marketing. Before joining Cass, I had the chance to gain two years of work experience in two of the biggest firms in FMCG: pladis Global and Colgate Palmolive. At pladis, one of my key roles was to accompany press visits as the first representative of the company with senior exposure and to manage the social media accounts which involved monitoring the news agenda, creating content and liaising with agencies accordingly. These were very prestigious roles in a £3.5 bn company.
My time at pladis was ending so I decided I wanted another challenge away from the media aspects of a business. I applied for Colgate Summer Marketing internship and was successful with my application. Having had no previous marketing knowledge or experience meant that I had to work twice as hard and I was willing to do that! Perhaps this is something I’ve learned through managing education and sports at the same time, by putting in the extra hours and hard work.
During my first year at Colgate, my report on Colgate’s business highlighted couple million pounds worth of growth opportunity, and my recommendations were implemented shortly after. In the following year, I was asked to re-join as a project manager and led the most successful campaign to date! Having these internship experiences was very useful in confirming my passion for Marketing, but I still felt that I was missing the theoretical knowledge required in possible future jobs. To develop my knowledge for the industry, as well as to accelerate my career, I applied for the Master’s in Marketing at Cass knowing that with my experience and the knowledge I will gain from this year I will be ready for any challenge!
I was drawn to Marketing Strategy and Innovation because of the variety of modules offered. For instance, I was particularly interested in the Brand Management module as I aspire to be a brand manager in a FMCG company within the next few years. Considering my swimming background, I was also interested in modules such as International Sponsorships as well.
Hazal and coursemates at Cass
Two weeks after my internship finished, the introduction week at Cass started and from the first day I felt lucky to be a part of an established university with so much talent. We are currently on our second term and it’s fair to say I am enjoying every day at my master’s. As expected, my favourite module has become Brand Management and also Consumer Behaviours. The ability to work with real companies on real problems using the theories we learn from our lecturers are definitely preparing us to be the leaders in Marketing in the near future.
My advice for prospective students: Don’t be afraid to take on challenges and never settle before you reach your dreams!
My name is Nderitu Ndegwa. I was born in Kenya, raised in Botswana and studied Actuarial Science and Mathematical Statistics in South Africa. Thereafter, I worked as a Senior Actuarial Analyst at Deloitte in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I chose Cass Business School as I wanted to improve upon my leadership skills. I currently serve as the President of the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants (AIR-Q) Society.
My time at the Cass Business School has been challenging but amazing. The UK is the first European country I have visited independently. I experienced some culture shock at first, but the student diversity that exists here made me feel at home, as I discovered my peer group is partly comprised of Kenyans, alongside Chinese and Indian students, too. Studying with such a varied group of students has allowed me to learn more about different cultures and perspectives.
A positive attitude, I believe, helps one overcome any challenges or obstacles in one’s path. I believe that any student who has ambition and drive will be able to resolve anything; the students coming out of Cass Business School are future game-changers!
In the near future, AIR-Q Society will host both a Sports Day and a Casino Night. The Casino Night will see members use their skills collaboratively to win a Casino game. Alongside my fellow Actuaries, I hope to make a positive impact during my year at Cass Business School.