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Overcoming barriers

Alumni Stories.

In conversation with Aleksander Napieralski (BSc (Hons) Finance, 2020)

Despite the challenges of living with Dyslexia and ADHD, Aleksander Napieralski (BSc (Hons) Finance, 2020) continues to show a huge commitment to working hard! Not only did he graduate from his undergraduate degree with the Business School (formerly Cass) earlier on this year, he is already studying the MSc Computer Games Technology course at City, not allowing anyone or anything to stand in the way of his goals. 

Find out more about Aleksander’s experiences and why you should “never, ever give up, and always believe in your greatness”….

Can you tell me about why you chose to study at the Business School and your experience there?

I was not the one with good grades, due to my undiagnosed Dyslexia and ADHD. I was not expecting to get into University, even until the very last day before starting the course.

I worked hard in college and gave myself the opportunity of going to university by picking the Business School as my primary choice on UCAS. I do not regret this. Although, if I had failed to achieve the required grades, I would not have been able to get into the University that year.

I still remember that when I did not receive my grade for English that my application could potentially be discarded, despite getting the required grades for the course. Thankfully, on the last two days before the deadline we managed to work on an accredited certificate for me to pass my GCSE and join the Business School.

Studying at City, truly brought me an amazing experience. It is difficult to explain. It requires a lot of work, self-discipline and most importantly, determination. If one does not have such, they will surely fail. We had many who did not complete their degree or dropped out every year because they were not up to the task. Although, we also had many who would do everything in their power to complete it and with those, I received our degree.

I was a student representative for three consecutive years at the Business School and tried my best to help the University to be a better version of itself. Using feedback of students and my ability to acknowledge professors’ points of view, helped me to find a middle-ground and apply many changes over the years.

Additionally, I used my learning experience to help the younger generation get better at Maths and English skills, in order to support them with their tests and GCSE exams. I did this because I remembered how I struggled and believed it was not possible. Although, the only thing I needed was someone to just explain it to me in a different way.

What have you been up to since graduating?

After I graduated, I changed my major to a different one. I am currently studying MSc Computer Games Technology at City, University of London. I was advised not to do MSc in Finance, as most of the subjects in the MSc, I had already completed during my Bachelor. It would be much more efficient if I was to do an MSc in a different course and then go back to Finance in the future if I wish to do so.

That said, I have chosen a bit of a scary path as it is a completely different course and not something I have studied previously. I had to put a lot of effort in during summer to complete two coding courses (C++ and Java), in order to prepare myself for the course.

That’s great to hear you are still studying with us at City. What encouraged you to take on the MSc Computer Games Technology?

I was looking at a variety of Master choices but the only thing I knew, was that I wanted to stay at City, due to the many people I had met and knew there. This includes students, teachers and also administrative staff.

Someone mentioned to me during that time, “maybe you should do Computer Games Technology degree? After all you are passionate about games and love programming and creating games in your own time.” I had to admit it was a very interesting idea. Although, I knew it would be challenging because I had no actual background in coding or educational experience in creating games. The University confirmed it would be hard work but that I could do it and, thankfully, I got accepted.

What have been the most rewarding experiences of studying?

The most rewarding experience for me is being able to study two degrees at the institution, despite not having studied such modules before. My passion and hard work is what took me there. I have received a great amount of support from the University and my college, that has helped me to become more than prepared for these degrees.

Throughout the years, I have also grown substantively. I barely remember who I was before I went back to education. I was working random jobs with small salaries and no grades to find any career that I wanted to settle with. I never believed I could reach where I did at that time. However, because I put so much effort in and I believed I could do it, I have found it all very rewarding.

This was one of those decisions where one puts everything one has on one card and understands that failure would leave one with nothing. Although, if one manages to pull it off, one only gathers rewards for the sacrifices made.

What have been the biggest challenges with studying?

My ADHD and Dyslexia have always made it difficult for me to pass my exams or finish my work with specific deadlines. I was always bad at doing exams, although my coursework grades were usually high. So, passing my degree with the grade I wanted was fairly difficult.

Being able to adapt to the workload and lifestyle that university (especially the Business School) requires was difficult. In addition, the extra activities I was doing, such as tutoring, made it more challenging.

Lastly, I believe that my biggest challenge was fear that I could not do it. That I was not capable of accomplishing it. That in some way I was fooling myself. It took me a long time to overcome this issue but since then, I have grown significantly and become a much better person in everyone’s eyes. I tried to inspire others with my story back in the day, which I believe was a great success. Many people go through this kind of fear, so observing someone who overcame it and pushed no matter what, can help them to overcome their own challenges.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

The only advice I could give is believe in yourself, no matter what. I came from a background where I believed that our future is determined by the hand we are dealt . What I did not know back then is that it is possible to put your cards back into the deck, shuffle and try again if one chooses to do so.

It can be very scary, which is the most challenging part of it all. Making life decisions is always scary, so is choosing a different path but we have to have the guts to give it a go sometimes.

Never, ever give up, and always believe in your greatness. We choose who we are and what we will accomplish. I have personally overcome many mistakes and always put effort in to grow from them, no matter what.

I am a music creator, in a band, a singer. I have a degree in finance, I am creating my games and still planning on running my own business in the future. There is nothing that stops us from doing whatever we want in life.

My ADHD and dyslexia makes my life hard, especially with achieving the grades I want. However, it is not just about grades but the fact that you’ve tried to achieve something you’re passionate about. Always seek self-growth no matter what. Take risks: ‘it is better to aim high and miss, than aim low and hit’. Only then you will truly know yourself.

Thanks to Aleksander for sharing his inspirational studying journey. We wish him the best of luck with the MSc!

Cultural Appreciation

Alumni Stories.

Miyuki Seguchi was born and raised in Japan. But it wasn’t until she returned after completing a Masters in Financial Journalism (2011) that she started to appreciate its wonder. Armed with her journalism experience and now also a qualification in tourism, Miyuki has created a podcast, Japan Experts, to share her reaffirmed love of Japanese art, history and culture.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

It was an intensive ten-month period. I was one of the first-year students for the Master’s degree in Financial Journalism programme, together with 13 other students, most of whom had a diverse background and unique international experience. We gained first-hand experience and skills required for print, broadcast and digital journalism through our programme, fieldwork and class visits to major media organisations, as well as through internship opportunities.

I would also like to share an unforgettable event in March 2011 when Japan experienced the biggest earthquake ever, followed by a massive tsunami. I still remember the morning that my eyes glued to a TV screen in the reception area of the journalism department. Soon after, I received a phone call from a British newspaper and a radio station to provide support for their stories and programmes. I felt emotional and uneasy about what was happening in my country but I went to their office to help. I worked day and night to find appropriate interviewees, arranged interviews, and acted as an interpreter; all of these efforts were appreciated in the newsrooms, which made me feel valued.

All of these experiences, together with City’s reputation as one of the world’s best journalism schools, helped me to achieve my high ambition, which was to become an English-writing (speaking) journalist.

I am grateful to everyone who supported me during my time at City including friends, lecturers and university staff, as well as senior editors and journalists at the Financial Times Group where I interned.

What happened after you graduated?

With an internship offer at Bloomberg in Tokyo, I decided to return to Japan and started my career as an English-writing journalist. After a few months, I moved to the Tokyo bureau of Dow Jones where I received solid hands-on training. I was very fortunate to not only learn how to write fast and accurately, but I also worked on feature stories for the Wall Street Journal, a paper I had always admired, as well as the Financial Times. After that, I had an opportunity to work at the English news section of Japan’s national broadcaster NHK.

Since then, I have moved into the corporate world, joining the PR & Communications team at major global companies. Throughout these times, I have enhanced my skills in crafting key messages (storylines), telling stories effectively, and leveraging multiple channels, while having deepened my understanding of the other side of the media world.

How have you continued to stay connected to City since graduating?

Since my graduation from City, I have taken a role in sharing my experience in the UK with prospective students through participating in Study Abroad Fairs and through written pieces. Through these opportunities, I have been fortunate to talk about my time at City and also to have stayed connected with the international recruitment team who provided me with huge support when applying to the journalism programme.

How did the idea for your podcast come about?

Through my professional experience, I found my passion in connecting with people, asking good questions, and identifying interesting stories to tell. Having experienced several years of the corporate life in different industries, I reconfirmed my interest in arts, culture, and history. Having gone through ups and downs in the past ten years, I gained confidence to follow my passion and to work independently.

While having expanded my professional field into regional tourism development, I have relearnt Japanese history, culture and everything related to my country. This helped me to become a licensed guide for international travellers and to realise authentic values in Japan’s long-lasting local culture and traditions, most of which are struggling to survive. I thought their stories were worth sharing with international audience who have limited access to such resources due to the language barrier.

The idea of podcasting came from all these thoughts and reflections. My podcast Japan Experts aims to introduce the cultural wonders of Japan in English, together with experts in a particular field. So far, it has covered a wide range of topics from flower arranging to swords to traditional stage performance.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Discovering the many wonders of Japan is a true reward, so is talking to insightful speakers who have shared the love of their lifework. I am enjoying all of the new encounters and collaborations that would never have happened if I had not launched this podcast. I am truly honoured to have had the opportunity to connect with listeners across the world; from 57 countries so far.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Producing an episode that is appealing to listeners is not so easy. I understand that my podcast has huge room for improvement and I would like to make it better. At the same time, it is also tough to stay motivated and distribute content on a regular basis. I hope to create a sustainable business model that allows me to have some support so that Japan Experts can add more value to the listeners.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

My podcast was born out of my curiosity, which I believe is one of my greatest skillsets. Anyone who is keen to pursue a career into journalism should have a strong curiosity. If you are one of those people, I would encourage you to follow your passion. It may take many years to achieve your goal. It may end up leading to something else. In any cases, all the experience throughout your journey will become your greatest asset and will help you to discover your future path.

 

To listen to Miyuki’s podcast, simply search for ‘Japan Experts’ on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or visit the website: anchor.fm/japan-experts

You can also access Japan Experts via YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Miyuki is keen to hear from you, particularly if you might like to collaborate,  so feel free to get in touch via any of her social media channels.

Ode to a Grecian Alumna

Alumni Stories.

A finalist in the 2020 British Council Alumni Awards in Greece, Sophia Peloponnissiou’s (Museum and Gallery management, 2000) contribution to art and culture is more than noteworthy. Having set up the largely voluntary Katakouzenos House Museum, Sophia is on a mission to ‘revive a mid-20th century Athenian house and turn it from a residential venue to a community-oriented and education-based institution’. Read on to find out how it’s going and how she got there.

 Can you tell me about your time at City?

I started my MA in Museums and Gallery Management in September 2000. It was a year to remember. I had the chance to be taught by such great professors and I’ll always remember them not only as professors but also as personalities.

I’d like to especially mention Vicky Woolard the Course Leader, for teaching me the importance of method, John Last, for showing me a different way to approach my research and Dr Iain Robertson, for believing in me.

During my year at City I had the opportunity to discover many different paths leading me to knowledge and helping me discover art and culture. I visited so many museums and galleries and it was a real privilege to read at the London Library. The conditions there are ideal for research and it certainly helped when writing-up my various essays and my thesis.

Sophia at her graduation, 2001

Last but not least, during my studies I had the privilege to work as a volunteer at the Museum of the Bank of England. I’ll always be grateful to its curator John Keyworth, and all my colleagues there for their support and the way they treated me.

I cannot overstate the importance of the education I received at City University, 20 years ago, and the overall experience of that year, in achieving many of the things I did afterwards; this I shall never forget.

What happened after you graduated?

After my graduation I returned to Greece, at my previous position as an assistant to the Governor of the National Bank of Greece, but I knew that I wanted to follow a different path in my life.

A year later I returned to London and stayed there for five unforgettable years with my husband,

I had the chance to travel through England and Scotland, visiting so many museums, galleries, historical places, and house-museums. I also had the chance to collaborate with a gallery and present to a Greek audience an exhibition of works by English artists. In 2005, I gave birth to my daughter and we decided that it was time to return to Greece.

Thanks to my studies, I was reassigned at the Historical Archives of National Bank of Greece and from 2008 until now I have had the privilege to work at the National Bank of Greece’s Cultural Foundation.

Although I honour the opportunity given to me through my professional career, my true pride is that I had the chance to set-up the Katakouzenos House Museum (KHM),  inspired by my Master’s thesis and probably the first of its kind in Greece to operate as the house museums in the UK.

Can you tell us a bit more about Katakouzenos House Museum?

Houses, homes, go as far back as humans do. They have always played a major role in the life of people, safeguarding their values, preserving their memories, structuring their stories. Lives are remembered, retold, recreated but also inspired, planned and experienced inside, around and because of houses. They are the primordial shells of human thought and action, the primeval elements of what makes as humans.

Angelos & Leto Katakouzenos, 1930

Internal view of the Katakouzenos House Museum living room

ΚΗΜ’s goal is to revive a mid-20th century Athenian house and turn it from a residential venue to a community-oriented and education-based institution, following the principles and expanding on the possibilities of house museums.

The former owners of the house, Angelos and Leto Katakouzenos, belonged to the intellectual elite of their times and functioned as cultural ambassadors of their country abroad and arbiters of international tendencies to Hellas.

Since the 1960s, during the time the couple lived there, the house functioned as a literary salon: its rooms hosted many visitors of international fame, mainly artists, but also writers and poets. The flat also contains a representative collection of works by the most important artists of the so-called Hellenic “1930s generation”, and by many international artists too.

I am very proud of my volunteer work at the Katakouzenos House Museum from 2008 until now and its progress during the last twelve years, especially given the extremely limited financial support received.

The opening was made in collaboration with the John Martin Gallery and the Freud Museum. I had the privilege to present the work of Richard Cartwright side by side with the paintings from the permanent collection of the house (among them a painting by Marc Chagall) and it was really great that Richard, Jonh Martin and his colleagues came to Greece for three days in order to personally attend this opening.

I also managed to collaborate with the Freud Museum, in London, which was in many ways an inspiration for my work at the KHM.

I truly believe that a significant part of the success of the opening of the Katakouzenos House Museum was due to these two collaborations and this gave me the strength to continue my volunteer work and my efforts to stay close to the British civilisation and culture for all those years.

What sparked your interest in British art and culture?

Μy late father, Admiral Emmanuel Peloponnissios OBE, is the person who passed to me his love for most things British and whose example I try to follow. He was born in Kimolos, a Greek island, in1940. Ηis father was lost in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous military campaign in World War II. As he grew, he learned to speak English by reciting Shakespeare by heart. He managed to study in London in 1978 and his was honoured by Queen Elizabeth on 1989 as he saved 480 children who came from many schools from England for a cruise trip in Greece and were sunk by an another boat. His moto during his life was from the famous poem written by English poet John Keats:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
– that is all  ye know on earth,
and all ye need to know.

(Did you know that one of John Keats’ most famous poems ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ was inspired by a Greek urn that he saw in the British Museum?)

As you can imagine with such a father, it was my destiny to have an admiration in British art and culture and as I grew older I realised that through the Britons I had discovered many things about the Greeks that I once ignored.

Congratulations again on being a finalist for the British Council Lifetime Achievement award. Has being a finalist opened any new opportunities?

It was a real honour to be a finalist for the British Council Lifetime Achievement Award. It was certainly an exciting process and while gathering the information on what I had done at the KHM, I was reminded of many things I had forgotten over the years. It also led to do a bit of soul-searching, which is an opportunity in itself! And I re-connected with the City University twenty years after my graduation which was also really valuable for me!

Why might City alumni consider getting involved with the British Council in Greece or in general?

Since the years immediately after the Second World War and all the way until today, the British Council has had an important role in Greece. It is a strong link between the two counties, and especially after Brexit, its mission becomes more important than ever. So, I would certainly advise any City alum in Greece who wants to keep his/her connection – especially a cultural one – with the UK alive to actively keep in touch with this historic and increasingly relevant British institution.

How has the pandemic impacted your industry and your role specifically?

In my role as KHM’s curator, my main concern is to find ways to continue being helpful to our visitors and to our society more generally. Given the operational difficulties arising from the pandemic, I tried to find sponsors to develop and launch some virtual projects. I am proud to say -and at the same time thankful to the sponsors – that I managed to find support from three different sources for respective projects.

Having said that, and even though all the people working at the KHM are offering their time, ideas and energy on a purely voluntary basis. Covering the operational expenses remains a huge challenge under any conditions, but even more so, during these pandemic days.

What does the future look like for British culture and art in Greece?

Modern British culture and art have certainly been influenced by Greek culture and art, especially the classical ones, they have also significantly influenced modern Greek ones. British education was and is a source of strong interest for Greek students and British language, music, and art are still a dominant influence. I certainly hope that from a political point of view, the necessary conditions for this strong and mutual relationship, including travelling between the two countries and staying long-term at them, will remain in place.

What do you love most about the work that you do?

My work as a curator at the Katakouzenos House Museum made me realise how far my opportunities have driven me and helped me discover the path I wish to follow. Although following the moral principles I had adopted at the beginning made for a difficult path, it nevertheless gave me the opportunity not only to be creative but also to support many people and help create a lot of important works of art. Over the years, I have tried to do my best and I am proud of what has been achieved at the KHM.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Fight for your dreams and never give up. “Worthy is the price paid” as the Nobel-prize winner Odysseas Elytes wrote in one of his poems.

In closing, I would like to say that I could not have managed to go as far as I have without my family: my husband, and my daughter, who have stood by me all these years.

Sixty years at City: An interview with Alan Parish

Alumni Notice Board.

Written by Gemma Bradshaw

“I consider City to be the place which has provided the most significant influence on my life”

This year, Alan Parish is celebrating his sixtieth year as a staff member at City.

Reflecting on his time at the University, from his very first steps inside the then Northampton College of Advanced Technology as a student in 1958, to today, Alan recalls tales from the Student Rag, his work in External Relations and Examinations, and completing close to 400 City graduation ceremonies as University Mace Bearer.

Looking to the future, Alan comments:

Everything will be different in the coming months or years, depending on when Covid-19 is defeated. However, as the President would say, “We will have progressed”, and I have no doubt that everything at City will improve, until its ranking in the world is as high as possible.

What are your memories of joining City in the 60s, the then Northampton College of Advanced Technology?
The first time I set foot inside City (in those days the Northampton College of Advanced Technology), was September 8th 1958, straight from an apprenticeship with the General Electric Company. I was studying Light Engineering, in the Department of Electrical Engineering. I still remember my first lecture on Power Engineering, specifically electric motors.

In that first term, every new student took part in the Student Rag, which involved wearing fancy dress and walking around London to find such things as a six-inch nail and who was on the end of a telephone number. This was somebody from the Students’ Union who had been briefed to make the call as stupid as possible.

Anyone who didn’t take part in the Rag was dumped in the horse trough, (which still sits on the pavement opposite the old Blacksmith & The Toffee Maker pub on St John Street), or thrown into the old College Building swimming pool.

What was your first staff role at City, and tell us about your roles over the years?
After not passing my exams in my first year, the Head of Department, Dr Soper, recommended that I join the staff as a technician and spend one day a week repeating the course for a second time. I gladly accepted this suggestion and started as a member of staff on the following day, not realising that I would remain a staff member for sixty years.

My roles have changed over the years – and have included Experimental Officer, Examinations Officer, School Archivist and University Mace Bearer.

In 1986 I was asked to help the Departmental Examinations Officer who was struggling to provide the necessary service for an increasing number of courses within the School of Engineering. This was a great development because I became involved with examinations procedures for the remainder of my full-time employment at the University. I eventually took over as Departmental Examinations Officer and continued to develop methods of displaying results for members of the various Examination Boards. I was responsible for storing every examination mark and every coursework mark for every Electrical Engineering student so that I could produce comprehensive spreadsheets for the examination boards for each course. This was so successful that I was asked to do the same work for all Mechanical Engineering students and later for all MSc students.

Later, I was approached by the Head of External Relations to be a Clerical Assistant where I stayed for five years. I worked on the development of the alumni database, where I invented a system of data cleaning.

I was then asked to take back my old role as Examinations Officer. I left External Relations in 2000 and started 11 years in what I consider to be the most gratifying period of my employment in the University. My work not only involved keeping students’ marks but producing final examination papers for the academic staff. This involved formatting, liaising with the examiners and ensuring that they were satisfied with the adjustments made, dealing with examination timetables and sorting out problems which inevitably arise during the examination periods. For one resit session I had to produce 182 properly formatted examination papers.

Since 1996 I have acted as the University Mace Bearer at Graduation following an invitation from the Ceremonial Officer. This became a regular job and I have now completed 392 such ceremonies at the London Guildhall, at Southwark Cathedral, at the Methodist Central Hall and at the Barbican Centre.

Have there been any challenges along the way?
Probably my most challenging time at the University occurred in 2004 when the new computer system SITS was introduced. While far superior to the old system, I found the new system so complicated that it became impossible to use without experts being involved. It was a shame because SITS was obviously an improvement, but I felt the way it was introduced left a lot to be desired.

How has it felt to see thousands of City students graduate over the years?
It always gives me a sense of pride to represent the University every time I take part in graduation ceremonies. There is something magical about being watched by people all over the world, either in person or virtually.

Even when at different venues, the ceremonies are almost identical. But the occasional ‘problem’, such as a rolling mace one time at the Barbican Centre and a fire evacuation at the Guildhall, all add to the experience of taking part in such grand events.

What has been the stand-out highlight of your career at City?
There have been two real highlights of my career at City. One was the occasion when I played the organ for a graduation ceremony at St Bartholomew-the-Great Church in Smithfield, to several hundred people. I felt very important as I knew if anything went wrong it would be noticed. As it happened, everything went particularly well.

The other highlight was being congratulated by the Examination Board Chairman after each board meeting after my spreadsheets had been considered, following months of work to get them finalised.

And a highlight from your life outside City?
Having gone as far as I wanted to in engineering, I started to concentrate on working towards a degree in music. I took postal lessons and then private lessons at Trinity College of Music. I consider appearing in front of the Queen Mother at the Royal Albert Hall in 1971 to be the highlight of my life. After that, I took several music diplomas and ended up with one either for teaching or general musicianship from each of the major London music colleges.

What does City mean to you in a few words?
Having worked for only two organisations in my career, the General Electric Company for three years, and City for sixty, it is no surprise that I consider City to be the place which has provided the most significant influence on my life. I have gained so many skills at City which I have appreciated so much.

Lights, Camera…Podcast

Alumni Stories.

Credit: Michael Shelford

Sagar Radia (Media and Sociology, 2007) is no stranger to the spotlight; you may recognise him from ITV’s The Good Karma Hospital. He has also acted in Jesse Eisenberg’s play The Spoils and is currently on-screen in HBO/BBC’s new finance show Industry. But now, Sagar is using his platform ‘to celebrate and ignite honest conversations with people from all different backgrounds’ via his co-hosted podcast Rule Not The Exception.

We caught up with Sagar to find out all about his acting journey and what we can expect from his new podcast.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

Going to a University in the heart of London was a different experience to those of my friends who opted for a more traditional campus feel in the north of England. I was surrounded by skyscrapers and Starbucks, alongside the melting-pot of multiculturalism and millennials.

I quite enjoyed my time at City. I had friends, who I’ve known since I was 12 years old, continue on our educational path together, whilst also meeting an eclectic mix of people who I could learn from and debate with about our lived experiences.

Northampton Square being the HQ of the University felt like a centre-point for pre-nights out, or post if the Student Union had anything to do with it. I remember frequently walking down the long hallway connecting the canteen to the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, and everything in-between. This was where I saw it all happen – people rushing to lectures, grabbing a coffee or a bite to eat, social group used it as a meeting point, University groups used it to recruit members to the cause, and guys and girls would pass a smile over fleeting moments, or more.

Over ten years on and I look back on my time with fondness. Whenever I’m in the surrounding area I catch myself reminiscing about The Elbow Room, Pitcher & Piano, or closer to home, the destruction my friends and I caused during our tenure at a flat on Bath Street which sat adjacent to Old Street roundabout. Unrecognisable now to how it was then. Taken over by vegan cafes and WeWorks offices, the years between 2004-2007 seem like a lifetime ago, but one I won’t forget any time soon.

What happened after you graduated?

The rare feeling of certainty of what I wanted to do with my life was compounded after I graduated. Having already achieved professionals acting roles for the likes of the BBC and Channel 4, I knew I had to continue what I’d started.

The most unusual part of leaving the bubble of education can be the feeling of ‘you’re on your own’. But I didn’t fear this. If anything, at twenty something I felt pretty indestructible, as life hadn’t hit me with its best shot yet. I would attend countless auditions, get knocked back time and time again, and be told ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’. I got a part-time job in retail to subsidize the dream. I would have my heart broken once or twice to help me realise the harsh realities of being with an artist, and the lack of stability that came with. Across the way, I would see my friends setting up their lives working in finance, medicine, or engineering. The feeling of ‘not enough’ started to seep through but I kept moving forward no matter how small the steps were.

Sagar in character for ‘The Good Karma Hospital’, taken by Tiger Aspect

Stints in theatre, commercials and small TV appearances followed. Momentarily I went to work for a marketing firm in Leicester Square, when the pressure of no acting work became too much.

This hiatus gave me just the break I needed, and I came back fresh and ready to go for round two. I started attending classes, adjusted my look, read book after book and hit the industry harder. But also smarter.

I felt rewarded when I got a chance to perform on the West End stage at the Trafalgar Studios in a play called The Spoils, alongside Academy Award nominated Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), TV star Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) and Olivier Award winner, Katie Brayben. #ImposterSyndromeAlert.

This was swiftly followed by a regular role in an ITV Sunday night drama, The Good Karma Hospital which I would go on to do for three seasons as I write this.

More recently I got to work with the holy-grail of television companies, HBO. Industry, which is currently showing on BBC iPlayer for UK audiences, was a chance to move away from my character on The Good Karma Hospital and I was grateful to get the opportunity to work with a fantastic team and the next generation of actors coming through to take the world by storm.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Having never attended a traditional drama school you can’t help but feel like you’ve missed out on formal training. The London theatre scene is world renowned and respected. So, to get the opportunity to tread the boards of a London theatre, for me, has been the most rewarding experience.

To share the stage with the actors I did in The Spoils was surprising at first. Why me? Which actors said no before it came to me? All the standard imposter syndrome thoughts! I remember messing up a couple of lines on my first performance and like the pro’s they are, Alfie Allen and Jesse Eisenberg saved the day. The interval was basically me thanking them, like a fan at the stage door.

Working with our New York based director, Scott Elliott taught me a lot. He demanded the best and would push your buttons to deliver the performance he needed. Four months of working alongside him was both educational and rewarding, and I don’t think he will truly realise the impact he had on me unless our paths cross again.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to acting?

I think the biggest challenges you can face as an actor are the uncertainly and rejection. It’s a timeless classic that this career warns you about. However, if you know deep inside that you can’t see yourself doing anything else, then you’ll know deep inside THIS is where you need to be. It’s one of the few industries that is not a meritocracy. You can be the best actor on earth and still not get the gig. Therefore, all you can do is be the best you can be, and that consistency will hopefully see you though. Add a bit of luck and a break and you can make a career out of it.

I’ve been extremely lucky with some of the breaks I’ve had and I put it all down to perseverance. My ability to take the L [loss] and keep moving is my biggest strength. Whether it be an audition that didn’t go my way, a bad performance, friends or family questioning my choices, or any number of a hundred deterrents, I never let it get me down for too long.

I think it’s also important to mention that as a person of colour in the entertainment industry, the lack of roles is clear to see. This is one of the biggest challenges to exist. I’m trying to be the change I want to see, and I’ve done that by starting a podcast called Rule Not The Exception. It’s a podcast that champions and celebrates the journeys of people from a minority background within entertainment, fitness, arts and beyond. We’re very much an inclusive podcast with exclusive guests so please go and check it out!

Why did you start your podcast?

I started my podcast Rule Not The Exception alongside my co-host Amrita Acharia (The Sister, Good Karma Hospital) as a way to celebrate and ignite honest conversations with people from all different backgrounds. We found there was a gap in the market for conversations with people of colour and people from minority backgrounds, and with our platform as actors we could hopefully attract guests to come on and talk about their experiences. To date we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have guests such as Ruth Madeley, Nabhaan Rizwan, Mandip Gill, Himesh Patel, Anjli Mohindra, and Eleanor Matsuura, to name a few.

 What topics can listeners expect you to cover?

We’ve found what works for us is trying to let the conversation flow in a natural direction. That way it can feel more like an authentic chat, which is really important to us, so the guest can feel as comfortable as possible. Ultimately, we want to cover themes such as representation and inclusivity so, we do bring up how that may have affected them throughout their careers, both positively or negatively. Our USP is to acknowledge our guest’s accomplishments, and as people from minority backgrounds ourselves, we want to provide that platform for people who don’t always have the opportunity to do so.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

I started during a time where the power of the internet was nowhere near what it is today. My advice is to use that to your advantage. If you want to be an actor, filmmaker, writer, producer or anything related to the entertainment industry, there has never been a better time to get your product to market. The quality of mobiles phones is nuts, the ability to reach millions of people at the click of a button is mind-blowing, and the reliance on conventional routes into the industry are becoming a thing of the past. You can film your performance or make your own movie and distribute it yourself. If the product is good enough, it will attract the attention of the right people.

Another piece of advice is to try and explore different skill sets. As well as an actor, I’m also a writer and podcaster. Find what your strengths are and build on those. It doesn’t have to always been within the same field, but don’t underestimate a side hustle. It can help give you longevity!

 

Find Sagar on Twitter and Instagram

Rule Not The Exception Podcast is available across all podcast platforms @rulenottheexception

Industry airs on Tuesday nights, BBC2, 9:15pm or BBC iPlayer.

High-flyer

Alumni Stories, Black History Month, Oct 2020.

As a black female pilot you could say Faith Odushola-Boegheim (Air Transport Management, 2013) is defying gravity; contributing to the reimagining of an industry that was typically male-dominated. Faith has had her fair share of doubtful passengers but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams. Here she talks about her experiences as a pilot, the impact of the pandemic and being part of a different narrative for black people.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

It was quite an exciting time. I was accepted into City based on merits (points for my professional qualification, years of experience and hours flown as a pilot) and since I had never been to the university as most people would have, acquiring an Honours degree before the MSc. programme, I thought it to be a daunting task. As much as I loved the challenge, my first two classes at City were intense. Fellow classmates were very active and participated in discussions and team activities and I felt lost as I could not follow or comprehend what was being said and I struggled to make any contributions. I did not give up though.

I had the opportunity and great privilege to have studied under the guidance of the late Prof. Roger Wootton. He was very helpful and gave me insights and advice on how to prepare and engage in research. He shared lots of links and books that I could read up in advance, websites I could get data from, and direction for how to complete my coursework. I was also able to connect with other students who were more than willing to share their understanding of the subjects. It took a bit of hard work but soon I saw myself more active in the classes and in group activities. With support from my family, I graduated in 2013 with merit, surprising even myself.

What happened after you graduated?

After I graduated, my bosses supported me and encouraged my personal growth. This was a huge benefit for me and a sort ‘Industrial Training’; I was now able to see in practice all I had learnt at City.  I was involved with non-flying roles such as an Auditing, Fleet Planning and Safety. I conducted several audits within the company and was part of the team that worked to achieve a successful IOSA certification. I investigated incidents and occurrences and worked with the Quality Manager and other team members to improve and maintain a high standard of safety within the company. Those were years of great progression in my life.

When did you decide to become a pilot?

My father is a pilot and even though a part of me considered it, I felt it was too expensive, we could not afford it, and it was not a suitable profession for a woman. I had just written my exams to study medicine at university. My father came home and spoke highly about a female pilot he had just flown with. At that moment I stopped burying that part of me that considered being a pilot and started to talk about it as much as I previously talked about being a doctor. My parents supported me completely and that was it. I think I was about 15 years old.

What has been the most rewarding experience in becoming a pilot?

Being a pilot entails discipline and responsibility. You are not just responsible to yourself or the company you work for but also to your entire team and the passengers you fly. For me it is not only about getting the job done, but also seeing the satisfaction on a passenger’s face having arrived at their destination safely, and their expression when they find out one or both pilots are female – priceless!

Flying exposes you to people and places. It makes you see the world from a different and more beautiful perspective. I cannot pinpoint a particular experience that was most rewarding as there are so many. This job brings joy and inspiration, not just to myself but to other people too and that is probably most rewarding of all.

Have you faced any challenges as a black female pilot? Or as a pilot generally?

Being a pilot is a predominantly male occupation and so as a female, it was not an ‘open-arms’ welcome from everyone. In my earlier years, some passengers had their reservations and refused to be flown by a female. My cabin crew friends personally told me they have had to convince some passengers before they decided to board the plane. Others were super impressed and wanted a picture with the ‘female’ pilot.

In the work environment, you pretty much have to work twice as hard to prove yourself. It is not enough to be okay or good enough. A male and a female with the same level of proficiency up for a promotion, the male is always chosen first. As a female, you really have to be far better to make sure you are not ignored and even that is no guarantee. When you ask questions, depending on the culture, you receive more negative attention because you are expected to stay silent. Overall, it is mostly positive nowadays; I have had supporters in my corner, people coming to my defence, but I wouldn’t say it was a walk in the park.

As a black female, I would say, look around you, I know that the percentage of female pilots around the world is already low, with the highest in India and parts of Africa but how many black female pilots do we have in Europe? How many of them are captains?

How has the pandemic impacted your industry and your role specifically?

This pandemic has turned out to be the worst blow to have hit all sectors and areas of the world and most especially the travel and airline industry. I was in the middle of a job change when Covid-19 happened. I had successfully completed an assessment for a new job in January and was supposed to start in the second quarter of the year but due to the pandemic, it is on hold. So many friends and colleagues have been furloughed and are working or searching for jobs in non-aviation sectors now, just to make ends meet. I am having to source ways to maintain my proficiency and it is quite amazing to see the support pilots are giving each other in these times.

It took me a long time to find a way, and not without help from a complete stranger. In the meantime, I have also engaged in online studies and research to improve my non-aviation knowledge and skills and even though the times are horribly challenging, a few good and personal developments have emerged from it.

What does Black History Month mean to you? Do you have any heroes? 

Growing up in Nigeria, Black History Month was not something I was aware of. Of course, we have our heroes and role models that makes me proud of being a Nigerian but moving to Europe I began to pay more attention, especially after my kids, on separate occasions, told me they didn’t want to be black anymore. When we look at Black history, in Africa, America and the rest of the world, they were known first for being victims of slavery and oppression but, in strength, emerging out of that to achieve illimitable and prestigious successes and roles.

The media and society mostly associate black people with violence, drugs and criminal activities. When a black person succeeds, they quantify his or her blackness making them not black enough. I actively tell my children about the likes of Daniel Hale Williams and Shirley Chislom. People like President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfery, Chimamanda Adichie, Serena Williams, International economic expert Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, world bank VP Oby Ezekwesili, fashion icon Deola Sagoe, 787 Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, Airforce Major Mandisa Mfeka, astronaut Mae Jemison, media entrepreneur Mo Abudu, and many more. I know I have mentioned a lot more females, but I’m mostly inspired by people of my gender, as that is a levelled playing field.

We need to change the perspective of the world, starting from home, about the image of ‘black’.  Teaching our children that being black doesn’t make you a second-class citizen, being black doesn’t mean people clench their bags when you pass by, being black is not all drugs and crime. Being black is strength and power and riches and achieving the biggest implausible dreams you can dream of.

My biggest hero in all of this is my dad, Captain Odushola. Not just for being my role model but also for teaching me to take it to the next generation.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Believe in your own dreams and persevere. Being the best version of yourself or being wherever you want to be will take some commitment and hard work to achieve and it usually won’t come without some obstacles. But have a little faith, be ready to push through and persevere for as many times as it is necessary, and you will overcome. Someone once said to me there was no path to her dreams anymore as she was too old. My answer; create your own path to your dreams. If you are not able to achieve your dream, with all the skills and knowledge you have acquired, you might find more joy in helping others achieve theirs.

 

Contactless mobile menu

Alumni Stories.

Noticing “significant operational inefficiencies in restaurants, pubs and bars”,  City Launch Labber Joel Satchi (Executive MBA, 2020) envisioned a business which would make ordering food and making payments quicker for customers. With this determination, Emenunow.com – the only plug and play mobile ordering and payments service for hospitality – was born. 

We caught up with Joel recently to find out more about his new business and how his time at City encouraged him to take this step…

Can you tell me about your time at the Business School?

I spent a lot of time focusing on all that City had to offer with respect to entrepreneurship support and was involved with City Launch Lab, as well as the entrepreneurial modules offered in the MBA. I met my business partner as a result of the network I built through the MBA. The group trips to China, Silicon Valley and Vietnam showed me how fast hospitality-tech was being adopted across the world and inspired me to commit to developing a hospitality-tech business in the UK sooner rather than later.

What happened after you graduated?

I developed Emenunow.com, a hospitality-tech business that enables hospitality venues to virtually publish their bespoke branded menus, accept orders and payments for sit-in dining, collection and delivery using existing hardware that is faster and cheaper and more scalable than any other solution on the market.

Tell us how the idea for EMenuNow came about?

I spent a lot of time as a consultant working away from home and noticed significant operational inefficiencies in restaurants, pubs and bars, which resulted in them taking too long for ordering and payments, so I wanted to develop a solution to resolve this. My research identified that venues really disliked big brands like Deliveroo due to high costs and lack of brand personalisation. For example, on Deliveroo you are just another venue grouped with the many venues in your area and your branding is lost. The venues wanted their own virtual presence that was very personalised so that they could control more of the customer journey with respect to ordering, payments and loyalty without the high fees.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The connections I made at City have directly resulted in my business being launched. The most rewarding experience was watching our first client accept ordering and payments going through our system.

What has been the biggest challenge with launching EMenuNow?

The mass influx of competitors due to COVID-19 has meant that we have had to quickly differentiate our product. We have now re-positioned ourselves as the only company that can integrate with any existing system, meaning in some cases, we are the only company that can provide an integrated ordering and payment solution. For other venues, we can save thousands of pounds and have our system installed in days vs weeks compared to our competitors.

How can other people get involved?

If you know of a new restaurant, pub or bar that would benefit from working with EMenuNow, I am offering £50 for referrals. Also, if anyone would like to invest in the company, I’d be delighted to hear from you. If interested in either of these opportunities or would simply like to find out more, please email me at: joel@emenunow.com.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

There is nothing more rewarding than starting your own business and seeing it being used by customers. If you have a passion to start a business and have an idea, try and make a very cheap version of your solution and test it with potential customers before committing. Always make sure you are making something that customers want before you invest heavily.

Watch this advert or download this flyer to find out more about EMenuNow! 

Thanks to Joel for taking the time to chat to us.

Adventurer, business woman and friend for life – Tribute to Jean Liggett (MBA Marketing, 1988)

Alumni Tributes.

Jean at an Alumni Gathering in Monaco (2014)

By Hélène Pelloux and Jocelyn Senior
(MBA Marketing, 1988)

We are very sad to share the news that Jean Liggett, a classmate from the Business School at City, has passed away from an illness which she had fought for a number of years. Originally from Ohio and having worked for Ogilvy in New York City, we first met her when she came to London to study at the business school. Always interested in people and in sharing energetic discussions, she established friendships that were to endure long after we were students.

After completing the MBA, she went to Peterborough to work in market research for the magazine publishers, Emap. She decided to settle down in London and founded a property business, Properties of the World. As head of Properties of the World she employed a growing team and worked with clients internationally. She loved being in such a vibrant, international city and being part of Europe. Being able to visit the continent so easily was one of her great joys and she particularly loved Paris and everything French. She loved to explore – landscapes, cultures, food, art and design and fashion. Both of us have wonderful memories of trips with her. One trip that particularly stands out for me (Jocelyn) was to the Italian Lakes and the Veneto, staying on Lake Como and visiting Bellagio and Mantua.

She always wanted to learn, to keep building new skills and to be engaged in what was happening in the world. She was passionate about politics and our future (both in the US and the UK) and even when she was having treatments, she found the energy to get involved.

She also felt a strong connection with the Business School, attending the alumni events in Monaco and London, donating and helping to raise funds.

She will be sorely missed for her curiosity, energy and warmth. Our deepest condolences to Misha, the husband she leaves behind, and her family in the US.

Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020

Alumni Notice Board.

Each year, the Queen’s Birthday Honours list recognises the achievements and services of people across the UK, from all walks of life. City is delighted to announce and congratulate our ten alumni and staff who have been recognised for their commitment to various services in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List 2020.

Professor Caroline Alexander   
Group Chief Nursing Officer
Barts Health NHS Trust
Honorary Doctor of Science, 2017
CBE for services to Nursing

Ms Natalie Campbell
Chief Executive Officer
Blu Water Ltd
PG Dip Television Current Affairs Journalism, 2009
MBE for services to Social Entrepreneurship and Business

Ms Carrie A Deacon
Head of Social Action Innovation
NESTA
MSc Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, 2014
MBE for services to Social Action during Covid-19

Mr Thomas M Drew
Head of Counter Terrorism
Faculty
MA Newspaper Journalism, 2008
OBE for public service

Mr Alan R McCarthy
Chairman
Western Sussex Hospitals
MBA Engineering Management, 1991
MBE for services to the NHS

Ms Una McCrann
Speciality Lead Feeding Disorder Practitioner
Great Ormond Street NHS Hospital for Children
Dip Nursing, 2000
MBE for services to Nursing

Rabbi David Meyer
Executive Director
Partnership for Jewish Schools
MBA Marketing MBA, 1992
OBE for services to Education

Ms Neeta Patel
CEO
New Entrepreneurs Foundation
MBA Marketing 1995
CBE for services to Entrepreneurship and Technology

Mr Graham A Race
Accessible Aviation Expert
Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People
PG Dip Voluntary Sector Management, 2003
MBE for services to Overcoming Disability Barriers in Aviation

Professor Lorna Woods
Professor of Internet Law
University Of Essex
Former Staff
OBE For services to Internet Safety Policy

Message from Professor Paolo Volpin, Dean, The Business School (formerly Cass) – October 2020

Business School Dean's Update.

Paolo

I hope that you, your family and friends are well and safe in these difficult times.

Here at Bunhill Row in London, we have been welcoming our new and returning students to the start of the new academic year. While this year will look and feel different and while much of learning will be online at the beginning, we are determined to provide our students with the best education and student experience possible. We have put measures in place to make our campus Covid secure, enabling us safely to deliver some small group, in-person teaching. This blended approach puts us in a strong position to move quickly to deliver more education remotely should restrictions tighten, either nationally or locally. In the future, when restrictions ease, we will be able gradually to expand our on-campus activities safely.

This also means that, for now, physical access to campus has to be tightly managed and is currently restricted to small groups of staff and students. It is my hope and wish that we can soon welcome our alumni as well as all staff and students back to campus.

As you know, the process for renaming our Business School started during the summer, will continue with Council approving the new name in the spring and will end with its launch in September 2021. Alumni, students and staff will have the opportunity to contribute to the name finding process as part of a wide consultation with all stakeholder groups, nationally and internationally. As you may have seen, in the interim we are using the name ‘The Business School (formerly Cass)’ with the additional strap line ‘Changing more than a name’ to signal our commitment to the name change and the wider changes we will be making.

If you have any questions about this process, please see answers to the FAQs here.

After eleven successful years at City, our President, Professor Sir Paul Curran, will be standing down as President in the summer. We thank Sir Paul for his leadership and his dedicated service to our community.

Professor Anthony Finkelstein CBE FREng has been appointed the new President. He will join City next year from his position as the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security. Previously, he was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and Head Computer Science at University College London. I am looking forward to working with him.

Throughout October, City is hosting a series of events to mark and explore the meaning and importance of Black History Month. You can find out more about our events programme and sign up here.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to our new graduates, who have recently joined our global alumni network. To our new alumni and to you all, stay safe and I send you my best wishes for the months ahead.

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Best wishes,
Paolo

Professor Paolo Volpin
Dean of the Business School

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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