Blogs

City Alumni Network

Tamara Hasan (Banking and International Finance, 2003) takes home prestigious prize at alumni awards in Qatar

Alumni Stories.

Tamara Hasan

 

When a close friend suffered an injury and wasn’t able to find a quality physiotherapy clinic, Tamara Hasan (Banking and International Finance, 2003) decided it was time to take action and raise the standards of healthcare in Qatar by opening her own clinic.

Having opened The International Physiotherapy Clinic in 2015, Tamara continued to expand her business by opening a second branch, as well as a third clinic, The International Medical Centre. This commitment to provide the highest level of medical care to the local community has rightfully earned Tamara the Entrepreneurial Award at the Study UK Alumni Awards in Qatar.

Following the awards, we caught up with Tamara to find out more…

Can you tell me about your time at Cass and what happened after you graduated?

It was a very long time ago but I have very fond memories of the University, the people I met and who can forget the student union!

Once, I graduated, I completed an internship with Lehman Brothers, which was a great experience. Fresh out of university and working with highly intelligent individuals! Following this, I then joined their graduate scheme and the rest of this as they say, is history!

Nomura then took over Lehman Brothers and I continued working there on the proprietary trading desk, trading equities globally for the portfolio managers. It was one of the most intensive jobs I have ever had, but one in which I will never forget. It taught me to be accurate, determined and definitely no pushover! In 2014, I got married and moved to Doha, where I set up my own healthcare business.

 

Yes, please tell us about how your business was born?

Unfortunately, a few years back my friend broke his arm while on a desert safari. After the incident, he really struggled to find a quality physiotherapy clinic in Doha and contemplated moving back to the UK for treatment.

So, I knew change was needed, and that is when I chose to open The International Physiotherapy Clinic in 2015. A year on from that, I opened a second branch and then another clinic with GP doctors, The International Medical Centre, to continue improving the health standards in Qatar.

 

What have been the most rewarding and challenging aspects of opening your own business?

There are many rewarding aspects to opening your own business, however with healthcare it is more tangible. What has been most rewarding is knowing that the clinic has been able to directly impact the local community by rehabilitating people from various injuries – anything from minor to chronic. These are people that previously travelled abroad for high quality care, or lived silently in pain.

I would say that the most challenging aspect of opening your own business is all the paperwork! There are lots of rules, regulations and ministries to deal with, and often the information required is not easily accessible. It has required a lot of hard work, and of course patience!

 

Well it certainly seems like you’ve been very successful. Congratulations on winning Entrepreneurial Award at the Study UK Alumni Awards!

From a very young age, my dad instilled in me the saying ‘education, education, education!’ That is the one thing that no one can take away from you and he really pushed my sister, brother and I by putting us in top schools in the UK. It was this education that allowed me to go onto complete my university degree at Cass Business School and set the foundations of what was soon to be my career in banking.

Having moved to Qatar and set up something totally out of my comfort zone and unrelated to my 10-year banking career, it has been a dream to win the Study UK Alumni award. Especially as Doha is actually my birth place, so to be able to give back to the local community and help improve people’s health in Doha has made it even more special. I also felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to study in the UK and now represent my university, Cass, for all the doors it has opened for me.

 

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

There will be people who will tell you your goals are impossible or put doubts in your mind that things are possible. My advice? Don’t listen! Keep pushing yourself and give it a go – you would be surprised how far drive, hard work and common sense get you.

 

Now for some quick fire questions:

Where is your favourite place in London?
Has to be Covent Garden. The cobbled streets, the market stands and who can forget, Ben’s Cookies!

What is your favourite holiday destination (that you’ve travelled to)?
Beijing

Which website do you check every day? 
BBC News

What is your dream travel destination?
Africa on a safari

Do you prefer cheese or chocolate?
Chocolate – hands down!

To find out more, visit https://theipcentre.com/ and https://theimcentre.com/ and follow the team on Facebook and Instagram: theipcentre & theimcentre.

Photo credit: British Council Qatar

Helping women take control of their finances

Alumni Stories.

After starting a career in investment management, Davinia Tomlinson (Executive MBA, 2017), soon realised that the number of women actually investing in their future was considerably low. Noticing a gap in the market for a financial advice service for women, Davinia recently launched rainchq.

Here you can read about Davinia’s time at Cass Business School and how rainchq is supporting women with making financial decisions for themselves and their families.  

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

I originally embarked on the Executive MBA because I’d become frustrated with corporate life and felt that I wasn’t really fulfilling my potential. I was desperate to run my own business but lacked the confidence, the resources and the the understanding of how businesses worked.

This is why I chose to study at Cass. I knew it would provide me with access to the university’s outstanding academic and professional networks both in the UK and overseas, while also encouraging me to build relationships that would stand the test of time. I’m pleased to say that my experiences at Cass are among some of my most rewarding and memorable.

The modular programme was particularly attractive because it enabled me to juggle work, study and motherhood simultaneously and gave me an insight into how far I could stretch myself in meeting multiple different commitments. I couldn’t have selected a better launchpad for my transition into entrepreneurship.

What happened after you graduated?

By graduation, I was pregnant with my second child so I went on maternity leave a few weeks later. During this time, my thinking around a concept – that would eventually become rainchq – had started to crystallise.

I began the process of fleshing out the idea in more detail and testing it with colleagues, friends and family. Over a year later and having pivoted the business model twice before launching, rainchq opened for business to help women take control of their financial futures.

How did rainchq come about?

The idea for rainchq came to me shortly after I started my career in the investment management industry over a decade ago. I was shocked by the low numbers of women investing and couldn’t understand why. With data showing that women typically save up to 3 times less than men do for later life and a gender pension gap in the UK of 40%, there was a real opportunity to make a difference to how women plan for the future.

My vision is to help millions of UK women take control of their financial future and ultimately, prevent pensioner poverty through a 3 pillar service. We offer:

  • financial education – designed to demystify the world of investing and unravel the jargon the industry is renowned for
  • access to qualified and regulated financial advice, delivered via video conferences to maximise accessibility to women across the country
  • events focused on all aspects of holistic wellbeing, from financial through to physical

What have been the biggest challenges?

As a bootstrapped business, financed through savings as well as support from family, one of the biggest challenges of course is funding.

Aside from this, there was also a small minority group of people who questioned the validity of a financial services business focused exclusively on women. Some of the feedback I received during the research process, primarily from women, was that I was at risk of alienating or isolating them even further. My response to this is: for many of the population, the current approach to financial services, at least in the UK, excludes many women through poorly targeted communications, inaccessible services and a more masculine and aggressive approach overall.

rainchq is designed to tackle some of these issues by creating a service designed to meet the, arguably, distinctive financial needs of 50% of the population, who have historically been ignored.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The best part of this journey for me was the research process. During this time, I met dozens of women in focus groups, conducted scores of one-to-one interviews and received survey feedback, which helped me to validate the business idea and gave me greater confidence that there might be a gap in the market for a service like this.

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

Surround yourself with a positive, supportive group of like-minded people who can help keep you upbeat during the inevitable slumps but who can also offer constructive feedback on things you can improve. I would also encourage anyone in a similar position to ensure that they have a good financial safety net before they leave paid employment so they don’t have to worry about paying the bills in the first year. And finally – however long you think it will take to get the business off the ground, double it! Patience is a much needed virtue in this process.

Now for some quick fire questions:

Where is your favourite place in London?
Greenwich Park

What is your favourite holiday destination (that you’ve travelled to)?
Thailand

Which website do you check every day? 
Financial Times

What is your dream travel destination?
Anywhere in the Caribbean

Do you prefer cheese or chocolate?
Chocolate!

To find out more, visit rainchq.com and follow the team on all social media platforms @rainchq

Scholar Spotlight: Christian Klotz (Management, 2016)

Scholar Spotlight.

Christian Klotz is a recipient of the Sandhu Charitable Foundation Scholarship. Here he talks about the impact the scholarship has had:

I decided that I wanted to stay in London for university as my family and closest friends were all based there, as well as London being a great city to experience life as student. Having looked at the various business schools, Cass business school stood out to me due to its strong reputation in the UK, and also its established connection with large companies and industries in London. A key outcome from university is being able to get a good job at the end to start your career, which is why I felt that network would add a lot of value.

The Sandhu scholarship that I received made a massive difference to my time at University. My parents have never had a very large income, and receiving this scholarship meant that I did not have to feel that I should reach out to my parents for financial support, and also made me feel much more at ease knowing that I would be leaving university with a much smaller student debt. As a result, I did not feel pressure to be working many hours in a part-time job to support myself financially while at University. This allowed me to focus my energy on my studies, and I ended up receiving the highest BSc Management 1st year average, as well as coming in the top 10% of students in my second and third year of study.

The scholarship also made it possible for me to spend my second year of university abroad in America, at one of Cass business schools exchange partners, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The various opportunities that Cass offers are incredible, they allow you to add something unique to your CV that can differentiate you against others in a very competitive jobs market. This year abroad has been very well received in subsequent interviews that I had, and helped me to develop my understanding of different cultures and backgrounds which I am now interacting with every day in my work.

Another huge benefit of receiving this scholarship was the opportunity to meet several times with Bim and Pardeep, who offered the scholarship. They have a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of students who require support. In a way, they acted as mentors for me throughout my university years, and we continue to stay in contact even now, almost two years after graduating.

I am now working at Barclays HQ in London, on the Human Resources graduate programme. I have had a number of challenging and rewarding rotations already in various divisions of the bank including HR business partnering (Investment Bank and Group Risk team), and I am currently in the central Performance Management team. The skills and knowledge that I gained at Cass business school have helped me to perform to a high standard in my rotations so far, and the network of friends that I built during university will continue to be a strong presence in my work and social life. I am very grateful for my time at Cass business school, and for having received the Sandhu Scholarship, and hope that one day I’ll be in a position to offer something similar to students in a similar situation to me. 

SPOTLIGHT: Despina Afentouli (ΜΑ International Journalism, 2004)

Alumni Stories.

Our alumni are really amazing and we want to share their achievements with the world! In the SPOTLIGHT this month is Despina Afentouli (ΜΑ International Journalism, 2004)

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I did my Master’s degree in International Journalism at “The City University London”, as it was then called.

I chose the broadcast (radio) path and I remember that every week, under the guidance of our professors, Mike Gandon and Christabel King, we had to prepare a radio package to be broadcasted live on City University’s radio station. It was a unique experience, as we were working as journalists under real pressure conditions. I also I gained work-experience at London Greek Radio and BBC Greek Division.

Many important journalists and experts taught us and visited the City University Department of Journalism, including Roy Greenslade and Mark Bryane from The Dart Europe.

I remember the international news professor, Roger Tooze and how his effective teaching approach made me re-consider my perception about the world.

My thesis supervisor Lis Howell provided me with a great moral and professional support.

Tell us about your journey in journalism?

After I graduated, I stayed in London for my doctoral research on the British Press at the British Library and gained work experience at CNN International. In 2006, I moved back to Athens to work on my Ph.D. thesis. Whilst also continuing to work as a journalist.

I worked for media, such as ANT1 TV, Τouristiki Agora magazine, and Economist-Intelligent Life magazine. I also served as a special advisor at the Press Office and Public Relations for the Ministry of Education, LongLife Learning and Religious Affairs in Greece.

Since 2012, I have taught as a professor in Journalism and Social Sciences for the Open University of Cyprus, the Technological Educational Institute of Athens, the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, the University of Wolverhampton/College of Professional Journalism – to name a few.

For about eight years, I served as a City Council Member of Dionyssos City and then, as a Regional Member of the Attica Region in Athens, Greece. I was the youngest and the only woman elected in the local parties I was a candidate with.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to your idea/business?

The biggest challenge I faced as a journalist is working overseas. But this experience helped me to adjust quickly to new cultural environments, create context for international audiences and diverse communities, and build strong professional relationships.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

One of the most rewarding experiences was when I received my PhD degree in Sociology in 2010 and then, in 2012, when I published my doctoral thesis as a book entitled, “The position of the British Press in the Greek-Turkish relations, 1955-1965” in Greece.

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

If I could give an advice, it would be this; be authentic, honest, fair, and objective to the best of your abilities. Time reveals the truth. Be the one who foresaw, discovered, and defended it.

Migration Made Easy

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

Tripti Maheshwari (Finance, 2015) recently won the ‘International alumni of the year’ award at The Pie PIEoneer Awards. Now her platform Student Circus has been selected as one of the businesses to participate in the Mayor of London’s International Business Growth Programme. We caught up with Tripti to hear more about Student Circus and why students, universities and employers should watch this space.

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

I had a few offers from different universities after I completed my degree at Lancaster but all of my professors said you should go to Cass for finance. Coming from an Economics degree and reading about what Cass has done, it was a no-brainer to say ‘let’s do it’. The masters is so industry relevant. They get experts who are working in the industry to teach you. It is not only academia and research, it is very very practical. It was the best time ever.

What happened graduation?

Soon after graduating I realised that I wanted a job. I finally landed an internship with a start up in Soho in London. They wanted to have me full time but I couldn’t because of my issues with my visa issues and that’s where the idea came up.  I wanted to know why is it so difficult to find a job if you’re skilled and only your visa is a problem. Apparently because of a lack of a direct way to apply international students and graduates have been applying for the wrong jobs. Out of desperation we focused on quantity – how many applications have we sent out today – rather than understanding where to apply and who would sponsor.

How did you set up Student Circus?

We did three months of market research, made a business plan, did panel interviews. Oliver from the Cass Entrepreneurship fund helped us to break down and focus more clearly on our business idea. We also got in touch with the City team and we were offered a place at the City Launch Lab incubation space. We got so much support from how to deal with people, who to contact, how to sell your platform, and soon after Cass was one of our first clients.

How does Student Circus work?

The core of the platform is information about which jobs should you apply for versus which ones you shouldn’t. We get in touch with employers and verify with them whether or not they are using their license to sponsor for graduates and what criteria they have in place. We’ve built a customer algorithm on the platform which basically aggregates these jobs. It works like Sky Scanner. On Sky Scanner you find the cheapest flights, on Student Circus you can find the jobs which would sponsor and you can filter them based on industry or location. Students and graduates sign up using their university email ID and are able to access the jobs platform, do their applications and do their application management. We’ve also got features like immigration assistant; we have partnered with a legal company in London. Our features center around the user journey of a student. Because we went through it, we understand our user so well, and so we know where to plug the gaps. We call ourselves a seamless extension to careers resources. But we always welcome feedback, so every university that comes on board have full rights to ask for new features included in that cost that they are paying. They are building the platform with us essentially so it’s very user-driven.

Where is Student Circus based? 

We’re a UK based company but we outsource a lot of our work to different parts of the world.  Some of the team are based in the city I come from, Jaipur in Rajasthan in India. We’ve also got some content writers, who are primarily students across the globe and we take a lot of contribution from alumni. So it’s pretty much all over the world.

What has been the biggest challenge in setting up Student Circus?

I think the biggest challenge we face is perception. issue. The moment that we tell people that we have a jobs platform and a skill-building platform for international students, they ask ‘why would you do that, students don’t get jobs’. But this is absolutely false because students do get jobs and companies are ready to hire them, as long as they fit the criteria.  Also students think ‘why should I apply, it’s so difficult to get a job’. It is difficult but it’s not impossible. Even if you’re a home student, it’s equally difficult to find a job these days. It takes 4-6 months for any graduate and as an international student you get only 4 months on your visa after you finish your degree. That’s not really enough. So you need to get it right from the very beginning. So I think enforcing that message again and again is the biggest challenge.

What has been the most rewarding part of it?

The fact that we’re able to help. As a student I would have wanted this and now we’re able to help those who are so talented, who come in with such high hopes and aspirations, and they finally have a gateway to make it happen. The moment we hear someone has got a job or got accepted, it’s like the best day ever.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start up their own business?

I think what I’ve learnt and what I really tell others is you really have to step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t help to search on Google, you have to get in touch with people. You may feel they won’t answer but the worst thing they’ll do is say no. But if you don’t ask you don’t get and we often say that we’ve become shameless in asking for things because that’s the only way to get what you want. Unless people know that you need something, you’ll never get it so that’s the one thing we follow, just ask, ask, ask until you get it.

What are the next steps for Student Circus? 

We are currently fundraising to take us to the next level. Last year we had four universities as partners, this year we have almost 25. It’s a huge increase and a huge responsibility to deliver. We‘re also launching a job readiness platform very soon. It’s called Ignis by Student Circus which will essentially prepare a student. I think there is still a large gap in the readiness of a student to apply for these jobs and on our journey we’ve met experts in their fields. So we want to bring them all to our platform and create learning content and job readiness content. And if anyone from outside the UK, wants to come to the UK market, they have to understand how it works. So we want to create the international mobility community but make it very information friendly and accessible. And hopefully, in the next 2 years, we are planning a launch in Australia. So those will be the next steps.

Exercising Ethically

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

In the dawn of the paper straw and the reusable coffee cup, it’s no surprise that Gareth Evans (MBA, 2017) and his business partner Joe Lines, saw a gap in the market for truly sustainable, high performing, ethical activewear. Here Gareth tells the story of his new venture Peak+Flow; activewear that is kind to the earth but tough enough for your weekly HITT session.

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

When I decided to study an MBA, I had a very clear goal of leaving my career in sales, and wanted to develop a deeper understanding of how businesses work. I didn’t know what field I wanted to move into precisely, but I felt that an MBA would help me to explore my options.

Cass Business School ticked all the right boxes for me due to its excellent London location, which was near my work and home. Plus, the fact that it offered an Executive MBA programme allowed me to fit study around my busy work schedule.

What happened after you graduated?

The day I handed in my Business Mastery Project, my company changed my role, so I achieved my aim of getting out of sales on the very day I finished the programme; a brilliant return on my investment.

Since then I have, along with my business partner, gone on to grow a consulting practice and also to launch a new sustainable activewear company, Peak+Flow.

How did Peak+Flow come about?

Gareth and Joe

 

Peak+Flow was born out of three simple realisations which developed over time:

Most activewear was created using materials that were damaging to the planet. Our options were to either buy from established brands who occasionally pay lip-service to sustainability, or end up with hessian-type clothing which didn’t perform.

Secondly, we saw activewear as a category being dragged increasingly towards fast-fashion: resulting in clothing that was over logo-ed, over-designed and released faster than necessary to the consumer. Not everyone wants to walk around advertising a brand in fluorescent yellow.

Lastly, we spent time researching brands and companies manufacturing activewear and found a lack of transparency and purpose. We believe many consumers see through the gigantic advertising budgets and would like to see a company delivering on values that people care deeply about.

The result of these was both of us asking how would you build a company that would ethically create sustainable clothing.

What has been the biggest challenge?

We knew when we set out it was going to be very challenging, and it still is.

While sustainability and ethical manufacturing are being discussed more and more today, when we started out two years ago it wasn’t so common. It was a challenge trying to find suppliers and partners that met the standards required, while we are selves were trying to establish our principles at the same time as learning about the industry. Quality and function have always been paramount but equal to sustainability and ethical production.

It is challenging as a new business to find partners that will work with you, and you multiply that when your demands surpass that of nearly everyone in the industry.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Seeing the response that people have had to the brand, both online and at the trade shows we have done. Hearing people tell us that this is what they have been waiting for is very rewarding after a 2-year journey.

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

It is going to take longer than you think, and that is ok.

Enjoy the journey and realise that no one wants it to go as quickly as you do.

 

Peak+Flow is currently fundraising via Kickstarter. To find out more and support the cause, please visit: kck.st/2Rn1Jzh

You can also follow them on Instagram: @peakandflow

 

The Eye Protector

Alumni Stories.

Dhruvin Patel (Optometry, 2015) is City’s very own super hero. His power? Protecting your eyes from harmful blue light. But this isn’t a mission he’s embarking on alone. Enter fellow alumnus, serial entrepreneur and chief supporter Asad Hamir (Optometry, 2007). We spoke to Dhruvin and Asad about what brought them together, and their hopes of become the leader in digital eye health awareness’.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

Dhruvin: I studied Optometry and graduated in 2015 from the School of Health and Sciences. Although I had already been living in London, university at City was a big part of my life with so many great experiences and the chance to meet so many amazing people. I took a lot away from my time at City.

Asad: I did Optometry too and graduated in 2007. It was like a family, everyone knew each other. Everyone congregated in the same place. Secondly there was a lot you could get involved with. That’s how I learnt how to hustle, through the things I got involved with; societies etc.

Dhruvin: I’m happy I chose to stay in London rather than go away to another university. The support for researching and developing Ocushield was great! Ocushield wouldn’t have got off the ground without the help of the Optometry department and the CitySpark team.

How did you meet?

Dhruvin: Towards the end of 2017, a member of the CitySpark team advised me that someone called Asad Hamir was doing a talk at City. He said Asad was an entrepreneur but also did optometry and asked if I knew him. But I didn’t. I didn’t think there were many optometry students or alumni that ventured out of the [optometry] space. So, I went along to see what Asad was presenting. To my surprise, I was already aware of one of his ventures – Kite Eyewear, which at the time was located in Westfield, Stratford. They’ve now moved to Shoreditch.

How did the idea for Ocushield come about?

Dhruvin Patel (Optometry, 2015)

Dhruvin: I started the business while I was at university. In 2014 the idea came about when I was working in Vision Express on the weekends. They had just released blue light blocking lenses for people that wore glasses. The research showed the lens coatings would be used for people that wear glasses to reduce eye strain. So, Vision Express brought out that product and I was quite intrigued by it, but I didn’t wear glasses. At the time Cass Business School had a competition called CitySpark. You had to submit an idea and I thought the blue light blocking lenses were really cool but wondered how I could make it something that I and others can use. That planted the seed of the idea.

So, I got a brand together, called it iSleepEasii and I launched the concept at CitySpark. Having entered and won the first stage, I went through to the second stage. They invited 50 tech entrepreneurs and asked which business they believed in out of the 10 that were shortlisted, essentially based on whether they thought it was a feasible finished product and if the problem it addressed was big enough. Fortunately, I won and was given about £3,500 to start the business. It was a dream come true.

While completing my undergraduate degree and running the business on the side I’ve sold over 20,000 units, been featured on Forbes, The Telegraph, The Guardian and have both the Welsh Rugby team and West Ham United players are using our products.

What have been some of the challenges?

Dhruvin: Running the business whilst studying and working was a real challenge. Now it’s more about finding new areas for growth and scaling the business.

Asad: Reinvesting cash, thinking about cash flow. And managing Dhruvin to a certain extent. Dhruvin is very ambitious, so I help to make sure the brand is focused and delivering the right message. It’s important that we’re spreading the right message in a market that is just developing.

Dhruvin: Yes, talking to people about an innovative product in an immature market is an interesting challenge. But awareness is growing around blue light and the issues it poses in people’s lives. We’re also showing people that they don’t have to use colour-altering apps to protect their eyes from blue light – they can use Ocushield and see better results without having a clouded or discoloured screen.

What have been some of the rewards?

Dhruvin: Just the whole process of having an idea, researching it, developing it and bringing it to market. The opportunity to help people in their day to day lives is really special. When we receive positive reviews from happy customers it makes it all worthwhile.

Asad: The development of the brand. Making sure it has a warm message, the right art direction and tone of voice. It’s been exciting to see this brand develop into a company which has something fresh to offer, delivering an innovative product which resonates with people.

Asad Hamir (Optometry, 2007)

Asad, why did you want to invest in Ocushield?

Asad: Whilst we are both alumni there are aligned interests. It’s telecoms, I know telecoms. It’s eye health, I know eye health. I’ve built businesses in both of these spaces. When you’re involving yourself with a new business, it’s important to look for ways to bring your expertise into play in the most impactful way possible. I see that opportunity in Ocushield.

Dhruvin: There wasn’t a need to grow the business because it was cash flow positive. Asad saw the vision and it was refreshing to have someone’s input who is in the area. Someone who can add value with their expertise. The investment is smart money because Asad knows the space. When seeking investment, go for smart money.

Asad: For the investor you’ve got to do your research. Immerse yourself. Be passionate. A lot of the entrepreneurs need someone to bounce off of. If you’re investing, think about the return. Don’t be afraid to challenge the person you’re investing in. Don’t throw in your investment and hope for the best.

Dhruvin: I think the person that is investing has to have a proven track record. You should be able to admire and respect what they’ve accomplished. Also, have open ears to feedback when collaborating.

Do you have any advice to someone looking to start their own business?

Dhruvin: As a bootstrapper, I’d say don’t think too long about executing. If an idea is stopping you from sleeping or you can’t get it out of your head for a few weeks, get started. Speak to people, see what they think. Then take it day by day, eventually you’ll be headed in the right direction.

Asad: Identify the problem and solve it. Think about how you are going to bring it to market.  Think about the content, the product, the packaging, the purpose and the margins – ultimately you need to make money.

What’s next for Ocushield?

Dhruvin: Turnover has doubled since I went full time on the business after qualifying as an Optometrist, and we’ve spent this year redefining the product, brand and vision. We’ve also developed a computer screen privacy filter which we’ll be targeting towards businesses and individuals who feel a need to maintain privacy in the workplace – especially with recent data protection laws coming into place.

It will be available when we relaunch the Ocushield brand during National Eye Health Week this month. We’ll also be showcasing the brand at Employee Benefits Live at the Excel Centre in early October.

Asad: The focus is now turning Ocushield into a national and then an international company – the leader in digital eye health awareness. No one is leading this conversation, and it’s something people need to be thinking about and addressing. We want to secure big player retailers and work with the medical sector. The aim is to get Ocushield into every household. We really want it to bang!

Ocushield are currently seeking to recruit a Sales & Operations manager. If you would like to find out more about the role, please email info@ocushield.com.

For updates on new products and the upcoming exhibition, you can follow Ocushield on Twitter, IG and Facebook: @Getocushield

See their website for further information: ocushield.com

 

 

Student Support – Lesley

City Graduate School.

Our Student Hardship Fund is there to support students who find themselves in situations where there is a real danger that they will not be able to complete their studies. In the past year, your generosity has allowed us to award financially struggling students a record number of 155 hardship grants. Without this help, many of those students would not have been able to continue with their degrees.   

Students such as Lesley. Even undertaking a degree was a daunting decision for her.  Chronic illness and severe financial difficulties meant that Lesley did not follow a traditional route into Higher Education. Home-schooled and with no GCSEs or A Levels under her belt, Lesley nevertheless excelled when she eventually plucked up the courage to undertake an Access to HE course, achieving a Distinction.  This gave her the confidence to apply to City and pursue a BSc in Psychology.

However, without the award from Student Support which has provided the financial help that has allowed Lesley to pay her rent and get by, she would have had to drop out.  Her ongoing illness which led to the retaking of her first year had drastically slowed her down, but she is now ready to undertake her final year, with a real shot at achieving a First.

Lesley is now more optimistic about her future, with ambitions to continue her education when she graduates and eventually pursue a PhD in neuroscience.  “As well as chronic diabetes I also have Hypothyroidism and there is a significant lack of research regarding how different genetic variations effects thyroid treatment and its effect on brain activity. This means that there may be patients that are unknowingly prescribed the wrong medication, much like I once was. I want to explore and conduct research in this area, particularly brain activity in those with different genetic variations when on and off T3. I believe that if you become aware of something that needs to be changed, why wait for someone else to tackle them.  As for my degree, I just wouldn’t have been able to continue without the help of Student Support.  Thank you so much to those alumni who have supported this cause.”

This is what the Student Hardship Fund is all about.  Not only making sure that students complete their degrees, but sending them out into the wider world to do amazing things.  Every single one of your donations is an investment in society. 

Aphasia CommuniCATE Project

City Future Fund.

One of the biggest successes of this year has been the CommuniCATE Project.  Your generous donations have enabled us to continue this vital initiative, helping stroke survivors overcome the loss of their ability to speak, read, write and understand language. 

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder affecting approximately a third of people who survive a stroke and is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language.  It can be life changing for those who experience it, impacting their relationships with family and friends, their ability to work, and to engage in social activities and hobbies. Over 400,000 people in the UK experience aphasia, putting many of them at severe risk of isolation and mental health issues.

The project brings together three strands:

  • Research to find out if using technology in therapy can improve language and communication in people with aphasia, and if there are wider benefits for social participation and quality of life;
  • An online conversation service for people with aphasia, using Skype to help reduce social isolation that is experienced by many stroke survivors;
  • Supporting skill development in NHS clinicians and our students.

Indeed, it’s not only benefiting those who experience aphasia …

City student Ellie Hatch, who is studying for a MSc in Speech and Language and Communication, is working on the CommuniCATE Project as part of an internship.  One of the strongest motivators that she has encountered in her role, is seeing the joy on people’s faces as they get to grips with the life enhancing technology that the project works with.  Clients who are sending their first emails to their family, and being present at that moment and getting to see the reactions on people’s faces, is incredibly inspiring.

Ellie told us why the project matters so much.  “We are very much living in a modern world and technology is heavily integrated into the lives of most people. And the impact of using technology to support communication is often effective immediately.  Unlike traditional therapy, clients may enter the clinic for their first therapy session and will have written a text to a loved one an hour later, something they may not have done since their stroke. Typically, adults that have strokes tend to be older and therefore may not feel confident or skilled enough to explore different technologies.”

Every day that Ellie spends on the project is a day that is spent looking forward to building strong and impactful relationships with the patients.  The sense of achievement that she gets from this, confident that she is making a massive difference and with the knowledge that everyone who comes through the door will leave happier, is enormous.  She really wants to see these tools and this software taken out into the wider community and will advocate for this in the roles that she undertakes after graduation.

As Ellie says “Those alumni and friends who are supporting the CommuniCATE Project are making such a positive impact on so many people.  For my own part, and what it means for my experience, I cannot thank them enough!” 

Student Support – Teodor

City Future Fund.

Our Student Hardship Fund is there to support students who find themselves in situations where there is a real danger that they will not be able to complete their degrees. In the past year, your generosity has allowed us to award financially struggling students a record number of 155 hardship grants.  Without this help, many of those students would not have been able to continue with their studies.   

Students such as Teodor. Coming to the UK to take up his hard-won place at Cass and undertake a BSc in Business Studies, he put in long hours both with study and the part-time job that allowed him to get by.  Money was always going to be incredibly tight, but his financial situation was thrown into jeopardy at the beginning of his final year, when he was struck down by severe tonsillitis which, following surgery, was exacerbated further by complications brought on by numerous infections.  Unable to leave the house to work or study, Teodor found himself in a desperate situation.

Cass’s Student Hardship Fund saved the day, and quite possibly Teodor’s degree. Allowing him a period of grace so that he could recover, and helping pay off the bills that were accumulating, Teodor returned to his studies refreshed and ready for the vital final year of his degree.

Teodor can now carry on with the next stages of his plan.  He wants to complement the financial and economics elements of his BSc with a postgraduate degree in Politics, which would allow him to seek out a position working for the EU, an organisation that he is passionate about.  Teodor told us: “My ten year plan probably lacked one thing, a financial safety net.  However, the Student Hardship Fund provided that safety net, allowing me to get through my illness and its complications, and then fully focus on the incredibly important final year of my Business Studies degree. Thank you so much to all the alumni who supported this.”

This is what the Student Hardship Fund is all about. Not only making sure that students complete their degrees, but sending them out into the wider world to do amazing things. All of your donations are an investment in society. 

Find us

City, University of London

Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB

United Kingdom

Back to top

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.

Skip to toolbar