City Alumni Network

Author Archives: Mickella Nikoi

Virtual Science

Alumni Stories.

Second place prize winner Zaibaa Patel (Biomedical Engineering (MEng + PhD), 2019), tells us all about her experience of the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, including the first-ever 48-hour Online Sciathon. 

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I was at City for 8 years, completing my MEng and PhD. I absolutely loved my time at City; especially the great staff within the department. I can’t thank my PhD supervisor, Professor Panicos Kyriacou enough for giving me the opportunity to embark on a PhD and for training me to be a researcher.

I was awarded a Doctoral Scholarship by SMCSE, where my research focused on optical monitoring and electronic instrumentation. I engaged in a research project that involved the development of an intra-luminal sensor monitoring intestinal viability in colorectal cancer surgery, where I also received a prestigious postgraduate award by the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers.

During my PhD, I was nominated and identified by the university and the Royal Society as a young scientist candidate to apply to participate in the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2019, dedicated to Physics. Here I was selected and invited to attend and now considered as a Lindau young scientist alumni.

What happened after you graduated?

I was offered a position at King’s College London as a Research Associate in the Randall Centre for Cell and Molecular Biophysics (Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine). Still staying close to the PhD research area of optical monitoring, I am contributing to research within muscle biophysics. Specifically, I am in a group investigating the molecular mechanism of cardiac contraction through optical techniques. The understanding of how the heart contracts on a molecular basis would aid in potential therapeutics for heart disease.

Tell us about the 69th Lindau Meeting

Due to the pandemic, the annual Lindau meeting could not take place, therefore an online Science Day was held (28 June – 1 July). The online event gathered representatives from all the scientific disciplines of the Nobel prize, and the range of topics and discussions were extremely interdisciplinary this year. Nobel Laureates, Lindau alumni and young scientists from physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine as well as economic sciences came together.

The Lindau meeting also held the first-ever Sciathon. Following the format of a hackathon, Lindau alumni, young scientists and young economists were invited to work on an interdisciplinary project during an intense, 48-hour Sciathon. The topics of the Sciathon were about: (1) Lindau Guidelines, (2) Communicating Climate change and (3) Capitalism after Corona. During the 48 hours, they worked on current problems from the three topic areas mentioned before. In the competition, 87 different nationalities were represented as well as alumni from 24 different Lindau meetings of the last 40 years, and also someone from 1982!

I participated in a project under the topic ‘Lindau Guidelines’. The Lindau guidelines was first suggested by Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, where the guidelines aim to develop and support a new approach for global, sustainable and cooperative open science in the 21st century.

The group project was called ‘authentiSci: Enabling scientists to provide guidance in a post-factual era of media’. This was a proposal of a web extension that would allow scientists to work together to communicate reliable sources of scientific information to the public. Every day science is communicated to the public through media regardless of its accuracy or reliability, but there is no way for scientists to guide the public as they choose what to believe.

In just 48-hours, a group of 8 members, including myself, created a web extension prototype that allows verified scientists to score sources of scientific information and non-scientists to use as evidence of credibility. We were selected as the top 3 finalists and presented our results ‘live on stage’ during the Online Science Days to all Nobel Laureates and young scientists. With amazing projects to compete with, we were awarded 2nd place.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Our group of 8 individuals came from all over the world. Coming together, immediately identifying our strengths and starting to work was amazing. We immediately bonded and brainstormed ideas online and found ways to always communicate to enable us to have such a practical project up and running within 48-hours.

Yes! In 48-hours, we managed to get a web extension developed, write a report and create a short video to entice the jury! It was remarkable and I was impressed with the hard work we put in.

Now that the Sciathon is over, our project is continuing to advance and it has been a great way to increase my network of researchers. We are still bouncing around ideas and keen to have this extension used frequently. We are seeking for funding bodies, university sponsorship or verification of our web extension and most importantly, researchers who would like to contribute in “verifying” media articles.

What has been the biggest challenge in creating your prototype?

A challenge was to figure out a way to verify scientists who are reviewing media articles and scoring them. We decided the best method to verify scientists was by authorising them access to review articles by signing into their ORCID account. ‘ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier (an ORCID iD) that you own and control, and that distinguishes you from every other researcher’. (

The logistics of the team was a little challenging, since all of us were from different countries; the time zones and working hour had to be managed well. We were literally working around the clock!

Right now, we need to increase authentiSci’s visibility to scientists, the public and bodies who would be interested in helping us. It would be great if people who are interested could follow us on Twitter or contact us through our website.

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

Take every opportunity – don’t miss out.

It’s easy to feel nervous before applying or to feel that ‘It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be chosen’ – you definitely won’t be chosen if you don’t take the opportunity!

Work your utmost best! Once completing the Sciathon, we were extremely happy with the work we produced. Knowing that you put 100% into something, you’ll never be left feeling disappointed or saying ‘I wish I did more or tried harder’.


If you are interested in learning more about Zaibaa’s prototype authentiSci or would like to see the Lindau meeting presentation, please explore the links below:

  1. Zaibaa’s City profile
  2. Lindau guidelines
  3. authentiSci 2 minute video
  4. authentiSci Chrome extension
  5. Live on stage presentation

‘Books for Children That Adults Like Reading’

Alumni Stories.

We Love the NHS book cover

At the height of the pandemic, Thursday evenings became an opportunity for the nation to express its gratitude for the NHS. But when it became apparent that her own children were not entirely sure what they were clapping for, Ellie Levenson (Journalism, 2001) decided a book was needed. Here she talks about life at City, how she became a children’s author and her new book for under 8s; “We Love the NHS”.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I loved living in London – I shared a flat in Tottenham with a friend from my first degree at Manchester University – and we really made the most of it, going out most nights either with friends or to cultural events. The journalism department had loads of talks from big name journalists and I went to every single one, and at the time the postgraduate courses were small enough that you knew everyone and all socialised together after the talks. Also one of my good friends worked round the corner at Amnesty International which seemed hugely glamorous and we would meet for lunch on Exmouth Market or for after work drinks. Shorthand wasn’t compulsory for those of us on the periodicals course but I chose to do it anyway which meant getting to College for 9am every day so in many respects it was like having a job rather than being a student, and the City name opened doors so there was a steady stream of internships, or work experience placements as we called them then, all unpaid, so many of us worked bar jobs as well. We must have been exhausted but I don’t remember it as such.

What happened after you graduated?

I got a job immediately on a Business to Business publication called The Lawyer. I hated it and also had just split up with my boyfriend who I had met at City, so I applied for a competition in The Guardian called Netjetters. I won the competition and got to travel around the world business class for four months with a weekly column for The Guardian online. This was just at the beginning of interactive journalism, and readers sent in suggestions for what to do in each place and I was expected to engage with this and report back – this was pretty novel then as it was pre-social media.

When I got back, I got a job at the Fabian Society, a Labour Party affiliated think tank, working on their magazine and publications. I loved it – again, a bit like City, we worked hard and played hard, and spent every evening at political events networking and soaking up the atmosphere of the Westminster Bubble. But we were paid a pittance and after two years I left to become a press officer for a charity. This wasn’t me at all and after six months I left with the intention of going freelance, working in a bar if I had to, but I got lucky and applied for a part-time job teaching journalism at Goldsmiths College. I have been there for 15 years now, freelancing part-time for national newspapers and consumer magazines and teaching part-time. Since having children, I have reduced my teaching hours and also changed the focus of my freelancing. I no longer have time to write same day opinion pieces and fast turnaround features, so I have longer term deadlines instead and write books, for adults as Ellie Levenson and for children as Eleanor Levenson. I specialise in making political issues accessible for all audiences, including children, and my most successful children’s books have done just this, first with The Election in 2015, which explained voting and democracy to under 8s, and now with We Love the NHS which explains our health service to the same age group.

How did you become a children’s author?

I started writing children’s books when I had my own children and read some amazing ones and some less good ones, which made me think ‘I can do better than this’. As with journalism, success came with dogged persistence and following leads. I sent many pitches to many publishers and the moment one showed a bit of interest, I pursued them until it became a firm commission. I then set up my own publishers when no existing publisher wanted to publish The Election, which was a great decision as it went on to become a bestseller. My company, Fisherton Press, also publishes work by other authors – our tag line is ‘Books for children that adults like reading’.

We Love the NHS, my most recent book, specifically came about when after a few weeks of enthusiastically clapping for the NHS with my children, now aged 4, 7 and 9, I thought to ask them how much they knew about what it was we were clapping for and it quickly became apparent that a book was needed! It has the same amazing illustrator as The Election, Marek Jagucki, and is also aimed at under 8s.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

I love it when schools invite me in to speak to children about my books and being a writer and it is as if you see the lightbulbs go on above the kids’ heads when they realise a writer can be a normal person speaking to them in a normal way and that it is something they could also do.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to setting up your own publishers?

Whether to publish each project through Fisherton Press, my company, or seek a bigger publisher with a bigger budget is always a quandary, although I am a control freak so often prefer the opportunity to be in charge that I get from Fisherton Press. Being so small also means no clunky meetings spread out over weeks and months which meant we could get We Love the NHS from conception to completion in ten weeks.

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

When I was at City, my flatmate gave me great advice when I was talking about the kind of career I wanted – which was writing half the time and working in education half the time. ‘Just because no one else does it, doesn’t mean you can’t,’ she said. In fact, other people do also do it, but I hadn’t met any at the time, and it is exactly what I have ended up doing. So I guess that translates to not being afraid to forge your own path. Also, my parents always gave me the age-old advice of be polite, meet deadlines and fulfil the brief and I think that is what nearly all successful people actually have in common.


We Love the NHS is available to purchase via and

Executive Editor of Business Insider Spriha Srivastava (International Journalism, 2009) gives City students the ‘Inside’ scoop.

Alumni Stories.

Spriha Srivastava (International Journalism, 2009), current Executive Editor of Business Insider, recounts her time at City, her role in the University newsroom, working towards deadlines and the lessons she learned that have stayed with her to this day. She inspired our journalism students with her journey and experiences; going from a City student to the Executive Editor of Business Insider,

Speaking to the students about my journey since I graduated from City University took me back to the Northampton Square campus. I remember how we used to look forward to these guest lectures in order to get an insight into the real world of journalism. And so I tried my best to use real-life examples during my lecture in order to help the students understand the challenges and the fun of being a journalist.”    

In these challenging times, learning about Spriha’s career is an invaluable experience for our graduating students; to help them understand the job market they will be facing.

James Rodgers, Reader in International Journalism, (who chaired Spriha’s discussion with students) said,    

“We were delighted to welcome Spriha back to City—even if it was on Zoom this time. The student feedback was really positive. Spriha’s willingness to talk to students even when it is such a busy time for senior editors like her really shows the value of our alumni network.”

As the world has changed drastically in a very short time, Spriha discussed the challenges the current pandemic imposes on journalists,

We live in unprecedented times and the coronavirus pandemic has placed special responsibility on the journalists. We are the carrier of news but before we publish something, we have to be able to understand it ourselves so we don’t mislead our readers.”  

Spriha’s secret behind her successful career is something that is easy to adapt to yourself – hard work and determination:

Being a journalist is a constant work-in-progress. I constantly find myself learning new things. I studied politics and international relations but ended up being a financial journalist. It wasn’t easy but I spent a lot of time reading financial market books, WSJ, FT and others that helped me understand basic concepts that drive the market.”


How can the global aviation industry chart its way out of Covid-19?

Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News.

Linus BauerThe travel and commercial airline industry has suffered considerable damage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recently-released figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global aviation industry is set to lose US$252bn in 2020, with many airlines filing for bankruptcy and slashing up to 90 per cent of their flight capacity.

Linus Bauer (Air Transport Management, 2019) is an outstanding City alumnus, Managing Consultant at Bauer Aviation Advisory, and a Visiting Lecturer on the MSc Air Transport Management programme.

We caught up with him to ask about his perspectives on the future of commercial aviation.

CitySTEM Newsletter: Passengers still have a not unreasonable degree of anxiety about flying, even if they are wearing masks while travelling on aeroplanes and would have completed pre-boarding temperature checks. What further measures can airlines take to lessen their concerns?

Linus Bauer: Health and safety will become an ever-present factor because fear and trust will be the two emotions at the forefront of people’s minds when planning a trip. In the past two weeks we have witnessed new air rage triggers: Airlines breaking their promise to keep middle seats empty; and passengers failing to take precautions by not observing social distancing. Airlines need to be more transparent and confident in communicating social distancing protocol, especially so in the era of social media. Passengers are demanding to be informed through video messaging what airlines are doing to make travel safe for everyone – from preventive measures onboard and special cleaning processes, right through to minute-by-minute changes to flight schedules, etc. Such activities would certainly lessen the fears of health-conscious passengers and those in the 50+ age bracket. When people do not feel that an airline adequately respects their health and safety, they will quickly find one that does!

CSN: With the ever-deepening crisis in global aviation and major airlines filing for bankruptcy, is government assistance the only option?

LB: For a large group of major airlines across the globe, government assistance is the only option for their survival. In Germany for instance, the reinvestment of stabilization funds with special loan schemes from the previous global financial crisis offers the best solution for German stock corporations like flag carrier Lufthansa.

CSN: With current low oil prices and the correspondingly low demand for travel, will airfares become more affordable for travellers?

LB: Due to the fuel hedging activities at the end of 2019, the majority of airlines will, unfortunately, not benefit from the low oil prices at the moment. Airlines have been reporting massive losses in fuel hedging as fuel prices have plunged. The market-to-market losses from surplus hedges also arose because capacity cuts resulting from COVID-19 have meant that the fuel consumption needs of airlines will be lower than previously anticipated in the next fiscal years. Coming over to the demand side, the airline industry will suffer less demand in the next three years.
Due to technological advantages (e.g. video-conferencing) and economic recession (bankruptcies of companies), business travel will be limited to meet essential needs and a portion of business travel may never return (5-8% reduction in the medium-term). Those events (capacity cuts, reduction in demand and higher fuel costs than anticipated) will contribute to an increase in air fares in the medium-term. However, we may expect cheaper air fares for a limited time period at the very beginning, and methods will be devised to stimulate traffic and demand during the recovery phase.

CSN: Are there any specific geographical areas or travel markets of the world better prepared to return to normality?

LB: Normality is not likely to return before 2023. That said, I believe that countries like Australia and New Zealand have a geographical advantage and have done a great job of cementing links between themselves during this pandemic. A Trans-Tasman travel ‘bubble‘ will be established as soon as it is safe to allow flights between both countries. If it works well, they may consider inviting the Pacific islands and Singapore to join it. This model could prove to be a good example for the rest of the world to kickstart travel between countries on a step-by-step basis.

CSN: Will the airline industry be changed for the better? Given the role that government and private finance may contribute toward the restructuring of airlines, could COVID-19 force already poorly managed airlines to become more efficient?

LB: Every single crisis leads to new opportunities to improve things. What were viewed as the errors of the past can now be rectified. After receiving a wake-up call from this crisis, much more attention will be paid to issues like sustainability and the environment, leading to higher operational efficiency for the future.

CSN: How will the pandemic affect the pilot training pipeline?

LB: Pilots, flight attendants and gate agents are the groups most directly impacted by the sharp drop-off in passenger demand since the pandemic swept across the globe and essentially halted air travel for millions of people. The COVID-19 crisis has transformed the worldwide shortage of pilots into a surplus of them. The current crisis has changed everything, including carriers furloughing pilots by the thousands due to the deep cut in capacity for the next three years.

This interview was conducted as part of the CitySTEM Newsletter June 2020. If you completed your degree at City’s School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering and would like to receive the CitySTEM newsletter, please ensure we have your correct contact details by using this form

City in the Swinging Sixties

Alumni Stories.


written by Matthew Little (Communications Officer)

A series of posters advertising shows at City for bands like The Who, Traffic and the Soft Machine during the late sixties have been rediscovered.

Brian Burns, an engineering student who graduated from The City University, as City was known in 1969, was part of the poster department in the Students’ Union and designed prints for some of the university’s most iconic music nights.

Brian said: “City hosted some great bands back in the Sixties. They would come and play for many dances and Balls in The Great Hall on campus or in the dining hall at The Northampton Hall, which was the old halls of residence.

“We had a great community on campus and there was always something going on. Many different kinds of bands came into play, from jazz to folk to rock and roll. It was such a great time to be a student.”

The retired professor who now lives in Ottawa says that students were vitally important to the rise of British bands in the Sixties.

“It was an exciting time for rock and roll and there was no internet back then, so word of mouth was so important. These bands wanted to play for students just as much as the students wanted to see them play.

“The Entertainments team was ambitious, always keen to put on the best bands around. The Student’s Union provided a limited entertainment budget that would be used to pay the bands and then this would be made back with ticket sales.”

“So close to getting The Beatles”

Brian continued with: “It was quite a long shot, but I’d like to think we were close to getting The Beatles. They had stopped performing in 1966 and became a studio band, but we were sure they missed playing live.”

“We put together a not so very well developed plan where they would come and play under a different name, but unfortunately it never materialised.

“The best show I remember was when Traffic came to play in The Great Hall. We got them at the height of their success. Many of the students played guitar and in their own bands, so to see the big bands play at our university made a real connection.”

Brian, who went on to study design at Central School of Art and Design, also designed City’s floats in the Lord Mayor’s Show.

Looking back on his student life Brian said: “Somewhere during the shows people stopped dancing and just started to watch in awe. It was a real cultural shift around that time turning dances into concerts.

“While I enjoy the benefits of technology, it was a much more human time back then. We were very much part of the changing times, where we got to see it and live it.

“Looking back now that it has been 50 years, helps us remember just how good it really was.”



All of the prints have been digitised by Brian’s son, Adam Burns, and can be purchased at

Is Home Really Where the Heart is?

Alumni Stories.

In her debut novel ‘I Belong’, alumna Valeria Puig Sobredo (Bar Professional Training Course, 2018) explores the concept of finding our place in the world whilst tackling issues of identity and immigration. Inspired by her own decision to live abroad, Valeria’s book draws on personal experience to tell this story of belonging and searching for home.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I had a great experience studying at City, University of London. The tutors were very supportive and knowledgeable. I loved the quality of the course and City Law School offers very interesting pro-bono opportunities. I also made some great friends during my degree.

What happened after you graduated?

I finished my course on 3rd September 2018 after handing in my dissertation, and I dedicated the following four months to writing my book. In January 2019, I was awarded two scholarships from The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple to undertake two internships: one at the Cabinet of Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, and a second placement at the IRMCT in The Hague.

How did the idea for I Belong come about?

The book is a story of migration that tells the journey of a young woman who leaves Uruguay in 2006 at the age of 18 to go study in Europe, and ten years later finds herself working in refugee camps in West and Central Africa. This was based on a big part of my life having left my country of birth and living abroad all these years. I wanted to analyse different social concepts that I ran into during my time overseas. These essentially were matters of identity, the notion of privilege which varies from country to country, and the way I was perceived being a South American woman working in either Europe, the USA or several countries in West and Central Africa.

The story also talks about finding a place in the world with which we identify ourselves, and where we feel we fit or as per the title, belong. I think this is a very relevant concept to our generation which consists of many “citizens of the world” and which was not the case for instance, with my parents’ generation in Uruguay. Consequently, this made me reflect a lot about my own upbringing in the Uruguayan society and what I might have given up in exchange for my experience abroad.

Given that I worked in refugee camps for two and a half years, I decided to also add a layer in the story where Magdalena, the main character, finds out that her mother’s childhood friend was taken to Sweden as a refugee during the Uruguayan dictatorship four decades before. After this, she seeks to reunite them, but given that she is still working in refugee settings in Africa, this now starts stirring personal issues. Essentially her two worlds, the professional and the personal one, start merging together making it more difficult to keep a certain distance working in areas in conflict.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

I think the most rewarding experience will be when I finally have a printed version of my book in my hands. The book will be released on 15th August. However, being able to have a finished product (although one might think that their book “is never really finished” and always needs tweaking) was a great success. My grandmother was always a huge inspiration to me and being able to write this book is also in a way, something I can dedicate to her and to my parents.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to writing your book?

I undertook considerable sociological and academic research in order to write part of the book. It was very interesting, but also demanding. For instance, I analysed several notions such as privilege and undertook research on the topic of race, white privilege and the place that ethnic minorities occupy in Uruguay. I then compared this with other countries such as the USA and the UK, through the eyes of my character. I merged this analysis with the concept of immigration and nationality, which in Uruguay occupy a considerable historical role.

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

Three main things I recommend are; discipline, having others read your work, and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said: “There are no more than two rules for writing: having something to say, and saying it.” I had something to say, but it was the constant rewriting process and the feedback from others that ensured I said it well.

‘I Belong’ will be released on 15th August, however it is available for pre-order now. To get your copy, please visit:

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.

Find us

City, University of London

Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB

United Kingdom

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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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