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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, – 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, 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:

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.

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

Business School Dean's Update.


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,

Professor Paolo Volpin
Dean of the Business School

Alumni Town Hall on Friday 25th September 2020

Business School Dean's Update.

Message from  Professor Paolo Volpin, Dean:Paolo

We recently held an Alumni Town Hall meeting to explain more about why the Business School has changed its name, the process for finding a new name and how alumni can get involved.

We were privileged to hear from some members of our alumni community about their personal views on the change and I thank them for their involvement.

We have set up a Naming Steering Committee that will oversee the search for our new name. This is an informal working group of Council, with broad representation from all our stakeholders. Matthew Hubbard (MBA 1999) who is a member of the Business School Alumni Board is your representative on this group. This group will make naming suggestions to Council. There is a second group, the Naming Project Group, that will do all the work around the name change. This group is populated by our academic and professional marketing and branding experts, and will be supported by a branding agency to be appointed soon. 

Alumni, students and staff will have the opportunity of contributing to the name finding process as part of a wide consultation with all stakeholder groups, nationally and internationally. 

Based on this information, the Project Group will make its recommendations to the Steering Group, which in turn makes it to Council. This process should be completed towards the middle of next year and then we will be able to announce our new name. 

In the months following this announcement, the Project Group will work to prepare the official launch of the new name, which involves tens of thousands of small changes, including to our – and your – email addresses.

We will fully launch our new name in time for the academic year 2021/22. 

I will continue to keep you updated about this process and how you can get involved. If you have any questions, please email us at

You can watch a recording of the Town Hall event, see a transcript of my speech, as well as refer to our continuously updated FAQs about the process.

Best wishes,

Professor Paolo Volpin

Message from Professor Paolo Volpin, Dean of the Business School (formerly Cass)

Business School Dean's Update.

Speech transcript as delivered to Alumni Town Hall on Friday 25th September 2020, 12.30 – 1.30 pm

Welcome to you all.

Thank you for joining. Almost 500 alumni are with us today, and I am grateful that you are giving us so much of your time.

My name is Professor Paolo Volpin and I am the Dean of the Business School.  Thank you for joining us today.

This meeting is to explain more about why the Business School has changed its name, the process for finding a new name and how you can get involved.  I will do this first, we will then hear from some our alumni community about their personal views on the change, we will have a Q&A and I will then update you on next steps and plans for the future.

If you have any questions during the meeting, please submit them using the chat function.

I would now like to introduce you to some of your alumni colleagues, who will be speaking today.

Matthew Hubbard (MBA, 1999) and a member of the Business School Alumni Board.  Matthew was asked by fellow board members to represent them on the Naming Steering Committee.  He will be chairing our Q&A today.  Thank you, Matthew.

I am really pleased that we will also be joined by some of our alumni community today who are going to briefly speak about their personal views on our name change and its impact on them.  I would like to introduce them now.

Chinenye Ikwuemesi (EMBA, 2016)

Jason Dunwell (EMBA, 2014)

Prosper Williams (MSc Management, 2010).

Christina Thorngreen (MSc Management, 2010)

I am very grateful to them for speaking today, thank you.


2020 continues to be a challenging year. We are in the middle of a pandemic and, like you, we are facing all the uncertainties that come with that.  At the Business School, we have been working since March first to move our teaching online and then to prepare for an academic year that will be unlike any other.

I know the announcement of our name change in the middle of all this has caused many strong reactions in our community. Some of you celebrated the decision, some are outraged, others are unsure what to think.

We have all our own experiences and understanding of fairness and justice. It is natural that some of you might disagree with our decision.

But whether you agree or disagree – we cannot be successful without your support and confidence in us. To earn your support and confidence, you need to see us and hear from us, and you need to be able to question us. The aim of this Town Hall is to be a first step towards opening the door more widely and engaging in a dialogue about not only the name, but the strategic direction of the Business School for the decade to come.

Before we can move on to thinking about our future, it is important to understand how we got to this point. I know I may not change your minds, but what I will do today is explain the reasoning behind our decision.


Many of you have rightfully asked how it was possible that we did not know about Sir John Cass’s link to the slave trade. That is a fair criticism and a question many of us in the School have asked ourselves.

In 2001, when we accepted the donation of £5 million pounds to fund our new building and agreed to adopt Sir John Cass’s name, we carried out due diligence on the Sir John Cass Foundation, which funds educational opportunities for underprivileged communities in East London.

We did not look at the man who was the source of the Foundation’s wealth and what taking Sir John Cass’s name might imply – that is a source of sincere regret.

Discovering the truth about our namesake genuinely came as a shock, not only to us, but to all other institutions carrying his name. It is worth noting that all seven former Cass institutions and the Sir John Cass Foundation itself have now changed or are in the process of changing their name. In the context of our name change, we had to confront some very uncomfortable truths about our history.

We are a Business School with a global reach and a global outlook. But we are also fundamentally a British institution with deep roots in the City of London. That is what makes us attractive to many. It might be why you chose to study here. We have valued relationships with the great institutions of the City of London, the banks, the insurers and the professional service firms.

However, the City of London has a complicated history that is deeply intertwined with slavery. The Royal African Company was set up to organise and profit from the Atlantic slave trade. It shipped more African slaves to the Americas than any other institution in history.  It was a highly profitable business and most people of note working in the City at the time would have profited from it in some way.

Sir John Cass was not a distant shareholder in the company. He worked directly for it and in his role on the Executive Committee; he set budgets and gave detailed instructions to the captains of slave ships. These instructions included everything from the prices of the enslaved people on board, to the records kept of how many died while being transported.

Sir John Cass would have been fully aware of the human cost incurred in obtaining his wealth.

Yet, as many of you have pointed out to us, history is complex. A lot of good has come from the City of London: the doctrine of Habeas Corpus, which guaranteed the right to a fair trial; political liberty in Britain, and eventually the abolition of slavery. And like other individuals who profited from slavery at the time, Sir John Cass bequeathed his wealth to support charitable work – in his case, the education of disadvantaged children.

There is light and there is dark. It is important to acknowledge these complexities of history so that we remember that we have a role in shaping the events of the world. There is always hope to do things differently, and that is the position in which we now find ourselves.


I hope that after learning more about Sir John Cass, it has become clearer to those critical of our decision why an institution like ours cannot continue to carry his name. To retain his name would send a strong, negative message about our values and priorities as an institution.

Neither his philanthropy, nor the passage of time will erase the suffering he caused and the persisting inequality that slavery has contributed to creating in the world today.

The effects of slavery are still present in society. This is not an issue of the past; it is an issue of the present. Racism and structural inequalities for Black people persist, even hundreds of years after the abolition of slavery. To this day, Black students are three times less likely than White students to get high grades at A-levels and thus, to get admitted to university; the unemployment rate of Black people is double that of White people; and Black households in the UK have 63% lower incomes than White households.

More broadly, the exploitation of others through seemingly legitimate business practices remains a source of wealth for many individuals and corporations.

As a Business School, we have a role to play in addressing these problems and inequalities. Repudiating the name of a slave trader is a first step in that direction.


At this point, I’d like to remind us that we are not a private, but a public institution. We are not driven by profits, but by our public purpose:

Our purpose is to create knowledge that has an impact on the business world. It is to educate our students in a way that prepares them for the increasingly complex world we live in. And importantly, our purpose is to build a community of mutual support that includes all of our stakeholders: our students, alumni, staff and partners.

This community is incredibly diverse – it represents many nationalities and ethnicities. It’s a community that includes Black people whose ancestors were enslaved.

We have a responsibility to all of you. But in this situation, given Sir John Cass’ involvement in the slave trade, we have a particularly strong responsibility to the Black members of our community.


This decision is not about “cancelling” history, this decision is about facing up to our history. Nor is it a decision that has been imposed on us by City or other external forces. This decision is our decision.

When it came to the decision to no longer use the name Cass, it was not the easy thing to do. But, for our School and its future, I know it is the right thing to do.

This decision is about affirming what we stand for as an academic institution – one that is dedicated to research, education and community; to learning from the past, questioning the world we live in now and to striving to improve it for the future.

The world has changed drastically in the two decades since we agreed to carry the Cass name: we have seen the rise of artificial intelligence, the gig economy, the devastating impacts of climate change, changing geopolitics, and of course, we are currently living through a pandemic whose impact is still unknowable. We have had to ask ourselves if we are really doing all we can to prepare our students for this future. Our name change challenges us to seriously engage with this question. It is also an opportunity to reimagine our future and to imagine a better future. And for that, I am grateful.

I will speak more about our plans for the School, the process for finding our new name and explain how you can get involved shortly. But first, I would like to hand over to our alumni speakers.


Alumni speakers (Chinenye, Prosper, Christina, Jason)


I wish to thank the speakers for their brave and heartfelt words.

Q&A, Chaired by Matthew Hubbard


Thank you for all your questions. I hope I have provided some answers, and we will work on our FAQs to answer even more.

I now want to say a few words about the process of the name change. We have set up a Naming Steering Committee that will oversee the search for our new name. This is an informal working group of Council, with broad representation from all our stakeholders. As explained, Matt is the alumni representative on this group. This group will make naming suggestions to Council. There is a second group, the Naming Project Group, that will do all the work around the name change. This group is populated by our academic and professional marketing and branding experts, and will be supported by a branding agency. The agency pitches are happening this and next week.

There will be two broad stages to the name finding process, to which you can contribute.  In the first stage, our community will be able to make direct naming suggestions as part of a carefully managed crowdsourcing contest.

In the second stage, the Naming Project Group will identify the most promising names, and conduct a wide consultation with all stakeholder groups, nationally and internationally, to find out how the different names resonate.

Based on this information, the Project Group will make its recommendations to the Steering Group, which in turn makes it to Council. This process should be completed in March, so that in April, we will be able to announce our new name.

In the months following this announcement, the Project Group will work to prepare the official launch of the new name, which involves tens of thousands of small changes, including to our – and your – email addresses.

We will fully launch our new name in time for the next academic year – 2021/22.


Future plans

To conclude, I want to talk briefly about our future plans for the Business School.

We have a strong reputation as an institution, and that reputation will not disappear. Changing our name is an opportunity. Changing our name is only a starting point for creating a better business school which is more tuned with the future of business.

We have only started this conversation and our plans will evolve and crystallise throughout the year, hopefully with your input.

We believe that change has to happen on several levels:

First, we have to start addressing the issues of racial equity. This starts with more equal access to the Business School. We will set up a Racial Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Fund worth about £5 million – the amount of money we originally received from the Sir John Cass Foundation. Starting next academic year, over a 10-year period, we will provide complete fee-waivers and stipends to 10 Black undergraduate, 5 Masters and 3 PhD students per year. We will also build in support for outreach and guidance for this cohort of students.

We will change our curriculum. We will incorporate our history – linked to the history of the City of London – to ensure we never forget why we changed our name. We will also explicitly talk about race and diversity throughout the curriculum and make this discussion part of all student inductions.

Finally, we have already started work on a Racial Equity and Inclusion Strategy for the Business School. To advise and monitor the School’s progress on these issues, we will set up a Diversity and Inclusion Council consisting of staff, students, and alumni.

Second, searching for a new name gives us cause to re-examine more broadly what we can do to renew our commitment to excellence. We must prepare the Business School to serve its purpose in the next decade to come. We excel at teaching subject-specific knowledge and ensuring that our students learn the technical skills they need to succeed in their careers. But given the challenges of tomorrow’s world, I don’t believe that is enough anymore. We must tackle difficult social, economic and environmental problems head on. We must ensure that our graduates are resilient in the face of unexpected problems and uncertainty.

We will achieve this by no longer prioritising knowledge over thinking.

Of course, we must convey to our graduates the knowledge they need to do their jobs, but in addition, we have to train them more explicitly in thinking. Not “what” to think, but “how” to think. Survey after survey shows that critical thinking and complex problem solving are the most sought-after skills in graduates. Yet, these are also the skills most in decline.

Therefore, we must imbue our curriculum and everything we do with a renewed focus on complex problem solving, critical thinking and judgment:

We must lead the way in bringing our research topics into the classroom, such as ESG investing, shareholder activism, ethical dilemmas in big data analysis and AI, sustainable consumption, managing diversity in global teams – just to name a few.

There is so much more we can do – this challenge will entail nothing less than reviewing every single programme and every single course we teach, and to re-imagine how we can teach them better to reflect our changing world and our evolving vision for the school. This means getting rid of some of the things we do, and adding new courses, maybe whole new programmes. This means being bold enough to embrace different pedagogical approaches, educational technologies and assessment methods. This means challenging our students and ourselves to go out of our comfort zone and explore the uncomfortable, the complex, and the unknown.

For you, our alumni, the challenge will be to decide if you want to help us shape this vision for the future of your Business School. Your experiences, skills, and networks will be essential in bringing these ideas to life.

I would now like to thank you all for coming today.  I would like to thank Matt for co-chairing with me and, most of all, I would like to thank our alumni speakers, Chinenye, Prosper, Christina and Jason, for sharing their thoughts with us today.

Thank you, all. I look forward to working with all of you, and to continue this conversation.


Missing City and your alumni services?

City News.

Campus: With the new academic year just around the corner, colleagues across City are working hard to ensure new and returning students get off to the best possible start. Safety is of course paramount. This also means that, for the time being, physical access to campus has to be tightly managed and is currently restricted to small groups of staff and students. It is our hope and wish that we can soon welcome you as well as all staff and students back to campus.

CitySport: Members are very welcome to use the facilities again. Booking in advance is mandatory and can be completed by phone on 020 7040 5656 or at CitySport Reception. CitySport re-opening FAQs for members

City Sight: Student clinics will resume on campus from early October, where you are entitled to free sight tests. Please call 020 7040 8338 or email to book to book an appointment.

CityLibrary: Due to a phased return, it is not expected that alumni members will be able to access the libraries during the first term of 2020-21. To compensate for this disruption, all current alumni library memberships will be automatically extended for six months. Any items currently on loan from the Library will also be extended and no further action is required at this stage.

A range of book return facilities are currently available.

  • Northampton Square Library – outside the main entrance to University Building
  • Business Library (Bunhill Row) – on the ground floor of the Business School

Alumni Card: If your Alumni Card is due to expire before the end of November, we can confirm that it will be automatically extended to Thursday 31st December. We will be writing to those affected shortly, explaining how you can still make use of it.

A Road to Extinction

Alumni Stories.

Researched and written by the first Director of the Royal African Society, Dr Jonathan Lawley (Administrative Sciences MBA, 1994 and Chemistry, 1996) chronicles the fascinating 100,000-year history of the Andamanese aboriginals and showcases how modern society threatens to wipe out our earliest human ancestors.

We caught up with Jonathan who told us all about his recently published book, A Road to Extinction: Can Palaeolithic Africans survive in the Andaman Islands?, and his experiences at City.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

In August 1982, I was taken on by the Rio Tinto company to set up and run a pioneering programme; to train the first Indigenous technical managers for the mining industry in southern Africa. The methodology involved bringing the trainees, all graduates, to Europe for two academic years away from their home environment where for historical reasons, leadership and management were associated in everybody’s minds with white men. The aim was to help gain both skills and confidence through interspersed work attachments at mines and smelters and academic studies, involving amongst other things, accounts, economics and management theory leading to a MSc in Industrial and Administrative Sciences.

Arrangements were made by Rio Tinto with City for the academic modules to be under the umbrella of Prof John Donaldson, assisted by Dr Sue Grimes and in collaboration with the Business School. I was Trust Director with responsibility for the trainees, arranging work attachments and contributing to the academic programme and briefing the trustees.

As the programme got off to a shaky start, we adopted a tough new approach with work choices made by the company and by the time of the second annual intake of trainees, the companies were even more keen to accept them because of their hard work and commitment. We sent trainees on three work attachment to 32 companies in the UK, Ireland and Portugal and incorporated trainees from Brazil and Portugal. Besides the success of work attachments, the academic part of the programme was a huge success. Back home, virtually all trainees made rapid progress. We had broken new ground and through being very stimulated, I applied and was accepted to do a PhD in 1988.

What happened after you graduated?

After winding up the programme in 1994, the World Bank wanted to take me on a secondment from Rio Tinto to apply our methodology to the Russian Mining Industry but that did not work out. Instead, I was seconded to the British Executive Service Overseas as Africa Director. In 2000, I was appointed the first Director of the Royal African Society. Then from 2004 to 2016, I was Senior Adviser to the Business Council for Africa

Tell us how the idea for your new book A Road to Extinction came about?

My experience and PhD researches led to the conclusion that civilization and human progress, including overcoming our deficiencies, depends on what we learn and the perspectives we gain from contact with other cultures. My contact with the Andaman Islands, arising from five generations of family involvement, turns that theory on its head, as other cultures potentially threaten their way of life.

I wanted to help readers recognise the significance of tribes with lifestyles in total harmony and compatibility with their environment, which for centuries, they have fought to preserve against the threat posed by so called civilization. It is the life of our earliest human ancestors from whom we have much to learn. Now exploitative and demeaning tourism may threaten to destroy a human success story, many thousands of years old.

I was fascinated to discover, mainly from two books he had written, of my grandfather’s experiences when he was an administrator in the Andamans more than a hundred years ago. More recently, three factors have combined to make this story even more interesting. First was the murder of an American, would be missionary, on an outer island whose community is the only one in the planet with no links to the outside world. Then in March 2020 came DNA evidence linking the aboriginals, specifically to Botswana, which I know well. Now comes a new threat of Covid-19 to the continuing existence of the tribes.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Seeing former trainees gain real self-confidence, having genuinely understood and embraced the management challenge and gone on to succeed. It was particularly rewarding to see, in an African context, the impression made in the UK of our single female trainee and to witness her subsequent career successes.

What has been the biggest challenges with writing your book?

Overcoming racist cynicism and gaining the genuine understanding of trainees of what management is really about.

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

Understand that there is as much potential technical management talent in Africa as anywhere else in the world.

A Road to Extinction: Can Paeolithic Africans survive in the Andaman Islands? is available now at: For further details about this book, download this Advanced Information sheet.

Income insurance for millennials

Alumni Stories.


Affordable, Digital and Instant Income Insurance


After finding the process of buying or claiming on insurance incredibly frustrating, Reza Hekmat (Actuarial Science, 2014) felt it was time to bring the system into the digital-age, so it no longer took weeks to complete! With Spring now fully set up, the team have been able to reduce prices, make income insurance affordable, digital and instant, where customers can buy income insurance straight from their phones and in just minutes.

Find out more about Reza here:

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I studied at City for four years from 2010 to 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I usually talk about my first year at university as one of the best years of my life. I was at the old Finsbury Halls student accommodations in my first year, which I believe were completely renovated immediately afterward. So, we were the last set of students living in those iconic accommodations. Huge floors with, if I recall correctly, about 20 rooms on each floor. Old and worn out at the time, but I met some of my best friends there and had the best year of my life.

I studied Actuarial Science at the Business School, which gave me a brilliant foundation and opportunities for the rest of my career.

In the academic year 2012-13, I took a placement year and worked at an insurance company called Friends Life (now Aviva) in Bristol. This also gave a huge boost to my experience and career, which I should thank City’s Career Services team for helping set up. I still recommend to everyone to try and get a placement year during their university studies.

What happened after you graduated?

I was fortunate enough to get an actuarial job straight out of university. After finishing my exams, I started working at Vitality, as an actuarial analyst. I worked in the product and pricing team which allowed me to work on some great products alongside brilliant people from across the insurance industry. An experience that is proving to be very valuable now.

I worked at Vitality for five years, qualifying as an Actuary in 2017. I left Vitality in 2019 to work on Spring. Spring is a new provider of insurance, offering affordable, digital, and instant income insurance to millennials.

How did the idea of Spring come about?

We have seen and experienced first-hand, the frustrations that customers go through when buying or claiming for insurance. It was almost impossible to buy income insurance online. It usually involved lengthy phone conversations or filling long forms. In the era of one-click purchases, this really frustrated us.

That’s when we decided to set up Spring. At Spring we have created a simple and fully digital journey, where customers can buy and claim for insurance online and in minutes. Also, by cutting out the “middle-man”, manual forms and phone calls, we have managed to reduce the prices and make income insurance affordable.

What have been the biggest challenges?

Starting the company from scratch meant that our biggest challenge was always going to be capital and finding investment. It took us many months, countless coffees, and numerous meetings to find the right investors for our business.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Learning new skills. Soon after we started Spring, I realised how much more there is for me to learn. I spent the majority of my first few months learning about different aspects of running a business and learning new skills. From programming and compliance, to marketing and even video editing.

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

I’m still at the beginning of my journey and so may not be best placed to advise anyone. But what I have come to learn is that knowledge and contacts are the two most important assets that anyone can have. I suggest to anyone who wants to start a business or make progress in their career, to learn as many new skills as they can, even if it seems irrelevant to their job at the time, and to make as many connections as possible with the right people.

And to finish off, do you have any other words of wisdom?

Recent events have had an impact on all of our lives and the way we live it. It has made us more aware of our responsibilities towards our hygiene, the environment, and our finances.

And now is the time for us all to take a hard look at the way we conduct ourselves in relation to these and take more responsibility to manage them.

Now that life seems to be returning back to normal, or a new normal, I hope everyone stays safe and look towards the future with enthusiasm and realise that we all have the power to make a difference

Thank you Reza for sharing your success with us! Follow the team on their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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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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