Blogs

City Alumni Network

Author Archives: Danielle Critchley

Looking for something Scandinavian, stylish and sustainable? Introducing DELINDH!

Alumni Stories.

Noticing a gap in the market for a men’s premium dress shirt brand, Anton Lindh (MSc Finance with a Specialism in Corporate Finance, 2012) has launched his own high-quality fashion business with his girlfriend, Charlotta, which comes at an affordable price. Through the art of craftsmanship and the aim to be more sustainable, DELINDH offers a range of shirts with a Scandinavian style, which are completely made from materials approved by the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world, Better Cotton Initiative.

Find out more about Anton and DELINDH here:

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

Through being granted the Dr. Tech. Marcus Wallenberg Scholarship, I was given the opportunity to study at Cass Business School on the MSc Finance program (class of 2011/2012). It was a truly amazing and rewarding time, both academically and personally. My time in London was very enriching in so many ways and I really enjoyed my time at Cass by getting the opportunity to learn from some of the best professors and students in the industry, as well as making friends for life. Academically, I very much appreciated the practical orientation of the courses and where professors came in with real life experience into the classroom, which made the studies much more vibrant and interesting for me as a student. I also felt my studies gave me a head start in my career and learnings for life, which I brought into my entrepreneurial path when co-founding my company DELINDH.

What happened after you graduated?

After Cass, I went into banking (the “mandatory” way like many of my fellow classmates) and did M&A for two years, followed by working at an investment fund, Proventus Capital Partners, for three years, both located in Stockholm. Following my enrolment in the financial industry I felt I wanted to try out what is was like at a real company and went into a mixed investor relations/business development role at a fast-growing gaming company. However, I always – since before and after my time at Cass – felt that I was going to become an entrepreneur one day and start my own company.

How did the idea of DELINDH come about?

During my time in the financial industry and as a major consumer of men’s dress shirts, I really felt that this segment was very divided and old fashioned – both in terms of the product offering and go to market model. Either there were low cost men’s dress shirt brands with low price tags and a quality level that really wasn’t made to last and wearing these shirts did not give the right feeling of being on top of the game for a workday. On the other hand, there were a number of premium brands, with great quality, feel and slick design but which came at a cost and a very high price tags, e.g. £180-200 for a white twill shirt, which made filling up the shirt wardrobe a very expensive (recurring) project. Both segments were also very old fashioned in their offering models, having a huge reliance on numerous middlemen in sales and production.

I was happy to share this view of the market with my girlfriend Charlotta, with a background from the textile and fashion industry. We saw a gap for a men’s premium dress shirt brand with a truly high-quality feel, which could focus on craftsmanship and offering a really simple and affordable process for the customer.

Therefore, we decided to sell our newly refurbished apartment in downtown Stockholm and quit our high paying jobs to go down the entrepreneurial (low cost living) life and to start our shirt brand DELINDH. Our idea, which we later came to materialize by launching DELINDH during the Christmas of 2019, was to offer high-quality and sustainable premium men’s dress shirts made with fair working conditions in Europe and to create shirts that were made to last a long time. A premium dress shirt in a modern Scandinavian design and at an accessible price point with sales only through our own e-commerce channel to deliver as much value as possible to the end customer. Our idea has always been to be very considerate by partnering up with only the best manufacturing partners in Europe with the right experience and understanding of the craftsmanship of making a men’s premium dress shirts. There are really only a handful of these manufacturing companies in the whole world and all are located in Europe. In addition, we have also been very selective with our materials and only used BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) certified long staple cotton from the US. All to deliver a sustainable premium men’s dress shirt with the highest possible quality and feeling for the end customer – all at an accessible price and only online.

What have been the biggest challenges?

I cannot point to one single obstacle, but things take time and are costlier than expected. In addition, there are many “unknowns”. Charlotta and I were starting a business for the first time ever and as it was a new venture, we had no external retailers or brands to rely on. Excel and spreadsheets are great tools (which I used a lot in the financial industry) but in real life, other parameters will also come into play and affect your strategy and operations – ultimately taking you more time than expected. Thus, facing challenges and overcoming them also prepares one better for future obstacles, in my opinion.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Everything! As an entrepreneur you are facing so many challenges, ups and downs and different “roles” within the company, from logistics, product development to customer service. So, the most rewarding feeling is the positive responses and feedback from our customers (and all other supporters), which is the ultimate proof that our idea and business model is working – a truly great feeling! We have been very fortunate as DELINDH has had a great start and numerous customers have returned in such a short time span, which of course has been very rewarding.

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

This might come across as a bit cliché but just do it! Life is too short to wait for the perfect moment or timing for your idea. You must try your idea in real life to assess if it is working or not, as in the end the customer will decide – in a more fiercely competitive, fast phased and changing landscape than ever before.

I have never had such a steep learning curve before and I personally felt prepared by both my studies at Cass and the work experience I had had prior to co-founding DELINDH.

Thank you to Anton for sharing his success with us! Visit DELINDH for more information or check it out on Facebook and Instagram

Cass graduate secures place on prestigious Schwarzman Scholars programme

Alumni Stories.

Congratulations to Alexander Scharrer (BSc Investment and Financial Risk Management, 2016) on being named as one of the Schwarzman Scholars for its Class of 2021. Schwarzman Scholars is designed to prepare graduates to build stronger relationships between China and a rapidly changing world, and to address the most pressing challenges of the 21st Century.

Find out more about Alexander’s experience at Cass and his latest achievements here:

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cass. The practical nature of the degree prepared me well for my internships in the financial industry and eventually helped me secure a position at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

During university, I also developed a strong passion for Technology, in particular Artificial Intelligence (AI). Cass gave me the opportunity to follow this passion and represent the university at European Tech conferences such as LeWeb in Paris. However, the best part of my experience at Cass were the friendships I have formed with other students and that I continue to have to this day.

What happened after you graduated?

Upon graduation, I joined Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) in London, where I have previously completed a summer internship. In my role as Retail Sales Analyst, I represented GSAM’s full product range and covered financial intermediaries such as banks, funds of funds, private banks and asset managers, primarily in Austria and Germany. At the same time, I continued my AI research and later volunteered for several AI societies in the UK and Austria.

My three years at Goldman have been an invaluable experience and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented group of people. However, I also wanted to pursue postgraduate studies and thus made the difficult decision to leave my position at Goldman in July.

How did you get involved with the Schwarzman Scholars programme?

Given the importance of China in AI and virtually every other industry today, it has always been clear to me that I would like to gain first-hand experience in China. I truly believe that nowadays every student should have a fundamental understanding of China and its economy.

Through a former scholar, I discovered Schwarzman Scholars and was immediately convinced that it would be the ideal programme for my professional aspirations. Inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, it is the first programme that was designed to respond to the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. The scholarship is anchored in a one-year Master’s degree in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University and focuses on China, global affairs and leadership. I applied over the summer and following an interview in London at the end of October, I was fortunate to be selected out of a total of over 4,700 applicants. I am very excited to become a part of this interdisciplinary, multi-cultural environment, where like-minded individuals can discuss ideas and help each other succeed. In the future I hope to serve as an intermediary between the European Union and China in order to facilitate discussions on AI.

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

I strongly recommend students to apply to the Schwarzman Scholars programme. The application process can be overwhelming at first but it challenges you to think about your personal as well as professional aspirations and you end up learning a lot about yourself. Apart from being one of the most prestigious graduate fellowships in the world, the Schwarzman Scholars programme is an amazing opportunity to learn more about China and study at Schwarzman College, at the heart of the Tsinghua University campus. You will be surrounded by a remarkable group of individuals with different academic backgrounds but the shared vision to have a positive impact in their respective fields.

Thank you to Alexander for sharing his story and good luck with the Schwarzman Scholars programme

Pain-less: Living with Pain, Finding Joy

Alumni Stories.

Anne WelshNever one to shy away from breaking down barriers, Anne Welsh (MSc Investment Management, 2008) – who has established workplace practices for ethnic minorities and people with disabilities – has now penned her story detailing what it is like to live with an invisible illness. In Anne’s recently published memoir, Pain-less: Living with Pain, Finding Joy, she lets her readers know that life can still be wonderful, no matter the challenges they may face.

Find out more about Anne here:

Instagram: @ladyannewelsh
Facebook: ladyannewelsh
Twitter: @ladyannewelsh
YouTube: annewelsh

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

Attending Cass was a wonderful experience. I was challenged by the study programme but felt a great sense of community with the professors and students. The support I received as a sickle cell student was tremendous, and this helped me achieve strong academic results regardless of how sickly I was.

The environment was very friendly and encouraging for studying. I made lots of friends from different backgrounds and still keep in touch with them. During my time at Cass I found it very useful when I engaged with my fellow students. This helped me learn different viewpoints, exchange ideas and discuss issues that were taught in class. An important life learning for me is that there’s no shame in acknowledging when you need help and the staff were always accommodating and supportive.

What happened after you graduated?

The leap into work was not easy. However, doing my MSc at Cass made applying for City jobs easier, as attending this prestigious school opened doors and gave me access to a much broader set of opportunities. During internships, I worked with colleagues in similar positions as myself and we were able to share understanding of issues and help each other grow.

Upon graduating in 2008, I was hired by Lehman Brothers Asset Management for the Investment Management Division. After Lehman, I continued in the same role for another investment company before taking time off to have my first child. I then focused on charity work as Chairperson of the Sickle Cell Society UK and other organisations before starting my own consultancy company focused on business development and branding in 2014.

In June 2019, I launched my memoir Pain-less: Living with Pain, Finding Joy and will continue to be an advocate for improving awareness of sickle cell disease and sharing experiences of how to improve quality of life while living with invisible illnesses.

How did Pain-Less come about?

Since I became an adult, I have felt it is my duty to raise awareness of the sickle cell condition. It is a testament to many dear friends that I have lost from the disease. Also, as I travelled to many locations in Africa and the Middle East where sickle cell is highly visible in the population, this reinforced my view that there was a need for a global voice for the disease.

Becoming an author was very time consuming, but I was driven to succeed. My book was developed over about five years and it took a focused hard push over a nine-month period to complete it. I turned to writing because I was passionate about my story and believed it was one that needed to be told. I had a difficult time growing up, being sick and not getting the help, which I needed. I always thought I was the cause of my pain and that suffering from having sickle cell would always keep me from the joy in life. At times, I blamed myself for my failings and by putting them down on paper, these experiences could then be shared to help others in similar situations.

What have been the biggest challenges?

As an author , it was the challenge of frequently finding the internal discipline that was needed to complete the task of the next paragraph of the next chapter being written; and you never get the prose correct the first time. So, punishing yourself to go through many iterations until you get as close to perfection as you can – this really tests one’s stamina.

My company is about placing investors and projects together in difficult operating environments around the world. Therefore, the greatest challenge from a business viewpoint, is the constant refreshing of relationships. To do this job well, you must constantly travel, attend events and forever be researching details. Some of the countries I have worked in have been devastated by war and regime changes which makes doing business very difficult and where even simple logistics and accommodation is of a very basic quality.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

On a personal level, being part of a loving family has been the ultimate reward and in some small way the personal knowledge I gained by writing the book has helped me appreciate this aspect of my life even more.

The individual accomplishment I hold dear, has to be having my book launched in London and frequently getting positive comments about how my book has helped people dealing with health issues.

My positive experiences from my business have been focused around being able to deliver unique solutions that will put a smile on the faces of both investor and project owner. Knowing that the advice you gave them will contribute to improving the quality of life for many people is very rewarding.

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

Establishing personal networks that you can trust is key to success. Only by knowing people that can implement business solutions or have access to high quality projects will you succeed. Believe in yourself and do thing things you love. This way even when you are having a very difficult day on the job it will never feel like work.

Thank you to Anne for sharing her story! If you would like to find out more about Anne and Pain-Less, visit Anne’s website here

The Student Hardship Fund

Cass Future Fund.

Doyin has recently completed an MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass. But without the help of your donations and the student hardship fund this might not have happened. A highly motivated and driven individual, Doyin undertook her Masters in order to bolster the seven years of experience she had already gained in the Insurance sector. Doyin told us that “I felt my career was nearing a ceiling, and the Insurance and Risk Management Masters was my plan to ensure it didn’t and I could move on up to the next level.”

In order to take on the intensive workload of the degree, Doyin made the courageous decision to put aside her full-time position. Her income was drastically reduced, and course-fees, bills, travel and food expenses soon began to eat into the savings that she had put aside to undertake the degree. It was at this point that the Student Hardship Fund stepped in and supplied her with the necessary funds to continue. “It definitely gave me peace of mind and the ability to concentrate on my studies without the daily and incapacitating worries about money.” Doyin was overjoyed to complete her course last month and would like to say thank you to all those who supported the Cass Future Fund.

Doyin has since returned to employment in the City of London, and is back working in the Insurance sector. She will officially graduate in January 2020 and is very much looking forward to it. Doyin’s immediate goal is to utilise the skills and contacts obtained whilst studying at Cass, broadening her experience in some of the areas of Insurance that prior to her MSc were closed off. Doyin is passionate about driving change in Insurance and is incredibly committed to career development, not only for herself but for those around her too. “I belong to an ethnic minority group that is under-represented in our industry and am involved in encouraging some of these talented individuals into the market, regardless of background.” Doyin reiterated: “the London Insurance Market serves a global client base, and in my opinion, the way to achieve success at this is to foster diverse working environments. Education is great. It evokes thinking and contributes to the much talked about diversity of thought in a workplace.”

Doyin also plans to get involved with the Cass Global Women’s Leadership initiative. Learn more about this here.

Without doubt, the Student Hardship Fund has been instrumental in Doyin successfully completing her course. And it will continue, through your help, to do that for countless future students. Thank you so much for your support.

The CommuniCATE Aphasia Clinic

Cass Future Fund.

At the outset, the Clinic’s aim was to dramatically improve people’s ability to communicate after a stroke. By making use of life-changing interventions through modern technology, the project focuses on enabling and providing vital therapy to those with aphasia. Indeed, for those living with this condition, the Clinic is now ensuring that stroke survivors receive at least six weeks of communication therapy. The Clinic’s reach is also extending with the exploration of innovative models of delivery such as a greater use of therapy and an increase in the number of practical applications that can be run on smart phones and tablets. Through research and publications the Clinic is also making a vital contribution to the knowledge base of colleagues in the NHS and beyond. And let’s not forget the considerable benefits that the Clinic provides to our Speech and Language Therapy students through placements and internships, developing and guaranteeing skills in novel therapies and ensuring that the project is sustainable.

We caught up with Eve, now a graduate, who undertook a placement with the Clinic:

Eve Samson studied for an MSc in Speech and Language Therapy, graduating in 2019. As part of her MSc, she undertook a placement at the CommuniCATE Clinic, and after finishing took up a role with the NHS in Surrey.

Eve thoroughly enjoyed her MSc, choosing City because of its unsurpassed reputation for Speech and Language Therapy. Her path to Speech and Language Therapy came about through previous roles and her first degree. Out of a love of languages, she chose to study Italian and French at Warwick and grew passionate about translation. This passion solidified when she went on ERASMUS in Italy, studying in the north in Bergamo. After graduating she undertook a role with British Airways as part of their cabin crew. Her passion for communicating was clear to her in interactions with passengers and other staff. This eventually led to a big career change decision, and her pursuit of speech and language therapy.

Eve’s placement at the Clinic was alongside three other students, and they worked three full days per week. She was an integral part of the reading and writing groups and quickly realised how essential she and her fellow students were to the clinic’s work and clients. If the students were not there, the clinic would not run. This responsibility made her feel incredibly valued and she rose to the occasion. She was also struck by the superb organisation of the clinic. Things were done professionally and properly and there was clearly a far-reaching impact being made on the clients. Eve places the Clinic’s importance in bringing technology to those who need it the most, and ironically, those who may not have been totally au-fait with this technology before their aphasia diagnosis. That this technology, which is usurping pen and paper, can be brought into the realm of those who truly need it, helping them communicate with family and friends, cutting down on isolation, is essential. As Eve remarked, “the Clinic is innovative, on-trend, and forward looking … Subsequently the clients become forward looking too”. The reactions of the various clients are incredibly emotive.

The essence of what CommuniCATE is trying to do, is captured in the simple words of one of Eve’s clients who was undertaking a writing strand of therapy using an iPad. “You’ve helped me so much and I have had my ability to communicate returned to me!” In particular, he has found the basic ‘Notes’ application particularly helpful. Through setting goals, ones initially very difficult to achieve, his use of this application has now become second nature.

Eve is now working as an NHS therapist in Surrey, dealing with adults who have acquired communication difficulties and swallowing difficulties. She hopes to stay in this field and perhaps explore areas such as dementia and aphasia. Indeed, Eve loves the sense of community in her current role. Staying in a particular area for a long time will give her the opportunity to see the impact of her work and how people overcome their difficulties through her help.

Find out more on the CommuniCATE Blog: https://blogs.city.ac.uk/communicate/

Care Leavers Initiative – ‘City Cares’

Cass Future Fund.

An undergraduate in the second year of her Business Studies degree, Sara is unequivocal about the difference that City Cares and the Cass Future Fund donors have made to her life. She told us:

“Reassurance and confidence are the two things that I get from the bursary and all of the extra-curricular support that City Cares provides. Without that, I may well have thought twice about embarking upon these studies; with it, I feel that I am flourishing and getting closer to my best possible self. I have always been prone to only looking a few months ahead, and that I’m now looking at what I want to do once I graduate, and where I’d like to be in ten years’ time, is something that truly amazes me. I will never take this support for granted, and I thank all those who have donated and contributed to City Cares.”

Indeed, helping young care leavers and estranged students to achieve their academic potential through our dedicated care programme is a priority at Cass. Breaking the social care cycle is essential in giving these young adults the chance to see a promising future unfold.

With that in mind, we aim to not only attract more care leavers to the Business School and University through our outreach work, but when they are here we ensure that they have access to a comprehensive support package that includes an annual bursary, a designated member of staff to offer them practical and pastoral support, priority accommodation that extends through the summer, and, priority for professional mentoring and mental health monitoring.

Thank you so much for continuing to make this possible.

Making the most of your next adventure

Alumni Stories.

Blake ReddyFrom being a Stelios scholar to going into business with easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Blake Reddy (MSc Banking and International Finance, 2012) has now created a new platform – easyGuide – that enables tourists to plan their trips around their interests and book tickets for various activities and experiences.

Find out more about Blake and easyGuide here:

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

As a Sir Stelios scholar I graduated from Cass Business School in 2012 with an MSc in Banking and International Finance. The experience was probably the most valuable year of education I have had, obtaining a significant amount of industry insight, vast practical knowledgeable versus just theoretical and excellent networking opportunities.

I had my mind set on working in finance and Cass certainly helped with enabling me to successfully pursue a career in the industry.

What happened after you graduated?

After graduating from Cass, I took an investment management role in the City, but found that the pace of where I was at was not as fast paced as I had hoped for or imagined.

Early on in my career I decided to start an investment management firm of my own, focusing on providing high-net-worth private clients with a holistic investment strategy. This decision was a reflection of my longer term goals of owning and building my own business(es).

After six years in finance, I began to see the emergence and growth of tourists enjoying “living like a local”. Airbnb really pioneered this with tourists choosing to stay in local accommodation versus hotels and more recently through Airbnb Experiences.

I ended up choosing to start a new venture with Sir Stelios called easyGuide; a platform that enables tourists to discover and book tickets instantly to hundreds of exciting in-destination activities and experiences.

How did easyGuide come about?

easyGuide was the result of finding a number of pain points when travelling to various cities in Europe and never having a reliable and simple solution to discover the best things to do and instantly book tickets from my phone.

This, combined with the sector as a whole beginning to grow exponentially, led me to pitch Sir Stelios the idea and when it became apparent I could use the easy brand it was an opportunity I felt passionate about and had to pursue.

Sir Stelios is now an investor and shareholder in easyGuide as we look to grow our presence across Europe.

What have been the biggest challenges?

As with all start-up companies, wearing many hats and managing all aspects of the business is very challenging, although it can also be the most exciting.

You have to be good with the numbers to ensure you manage the capital well and allocate resources correctly. You have to be good at sales and marketing to ensure you can raise capital when needed and actually sell your product to customers. You have to be a HR professional, ensuring you find and hire the best talent. You have to be the head of operations and make sure all your systems and controls never fail. The list goes on…

What has been the most rewarding experience?

I found the first six years of my career working in finance to be a mixture of highs and lows; when the sole objective is to generate a return on your client’s investment the actual sense of reward was fairly limited as it was purely monetary.

My most rewarding experience is therefore having the sense of building something with easyGuide which members of the public from around the world can experience and enjoy. When you receive a great review or recommendation from a customer from the other side of the world you know you have actually added enjoyment to someone’s trip.

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

People often tell you to follow your passions. In the literal sense, this isn’t good advice, but it should be considered to a certain extent. Find what interests you and what makes you jump out of bed in the morning. If you’re not excited to start your day then what are you really doing…

Once you have identified those interests start doing your homework and really prepare. We live in a world now where you can reduce the risk to very low levels before embarking on a new journey.

You can test your ideas quicker than ever and at a very low cost, so manage the risk by understanding what works and what doesn’t as fast as possible and iterate quickly along the way.

Your biggest risk isn’t failing, but it’s in wasting time.

Thank you to Blake for sharing his story! If you’d like to find out more about easyGuide, visit: http://www.easyguide.biz

Building a veterinary empire

Alumni Stories.

Dr.AndrewMoffatt-CEO (1)With a long-standing ambition to become a veterinary hospital owner, Dr Andrew Moffatt (Executive MBA, 2011) was determined to make his dream job a reality. Although it was initially a challenge to get a foot in the door, Andrew persevered and is now the CEO of VetnCare, Inc., a veterinary management company, which currently owns and operates seven animal hospitals in California, USA. This number is set to at least double during 2020, following a new partnership with Petco, a national pet retailer with over 1,500 stores.

Find out more about Andrew, his time at Cass and his business here:

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

My time at Cass, was a pivotal turning point in my professional career. Most of my experience had been in small business units (veterinary hospitals) until I started in May, 2009. I had no formal business training to support my entrepreneurial aspirations. I’d been wanting to go to business school since my late teens. All my studies had been in maths and science, which didn’t afford me time to obtain a formal business education. It was a couple of friends, who were considering business school who introduced me to Cass. I was in London working and it just seemed like the right time. I applied to the Executive Programme and was accepted. At the time, I believe I was the only veterinarian to have applied to the programme. At 26, I was also the youngest in my class.

With a complete lack of corporate experience and business knowledge, I just sat there in awe, learning through diffusion. We had a wonderful class. Thirty-three nationalities, a rich diversity of personas, experiences and views. Our class, was also social, friendly and supportive. It was an incredibly memorable time of my life. I wish I could do it all over again.

At Cass Business School, I developed a real passion for change management. The Entrepreneurial Centre also developed my primitive entrepreneurial flare into something more robust.

It was tough to balance my relationship, day job and business school at the same time. We didn’t have a lot of money in those days. My girlfriend (now wife) lent me her savings (10,000 pounds) to pay for my course one semester when I couldn’t afford to pay the tuition costs. She also supported me through the programme, which was all-consuming.

What happened after you graduated?

The confidence I gained through the programme gave me the strength to take on new challenges.

I’d always wanted to be a veterinary hospital owner. I worked as a senior clinician and multi-site operations manager at various hospitals in the UK while I was at business school. At the time in the British veterinary industry, there was a fierce consolidation battle occurring and I couldn’t get my foot in the door. Disenchanted, I was going to make the move into human hospital operations.

One day that all changed. I received a call from a friend from vet school, Dr. Jerob Leaper, who wanted to buy his great uncle’s vet hospital in Castro Valley, California (Groveway Veterinary Hospital). He didn’t have the operational experience to do it by himself, so we decided to take on the project together. Jo (my wife) and I immigrated to California at the end of 2011. Dr. Russ Hackler (the owner at the time) offered me a job at the start of 2012, and we bought Groveway from Russ in April 2012.

How did your business idea come about?

It was Russ’s incredible legacy at Groveway Veterinary Hospital which fuelled the concept of a larger group. Why couldn’t exceptional independent hospitals collaborate to improve their ability to compete with the big guys? Jerob, Jo, Teresa (Jerob’s wife) and I learned so much in these early days! We made lots of mistakes but never made the same mistake twice. I remember early on, we couldn’t afford to paint the interior of the hospital, so the four of us and many of the staff came in on the weekend and did it ourselves (nourished by pizza and beer!). So many employees (past and present) have contributed so much to get us to where we are now. Shortly after that, we purchased Pinole Pet Hospital. With the acquisition of our second site, VetnCare, the management company, was established by Jo and I in 2013. As the number of hospitals grew, so did the expertise of the VetnCare management team. We’ve got pretty good at this over the last eight years, but still have lots to learn. We thoroughly enjoy every opportunity we get to expand the VetnCare family and have lots of fun doing so!

What have been the biggest challenges?

The thing I found most challenging as the founder of a fast-growing business was getting the work-life balance right. I was so focused on the business and its success that I failed to give the necessary attention to my wife, family and friends. I forgot a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, weddings and births. I regret this. You can never get these moments back. Going forward I intend to get this right. Be present in every moment. Passionate for every person in your life. These things are so important. Success isn’t worth anything if you’ve got no one to share it with. I’d rather be loved and poor, than rich and lonely.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The most rewarding part of the whole experience for me has been the way our team has come together. Unfairly, I get all the credit for the group’s success. In reality, it is the amazing efforts of our teams who have propelled the reputation and success of our hospitals. Hard-working people, who are energised and unified by a goal to provide our animal patients and their human parents with incredible, clinical care.

I have a real passion for education. We’ve always tried to provide opportunities for our colleagues so that they can advance themselves. We finance the education programmes for our nurses and provide advanced clinical training for all our clinical teams. Promotion in our organisation is based on the advancement and progression of skills and knowledge.

We have quite a few employees who have climbed our organisation’s ranks through hard work, determination and education. It’s a great feeling to have built the platform that allows these people to succeed. If all our team members can succeed and grow on this exciting journey, then we are on the right track!

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

The following six principles have been pivotal elements of our success:

  1. Build a reputation in your chosen industry of excellence, fairness, honesty and collaboration.
  2. Become the employer of choice – to become this you need two things – the best HR team possible (best processes, best recruitment strategies), and the willingness to invest in your people – best education, best equipment, best leaders.
  3. Surround yourself with the most talented people you can afford (Accountants, Attorneys, Management Executives, Operators)
  4. Maintain accurate and timely financial statements. Keep a close eye on your business’s financials performance.
  5. Give to your communities and industry – if you give to these two groups, you’ll always get good karma back. Become a Centre of Education for your fellow professionals and students. Support schools and colleges. Give kindly to the charities and NPOs in your communities.
  6. Try to keep control of your company. Especially if you’re in professional services. Avoid private equity if you can. Always opt for a slower growth rate and control, than fast growth, and loss of control. Non-professionals will never prioritise your professional values and goals like you do. Instead, consider joint ventures, industry lenders, angel financing, family financing etc. There’s always a way to find the money!

Things I wish I’d done better:

  1. Hired talented executives to help me, earlier than I did.
  2. Invest equally in your family and relationships. Without them, you can’t be your best self.

Thank you to Andrew for sharing his story! If you’d like to find out more about VetnCare, visit: https://vetncare.com/

MBA Thesis given the ‘sign’ of approval by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Alumni Stories.

FabrizioFabrizio Nicoli (Executive MBA in Dubai, 2014), shares how his fantastic opportunity to complete his MBA Thesis project at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s not-for-profit organisation, R20 – Regions of Climate Action, has secured him a representative role in the Middle East.

Find out more about Fabrizio here:

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

Having lived in Dubai for the last 10 years, I undertook the Executive MBA at the age of 31 at the institution in the United Arab Emirates. This was alongside my full-time employment at the leading conglomerate Group of Dubai. Being a full-time employee while doing the MBA taught me how to optimize my time. This included adding hours of study to my days, finding motivation to study during evenings and weekends for over two years and carrying out the MBA Thesis for an additional period of seven months.

I carried out my MBA Thesis project on finance and strategy at R20 – Regions of Climate Action (R20), a not-for-profit international organisation founded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which supports sub-national governments around the world to develop and secure financing for green infrastructure projects.

What happened after you graduated?

During my MBA studies, I became a commercial director of a leading European construction company. Once I graduated, I was then appointed as a general manager there, which involved me setting up a new branch in Dubai. Within five years, our business has gone from a startup level to having work in the Middle East, Singapore, South Asia and Australia.

After graduation, I also had the opportunity to become a representative for the R20 Group in Dubai. I developed a strategic plan, including extensive research on the green investment market and investors’ appetite for sustainable infrastructure projects in the Gulf Region, for the deployment of an R20 regional office in the Middle East.

How did the opportunity to get involved with R20 happen?

My Idea to get in touch with R20 came about in 2011. As soon as I started the MBA, I realised that the masters would provide me the knowledge, the capability, the credibility and the confidence necessary to work in any industry, along with professionals of global companies that before the MBA, seemed to be far away from my profile.

I had the opportunity to first meet Gov. Schwarzenegger at a fundraising event in California in 2008. I later learned he had founded an NGO dedicated to sustainable infrastructure projects which focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Their approach, which essentially consists of “connecting the dots” between local authorities, who want to develop projects which have the technologies and investors and can fund project implementation, was particularly interesting to me in the context of the Gulf regions. I contacted R20’s management and presented my idea to carry out my MBA thesis with them – a strategic plan for the Gulf Region and for the creation of a regional office in the Middle East.

What have been the biggest challenges?

This has been the easiest question to answer. When you have a vision and you are passionate about what you do, nothing is seen as a challenge. The new things learned every day and the small achievements overcome the majority of the daily challenges, even when you have to match multiple cultures, projects or investments between Europe, Arabian countries and Asia.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to attend high-level meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. This includes when we were preparing for COP21 in Paris in 2015 and at the R20 Austrian World Summit in Vienna in May 2019. The R20 team, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, a number of heads of states and sustainability professionals from around the world were all in attendance. The opportunity to have personally met Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger twice in four years and to have presented him with my MBA project has truly been a lifetime achievement.

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

My personal advice is to have a clear vision of which business you want to do or in which industry you want to work in. Be motivated and passionate about your project and vision, and work hard to be a part of it.

I would suggest not to wait till the end of the MBA course to receive the proposal to carry out the MBA project. It is important to visualise what you want to be before the completion of the MBA, then you can create the necessary connections within the industry. Get in touch with the decision makers of the company where you dream to work at and talk to them about your project. All of this should be done before you complete the MBA.

Thank you to Fabrizio for sharing his success with us! If you would like to find out more about him, follow him on Twitter: @fabrinicoli

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