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Keeping motivated during your studies and working life

Alumni Stories.

MandeepRecent graduate Mandeep Kaur (Computing Science, 2018) reflects on her time studying at City and how the experience has supported her with entering the working world. Mandeep also provides useful tips for others who are graduating and hoping to make the most of their career.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

My first day at City was an important event in my life, as I was the first in my family to attend university. To me it is an unforgettable day. I first became a student at City when I was 18 years old (2015), studying Computer Science. I entered the City premises with new hopes and aspirations. I was glad to that the city presented a new sight, it was quite different from what I had seen at school. I found all newly admitted students in high spirits. They were all happy to make new friends. This was one of the best things I have ever done, meeting new friends, making memories.

I really enjoyed my course, and the opportunities it’s given me. City is very international as a university. Learning about different cultures and customs, and their differences and similarities with mine, was very interesting, and made for great relationships. Joining different societies, interacting with other students.

Most of my professors and tutors were very good, and showed passion in the subject they were teaching. They were always available for any questions we had too. I felt that most lectures were very clear and straightforward. Overall, City was one of the greatest experiences. Walking down the hall in July 2018, holding a degree in my hand was a milestone.

What happened after you graduated?

After graduation, it was another battle between the next steps to go for a postgraduate degree or take a break have an experience and then come back to studies.

I choose to continue with my part-time job, and start the search with graduate roles. A lot of time was spent on correcting my CV, searching for jobs, hoping to get a call for an interview. In addition, City’s Professional Liaison Unit was very helpful, and provided great insights to review my CV and give me tips on interviews.

In September 2018, I started my graduate role as a Network Planning Engineer at TATA Consulting Services, a prestigious and multinational information technology company. Thus, began the journey of my 9 to 5 working life.

How did you get into your career?

Often, getting a job means you have landed you dream job. During the journey to becoming a Network Planning Engineer, I came to realise that “I was not learning and I was not enjoying the role”. I had to decide to change my job. Do I keep the job where there is financial, job security throughout your life or do I begin to search new roles? Again, it was the process of correcting CV, waiting for interview calls, getting nervous answering those calls and having insecurities about not getting the job. Applying for jobs is quite the process – getting rejected due lack of experience or someone with better grades.

Despite searching for jobs for a few months, alongside working and producing the best work for the company, I received couple of calls. It was time to think about what I would enjoy doing for work, plus the usual aspects of financial, progress security. I landed a role with the Royal Bank of Scotland, as Technical Product Specialist. The role consists of managing stakeholders, including third party software providing internal and external vendors, across multiple time zones. I am also developing an online knowledge base of known issues/solutions to share with colleagues, customers, both locally and overseas. Furthermore, helping to re-design the CRM system to collect comprehensive triage and implementation of product support. My role is fulfilling and I enjoy what I do. The team is amazing and the support around the co-workers is fantastic. I will be continuing to grow my skills sets from communications to product life cycle management and focus on progress with the company or any opportunities that comes along.

Lastly, being visible on sites such as LinkedIn, helped me to progress in my career, do not ignore any message by recruiter, or don’t hesitate to add new people to your network. Growing you network means growing opportunities for yourself.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The most rewarding experience is when the work you put in is being recognised and appreciated. Overcoming the challenges, set on daily basis or the unexpected.

It is also great to make an impact at work – how the business operates and how your work helped the company to achieve a certain goal.

What has been the biggest challenges to working life?

The biggest challenge was to overcome the fear of what will people think of your idea – how they might react or wondering if it is a good idea to mention or not. You should believe in yourself and express your views and points, where you feel like you have something to contribute.

Another challenge was the rejection from the jobs I applied for. Even though, rejections are part of life we often step back and let the ONE email determine who we are. So, overcoming this is a positive step – if you get rejected, apply for another one. If the role is right for you will get it.

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

I think we should all choose our own footsteps. But I would like to remind everyone, if you are graduating – you do not need to rush into accepting the first job you land. Think, will you be happy doing what the job requires, will you enjoy the job and the environment? Nothing is worth it if you are not happy where you are.

Do not be afraid to take a step back and think about the circumstances again, if you want to change your job, change it! There are plenty of opportunities around us every day. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help, someone to talk to.

Do not be disheartened, if you have not landed your dream job on the first go. Work towards it, get every experience you can and never be afraid to commit to a new challenge.

Finally, it is challenging to find a job. Make yourself visible on sites such as Linkedln – show your skills, if anyone calls you for opportunities, do not ignore the message. Even if you are not looking for the opportunities, you never know how your future and career can change. Spend time on career websites to see what is around the world, how business are working, what is in demand. However, there is so much competition around us, so just remind yourself to always be ready to take a challenge and convert failure/rejections into learning experience and constructive feedback. Each time you fail or get rejected from a job application, try to remember failure is not the opposite of success, IT IS A PART OF SUCCESS!

Do not compare your progress with others, everyone learns on their own terms.

Enjoy your time at university, take every opportunity to be a part of City. Go out with friends, after all they might be your best man or bridesmaid at your wedding!

Mohamed Farid Saleh (Quantitative Finance, 2008) takes home prestigious prize at British Council Alumni Awards in Egypt

Alumni Stories.

In 2012, Mohamed Farid Saleh (Quantitative Finance, 2008) founded Dcode EFC, a leading economic and financial forecasting and advisory firm in Egypt, which went on to grow successfully despite being established during a time of economic uncertainty. This commitment to help businesses and organisations to better face improve economic uncertainty across the country rightfully earned Mohamed the Entrepreneurial Award at the Study UK Alumni Awards in Egypt earlier on this year.

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

Congratulations on winning the Entrepreneurial Award at the Study UK Alumni Awards! What does this new title mean to you?

It means a lot to me. It is a recognition for an effort and risk taken in a period of extreme difficulty. Moreover, receiving this recognition after I left the entrepreneurial project indicates its sustainability of impact. Being a Study UK Alumni Award winner from the British Council is an honour and recognition that anyone who has studied in the UK would want to receive, especially that’s based on a competitive process.

If we go back a little, can you tell me about your time at Cass and what happened after you graduated?

My time at Cass was challenging and rewarding at the same time. The challenge came from the fact that my chosen course covered both rigorous theory and practice, which required several hours to be put into studies compared to other courses, and of course from the fact that 2008 was the year of the financial crisis. The rewarding part was being close to all investment firms and banks, which enabled me to create networks that are of great value for my career and are considered an asset.

After graduating in 2008, I joined the Egyptian Ministry of Investment (MoI) as a Senior Financial Economist and Head of Capital Markets and Economics Unit. The unit was mandated to handle several projects, including Egypt’s capital market development, and monitoring the performance of all regulatory bodies governing the non-bank financial services. In 2010, I was appointed as the Vice Chairman of The Egyptian Exchange to 2011, which was one of the most turbulent times facing Egypt’s capital markets as it was during the January 2011 revolution, the Arab spring.

After finishing my term in 2011, I decided with a group of entrepreneurs and economists to found the currently prominent consulting firm, Dcode Economic and Financial Consulting (Dcode EFC). It provided a wide array of consulting services among which is economic intelligence and rigorous economic forecasting in a period of serious economic ambiguity to cater for the needs of private businesses, international and domestic investors. Dcode EFC‘s economic forecasts and scenario analysis was a corner stone for many businesses to design responses to economic shocks and variables such as foreign exchange and interest rate movements, economic and consumption growth…etc. Furthermore, economic policy advocacy was another line of business that enabled the private businesses voice to be heard in a period of economic ambiguity that smeared all expansion and operational plans of companies in Egypt.

In August 2017, I left Dcode EFC to embark on another endeavour and I was appointed as Chairman of The Egyptian Exchange. What was really rewarding about my exit was the continuation and expansion of the company after I left. Founding a startup and ensuring that along the way you are setting the sufficient processes and institutionalisation is one of the biggest challenges in start-ups. Having succeeded in establishing a sustainable business that is not dependent on the founders for surviving is the most important aspect. It is one of the key successes that any entrepreneur should be looking for.

So, tell us how Dcode EFC came about?

The idea of this firm came about from analysing the economic and political situation in Egypt around end of 2011. The economic policy making set-up was tarnished by January 2011 revolution, and hence, the economic uncertainty regarding the policy and economic responses raised the questions about how would the policymakers respond from the one hand, and how would the economy, investors, consumers and other players respond from the other hand to such uncertainty.

Encouraged by the co-founders to be, we started the journey of developing a business plan and further analysing the idea and if it indeed, could be a revenue generating idea sufficient to found a business on it. The quest of further studying the idea started in December 2011, and the establishment of Dcode EFC took place in September 2012.

What were the most rewarding aspects of starting the business?

There are several rewarding experiences in this journey. The first and foremost, is seeing the company grow and the number of employees doubling from a year to another. The second, is witnessing the positive impact of Dcode EFC‘s advice on businesses that have been served and especially the small and medium enterprises. This positive impact is what Dcode EFC had targeted and even considered it its slogan; “Advice is judged by results, not intentions”. The third, is fostering the idea of Dcode EFC to grow, and the brand to grow within and beyond the borders of Egypt. The final rewarding experience, is the company growing despite exiting this venture, resigning from being the Chairman and CEO and seeing my successors continue building the processes of Dcode EFC to ensure its sustainable path.

What were the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge regarding the idea of Dcode EFC was to show potential clients with the value of services. Usually, start-ups always start with a semi-quantifiable market demand. At Dcode EFC, we initially created the demand, only to a point whereby the potential was unleashed when clients tested the services, and tested the rigours and accuracy of Dcode EFC‘s economic intelligence and policy advocacy services.

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

My first piece of advice is not to follow mine, or anyone else’s footsteps. It always has to come from within. However, I can provide some points to be taken into consideration for any person willing to embark on a new business or venture as follows:

  1. A good idea is not enough, the co-founders and team are crucial for the initial success for any start-up. The team’s solidarity should be tested not only in good times, but it is during conflicts and bad times that would reveal how well is the team positioned to create value, and work on turning the idea to reality.
  2. Creating start-ups is not an easy endeavour, it requires perseverance, ambiguity tolerance, and most importantly resourcefulness and teamwork.
  3. Be ok with losing before being happy with wins. This is the only way that would enable the entrepreneur to stand on his feet after defeats, that would happen, and often.
  4. Finally, always remember, it is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t be overconfident with early big wins, it is about the repetitive wins, even if small ones.

 

Living through giving: Supporting the community and spreading the love

COVID-19 Heroes.

While the Indian government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi has taken a “prevention is better than cure” approach in India to flatten the curve of Coronavirus, Priyanka Amit Shah (Marketing Strategy and Innovation, 2018) told us about the devastating impact the current crisis is having on daily-wage earners and her efforts to support them.

Priyanka said: “Most of the citizens that are employed in the informal sector such as the daily-wage earners do not enjoy the benefits of sick/paid leave and lack any kind of insurance. They also, unfortunately, do not have access to services like a pension, with very few possessing bank accounts. They earn in cash and are the sole breadwinners of their families, feeding four to five children on an average. Not to forget, the migrant workers and the floating population who are also suffering tremendously. They are stranded and have nothing to fall back upon. They fear that hunger will kill them before coronavirus does.”

Feeling grateful for having access to food, shelter, family and friends, Priyanka explains that she can’t rest until she gives back to her community: “My family and I are active members of the Rotary Club of Mumbai Queens Necklace and we have been contributing to sponsor daily meals for the families of A K Munshi School of Special Children in Mumbai. The Club has also been working in partnership with Annamrita Cares – an initiative against COVID-19 to help serve 6,647,073 meals across India. To date, the Club has helped sponsor 130,000 meals per day during the lockdown. We have also been providing protective gear and testing kits to the JJ Hospital in Mumbai.

With many of the population in India in the senior citizen’s category, Priyanka and her family have been volunteering to help elderly people with purchasing groceries and medicines or even running unavoidable errands to minimise their exposure to contamination and any risk on their lives. Some of their life-saving work has been highlighted in the Hindustan Times – India’s leading daily newspaper.

Being a Director at Letters of Love, a youth-led international non-profit organisation based in the United States of America, Priyanka has been working on launching a new campaign called #DearHeroes.

Priyanka explains: “The #DearHeroes global letter-writing campaign is our effort at extending a hand in gratitude to the thousands of medical staff who are at the frontline, risking their lives and waging this battle at the forefront. A letter of love is to let them know that we see them as human beings, we admire their resilience and that we are endlessly grateful. A letter is a humble attempt at spreading smiles to those who deserve it the most. It is a token of hope, personalised with a warm message which is written by hand by our team of volunteers in the native language of the receiver, doodled with colours and signed off in your name.

“After sending more than 50,000 letters to refugee children around the world, today, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are refocusing our attention to write letters to the Heroes of the Hour – Doctors and Nurses. To thank our heroes, one letter at a time!”

Priyanka concludes with this very inspirational statement: “Every day, I wake up with a thought that today is not just another day. Today, I’ll create something beautiful. Today, I’ll make a difference. Today, I’ll give back. I’ve always been a believer that we are not meant to bear what we find unpleasant, we are meant to change it.”

Delivering personal protective equipment to those on the frontline

COVID-19 Heroes.

When the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically spread across the UK in just a matter of weeks, Chair of Harrow Carers Manoj Varsani (Modular Executive MBA, 2017 and Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence, 2007) experienced firsthand the huge and critical impact of the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage. As the founder of a fintech company called Hammock, Manoj enlisted the support of his co-founder Marco Ferrari (Modular Executive MBA, 2017), and the rest of their team to ensure NHS organisations and charities receive the PPE supplies they urgently require at a fair price. As such SOS Supplies was born in just 24 hours!

Since Hammock set up this new initiative, SOS Supplies, the team has recruited over 20 volunteers, which has enabled them to work with more than 150 organisations and deliver over 400,000 pieces of PPE to various charities and organisations. To support this work, SOS Supplies has completed its first fundraiser of £5,000 and is in the process of running a second one in partnership with Harrow Carers to raise £15,000. All the money raised is being spent on PPE for organisations working with SOS Supplies, so if you would like to and are able to, please do donate.

Marco (left) said: “SOS Supplies complements our professional efforts by helping us feel that we can do something to help with the COVID-19 pandemic and that we don’t have to just accept the current reality as is.

“The stories we hear from the organisation we’re helping – from large established charities like Marie Curie to small local groups – always bring an injection of positive energy and hope in our day-to-day.”

Manoj concluded: “We’re very lucky that Hammock is a digital business and provides services that can be offered despite the COVID-19 outbreak. Our company is still very young, so there is always a lot to do, but we’re finding that this helps us keep our minds focused and reduces the risk of falling victim to anxiety during this complex time.”

A huge thank you to Manoj and Marco for sharing their story and for all the incredible work they are doing to ensure frontline staff have the PPE they truly need! Follow the team on Twitter to find out more.

Alumni recognised in 2020 New Year Honours list

Alumni Stories.

Each year the New Year’s Honours list recognises the achievements and services of people across the UK, from all walks of life. Alongside many famous names, such as Olivia Newton-John and cricketer Ben Stokes OBE, City is delighted to share that seven of our alumni have been recognised for their commitment to various services, including healthcare, inclusiveness, homelessness, entrepreneurship, music and dance.

Congratulations to all of the alumni recognised!

Here are your City, University of London alumni on the New Year Honours list:

  • Mrs Jeanette A Howe (MHM Health Management, 1993)
    • OBE for services to Pharmacy
    • Howe has been one of the most influential figures in shaping community pharmacy for the past two decades. She was a major influence behind the 2004-05 ‘new contract’ and was the lead responsible officer in the Department of Health for the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme. Howe was a lead government negotiator for the most recent round of community pharmacy contractual reforms which saw £208 million cut from the pharmacy contractual reforms. She is also credited as being largely responsible for the creation of the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education in 1991, following the publication of the ‘Promoting Better Health’ white paper in 1987, and was instrumental in managing its survival through subsequent NHS re-organisations and changes of government.
  • Professor Dr Jane Melton (PhD Nursing, 2010)
    • MBE for services to Mental Health and People with Learning Disabilities
    • Professor Melton has worked with people who have learning disabilities and people experiencing mental illness for the majority of her 30-year NHS career. Her exceptional service and outstanding contribution to her profession was recognised in 2012 when she was awarded a Fellowship of the royal College of Occupational Therapists. Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Paul Roberts said: “This honour is richly deserved. Jane has made a huge contribution to improving the lives of people who use our services, as well as furthering developments in therapy and recovery-focused programmes for people with mental health and learning disability conditions locally, nationally and internationally.”
  • Ms Polly (Mary) J Neate (PG Dip Periodical Journalism, 1989)
    • CBE for services to Homelessness
    • Neate has led on public policy, campaigns, research, communications, brand, fundraising and the relaunch of one of the UK’s largest charities, Action for Children. As well as leading all the organisation’s external influencing activities, she developed organisational strategy and led significant cultural change and staff engagement programmes. Neate is a journalist by profession with her last job as a journalist being editor of Community Care, a major weekly title for professionals in children’s services and social care, which under her control included two magazines as well as web-based products and large-scale events. She won several awards as an editor, both for journalism and campaigning. She has been a member of several advisory and working groups for government and opposition. Neate was recently voted one of the Top 30 charity CEOs on Twitter.
  • Ms Judith Palmer (MA Cultural Management, 2009)
    • MBE for services to Dance
    • Palmer is the CEO African Heritage UK and an independent dance artist with an expertise in African dance. Her specialism is analysing and teaching the forms she worked with Adzido Pan-African dance Ensemble as Principal dancer. Palmer was Chair of the Board of the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora for six years and spent 14 years with the IRIE. She is currently running African Heritage UK which is a unique agency that delivers masterclasses, technique training, and mentoring for artists working within the genre.
  • Mr Michael Plaut (Marketing MBA, 1986)
    • OBE for services to Business and Entrepreneurship
    • Plaut is the Managing Director of Northmace & Hendon, a leading hospitality company founded by his father and fellow City alumnus Rudi Plaut CBE (Civil Engineering, 1954). Between 2016 and 2018, he was the Chairman of CBI Wales, helping to make Wales more prosperous. Plaut has advised the Shadow Cabinet on SME business policy and has regularly commented on business and economic matters on both national and regional television and radio. He chaired and co-authored a report for a Welsh think tank titled “Wales: time for a realistic perspective” and the CBI’s influential report “Facing the Future”. He has also worked as investment banker, involved in capital raising, flotations, and latterly mergers & acquisitions. Michael is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and is a Trustee of The Lady Tangye Charitable Trust.
  • Mr Harry Virdee (Mathematical Sciences, 2004)
    • BEM for services to the BAME community and to Diversity and Inclusion
    • Virdee won the award for his charitable work in his capacity as trustee for the City Sikhs Foundation. He is a leading supporter and advocate for City Sikhs since it was founded in October 2010 as a network for British Sikh professionals. His vision, guidance and advise has seen it develop into one of the leading Sikh organisations in the country with more than 7,000 individual members. Throughout his life, he has championed diversity and fairness. He also has worked with a number of charities to raise awareness amongst the BAME community on issues such as promoting living organ donations and bone marrow transplants.
  • Dr Roy Wales (MA Arts Administration, 1979)
    • BEM for services to Choral Music
    • Wales is well known for creating and directing the annual Spring Music Festival and Rottingdean Arts, which promotes musical events on the Terraces Stage and in other village venues. He has directed more than 30 music and arts festivals in the past. With more than 50 years of extensive international experience as a conductor and in educational and arts management, he has been the director of many music schools and has sang at the Royal Opera House, while being the conductor of many orchestras and choirs. He is currently Music Director of the English Concert Orchestra, English Concert Singers and Chorus and The London Chorale.

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.

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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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