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Income insurance for millennials

Alumni Stories.

 

Affordable, Digital and Instant Income Insurance

Reza

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.

Postgraduate careers update

Careers.

Sarah Juillet, Director of Business School Postgraduate Careers and Professional Development:

Sarah JuilletThe Postgraduate Careers team would like to thank our alumni who, over the past few months, have been wonderful in supporting our postgraduate students with their time for virtual chats, sponsoring MBA Business Mastery Projects and joining us for live virtual ‘coffee mornings’ to share their advice and knowledge. The next year will be challenging in many ways and being part of this community will provide essential support for those graduating and starting their courses this year.

As postgraduate alumni, don’t forget that you too benefit from access to a suite of resources to help support your career and professional development. Through links on your Careers Online homepage you can access alumni resources including: job search advice and resources for company research; industry sector factsheets; interview and selection advice and practice; a suite of expert-led webinars on career progression, career change and leadership; and access to paid-for subscription sites such as PayNegotiation.com. Remember to check back regularly as we will be releasing new webinars and interviews over the summer months.

You can also utilise Careers Online to help you identify and target Business School talent efficiently by posting jobs, or to find and apply for jobs yourself.

For any queries or if you would like to support postgraduate students, please contact cass-careers@city.ac.uk.

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

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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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