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Discover how a City Journalism alumna explores the Caribbean Irish and the making of the slave myth!

Alumni Stories, Uncategorized.

Miki Garcia posing in IranCity’s Journalism alumna Miki Garcia (International Journalism, 1998) has pursued a successful and fascinating career in the sector, having utilised her time as a student at City to ensure that she takes away all she could from the course. Miki interned at Reuters and persistently carved out her spot in the industry. Having already written about humanitarian topics before starting her course in City, Miki had more than enough experience and passion to follow her professional dreams – this saw her living in locations all around the world. In time Miki developed into an academic researcher and a freelance consultant, dealing with topics like Brexit, world wars, cancer immunotherapy etc.

She has written and published several books relating to the Irish Diaspora as Irish history is her lifelong passion. The Caribbean Irish: How the Slave Myth was Made is one of the products of this passion. The latest in Miki’s collection of 6 publications Caribbean Irish explores the little known fact that the Irish were amongst the earliest settlers in the Caribbean and poses the question, were the Irish people there slaves?

Find out more about Miki and how she came to publish this thoroughly researched historical gem below:

Can you tell me about your time at City?

If my life was a book, the year at City would be one of the most exciting and gripping chapters. I enjoyed and learned immensely. Some of the highlights were that I did my internship at the Reuters’ equities desk/Alertnet and the Independent’s foreign desk. I am so grateful for all the support I received from my classmates and lecturers, and especially I feel privileged to have known late Colin Bickler – Reuter’s veteran war correspondent and human rights advocate – and to call him my mentor. I still vividly remember one of his lectures about abuses of power in real-world contexts. I kept in touch with him and he continued to give me career advice. He was such an inspiration to me.

What happened after you graduated?

I stayed at Alertnet for a while. They had just launched this relief news website. Before I went to City, I had already been writing about human rights issues in Rwanda, Myanmar and the Philippines, so Alertnet was a great place to be. But my dream was to work as a foreign correspondent so I went to work for local newspapers and magazines in Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan and the US. I currently work as a freelance consultant and an academic researcher. I still research, interview people and write – so basically what I am doing is still the same but a bit more in-depth research and I absolutely love it. I also write books.

How did your latest book come about?

I’ve been writing on the Irish Diaspora for many years and have published several books about it. Before City, I did some volunteer work for street workers and people in the Kings Cross area. There were lots of Irish people sleeping rough in the 1990s and the IRA was bombing all over England. To clear so many whys, I immersed myself in Irish history, language and all the rest of it. The Irish Diaspora is truly unique because it was not a one-time event in history but it occurred across centuries and continents involving diverse individuals. I have a lifelong passion for Irish history.

the carribean irish book coverWhat has been the most rewarding experience as an author?

When I started out as a journalist, the internet wasn’t ubiquitous yet. The internet has eventually destroyed the traditional newspaper business/journalism practices. But of course, the internet has lots of advantages. The most rewarding experience (as a journalist/author) is that I receive thank you messages online from all across the world. This truly makes my life worth living. Also, I love talking to people and I feel so privileged to meet notable historical figures and brave individuals – from Henry Kissinger and Gerry Adams to wives of the Taliban and displaced people across the globe.

What has been the most challenging experience?

I had to be immune to rejection.

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

Attending a course is a brilliant idea. City opened so many doors of opportunity for me. Also, I always bump into City-grad journalists in all corners of the world. But just like Steve Jobs said, the most important thing in life is: ‘you’ve got to find what you love’.

Thank you to Miki for sharing her story!

 

Connect with Miki through her Social Media:
Linkedin
Twitter
Instagram

Purchase Miki’s books:
Waterstones
Amazon

 

An exciting and facinating journey from being a journalism student to becoming a novelist!

Alumni Stories, Uncategorized.

Helen Buckley, posing with her first novelHelen Buckley (Journalism and Contemporary History, 2007) was a successful journalism student in City, thriving in the industry by scoring several placements with publications and even a paid internship with an MP. After graduation, Helen took the vast experience she accumulated as a student and channelled that into helping vulnerable and in-need people both in the UK and abroad.

Helen used writing as a medium to manage and understand the difficult situations she was experiencing in her private life. She has managed to get her first novel Star in the Shadows published, already earning positive reviews from readers! Her book tells a story of Kiara, a teen runaway who has found stardom but is fighting the demons of her past in private. In a reveal-all TV interview her story will finally be uncovered, find out what effects Kiara’s confession will have on her fame, fortune and the ones she had left in her past by buying it on Amazon.

Find out more about Helen and how she came to publish her first novel below:

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I really enjoyed my degree at City University. Our degree was a fairly small intake and was run in conjunction with Queen Mary, University of London, so I was a member of both universities.

At City we concentrated on the journalism part of the degree. I did placements at various publications including Health and Fitness magazine, Zest magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, and I also got a paid internship with Emily Thornberry MP – who is the MP for the area where City University is located. It was when she was a fairly new MP and the experience of working in her Commons office was fascinating.

What happened after you graduated?

In my final year, I started volunteering for the charity Young Minds and through that experience, I realised I wanted to focus on work in the charity sector. I started work before I graduated with Stonewall, and stayed there for a few years running their national information service. Once graduating from City I also did an MSc degree in Gender, Sexuality, Politics and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London. Then I spent almost four years in Honduras, working with children and families living in poverty. After that, I returned to work for the Salvation Army, the Council for Disabled Children, and then Age UK.

How did your novel come about?

I started writing seriously as an escape – my husband and I were dealing with infertility and writing helped me to manage the difficult emotions arising from our situation. I completed my first novel and then fell pregnant from IVF!

My novel, Star in the Shadows, was recently published and I’m chuffed to pieces with the positive reviews and feedback I’ve received.

The book is about a teen runaway who becomes a pop star but she carries the shadows of the past with her. The book follows her journey and that of the family she left behind. It’s dramatic and gritty with a dash of romance too.

I’ve just finished writing my second novel and I am writing my third, when my baby son allows me time to write!

What has been the most rewarding experience?

As an author, I think the scariest thing is letting people read your work. I was terrified! When the novel was published a number of book bloggers reviewed it and all the positive comments were so encouraging. Even if the book doesn’t get onto the bestseller lists, I’ll still find that experience so rewarding.

What has been the most challenging experience?

I’m lucky to have found a publisher but it’s a crowded market out there for books so it’s not easy to get your novel noticed.

It’s also been tough to find the time to write. I had to edit the novel when my son was a newborn so I was extremely sleep deprived! Now that’s he’s over six months and sleeps fairly well I get up early to write. Those 5am starts aren’t easy, but it’s the only time I have free to think creatively.

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

Don’t give up! Keep pressing on and get those words down on the page. As Jodi Picoult said, “You can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” My first drafts are often extremely rough, riddled with mistakes and verging on gibberish – but I can work with that.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. It could be the best decision you ever make!

Thank you to Helen for sharing her story!

Take a look at Helen’s website to explore the work she is doing – www.buckleybooks.org

Purchase Star in the Shadows from Amazon, Austin Macauley Publishers or Waterstones

Follow Helen’s activities on her social media: Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Emmy winning journalist recounts her time in City and discusses her impactful work in South Sudan

Alumni Stories, Uncategorized.

Anna Cavell standing at the emmy podium

City graduate Anna Cavell (Television Current Affairs Journalism, 2007) was an ambitious student at City, which landed her with a contract with the BBC as soon as she graduated. Anna worked in newsrooms in London and Moscow for the BBC and RT for three years before moving to report from East Africa almost 10 years ago. She spent 5 years reporting from South Sudan, considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist. In the process, she saw both the good and the bad of humanity, which enabled her to stay motivated to use her career as a tool to assist in the causes of those suffering. In Africa, Anna has reported on topics as diverse as conflict and displacement to arts and culture.

Anna’s dedicated herself to her work, investigating the stories of Ugandan parents, who allege their children were adopted by American families without their knowledge or consent. The documentary earned Anna a News and Documentary Emmy, validating her efforts and giving a huge platform for her monumental documentary Adoption Inc: The Baby Business.

Find out more about Anna and her road to winning an Emmy here :

Can you tell me about your time at City?

The best thing about City was that all of my lecturers were closely connected to industry and had all had impressive careers prior to teaching. This meant that studying there was valuable preparation for a career in journalism and provided students with a network of contacts who were in a position to hire us when we graduated.

What happened after you graduated?

One of our final assessed projects was to make a 30-minute documentary which was shown to people from the industry at the end of the year. The editor of the BBC programme Newsnight came to the screening of those films and commissioned the story made by my team.  This was great as it meant that pretty much as soon as we’d finished the course we went straight to Newsnight to re-make the story with their correspondent.

How would you describe your experience as a foreign correspondent in Africa? 

Reporting from this part of the world has been an enormous privilege and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity. I’ve been here for almost 10 years, 5 of which I spent living and working in South Sudan. I moved here just after it became independent from Sudan and two years later civil war broke out. While there, I reported on some of the most horrific events imaginable – war, massacres, starvation and mass displacement. However, at the same time, I saw some of the greatest acts of courage and experienced enormous kindness from people enduring terrible suffering. Witnessing these events and meeting these people has forever changed my perspective.

What has been the most rewarding experience in your field?

There are so many! In September this year I received an Emmy Award for a documentary I made about fraud in international adoption. It was an investigation I’d worked on for many years so seeing it recognized by people in the industry was wonderful. Seeing the impact of my work is also a perk of the job. I made a documentary about some victims of human trafficking in 2010 and since then they’ve been trying to get justice through the Ugandan courts. The verdict in their case is due to be announced in November this year and it’s unlikely they would have got this far without the media attention. It came as a surprise when I started in this job that often after people experience trauma it comforts them to speak to a journalist. I don’t know why this is, perhaps the interest of strangers validates their grief or suffering, but it’s rewarding to think we can sometimes help, and almost makes up for all the times politicians tell us to sod off!

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to your work?

That really varies according to the situation. In conflict reporting safety, logistics and communications are usually the hardest parts. Working on investigations in Africa can be difficult because public institutions don’t necessarily keep records (or permit access to them) in an orderly way.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to seek a career in journalism?

Learning about how newsrooms and commissioners work is very important. It can be difficult to get a great story to air if it’s the wrong moment, or the wrong angle or the wrong outlet.  Investing time learning about which editors are looking for what is seriously worthwhile, whether you work in-house or freelance.

 

Find out more about Anna – twitter.com/AnnaCavell

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

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/

An established journalist turned novelist, preparing to release a chilling, psychological thriller that will make you think twice about your neighbours!

Alumni Stories, Uncategorized.

Caroline Corcoran (Periodical Journalism, 2003) thrived as a journalist student in City, doing work experience at a teen magazine where she later landed a job. Through her career as a journalist, Caroline discovered a real passion for interviewing people and learning more about the art of writing. To allow flexibility into her schedule Caroline became a freelancer – this enabled her to dedicate enough time to start writing her first novel “Through The Wall“, a creepy psychological thriller said to be “A rival to Gone Girl for its addictive, twisted plot” by STYLIST. 

For her book, Caroline drew inspiration from her own life, combining some personal experiences with a truly chilling story of two neighbours who can hear each other through the thin walls of their apartments. Creating opinions about each other regardless of having never met, until the protagonist notices that something is off. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Find out more about Caroline and how she came to publish her first novel here:

Can you tell me about your time at City?

Gladly! I did the Periodical Journalism Postgraduate Diploma (as it was known then) and it was one of the best years of my life. My first year in London, making some of my closest friends, being creative, learning what sort of writer I was (definitely not a news one), doing all kinds of interesting work and laughing a lot along the way.

Utterly brilliant for contacts too, with work experience, jobs and even now. There’s always a certain nod you do when you meet someone else who went to City, I think…

What happened after you graduated?

I freelanced at a teen magazine called Sugar – I had done work experience there while I was at City – for a few months before a Junior Writer job came up which I got.

I interviewed Beyonce among other things and I loved every day in that job and regularly reeled from the fact someone paid me to do it. After that, I worked at various magazines/ newspapers and climbed the ranks to section/ deputy editor level before I decided in 2013 that I wanted some more flexibility and became a freelancer.

How did your novel come about?

I’ve talked about writing a book for a long time and a time slot came along when it seemed possible. it also helped that I had an idea that I thought might work: that bit of the puzzle had been missing before!

Creatively, Through The Wall came from a couple of ideas that I thought initially were separate books but eventually merged together. One was my experience going through fertility treatment, which I thought wasn’t written about honestly enough in fiction. And two was living in a London flat where I heard my neighbour often but never met them and my imagination running wild about what a situation like that might lead to.

Through The Wall is about two women that live next door to each other, hear each other’s lives through the wall of their flats and build perceptions of one another that are far from accurate. Then the situation escalates, and one of them becomes truly obsessed with the other’s life and wants to make it her own.

It’s an examination of how much we compare ourselves to others, and how damaging that can be. I hope it’s also a good, gripping read!

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The whole publishing process. I have worked with a great agent and brilliant editors who’ve all brought something more to Through The Wall. There are similarities with the magazine process that I’m used to – the cover sell, good quality writing, a lot of edits – but there are also huge differences, and I hadn’t anticipated to what extent they would exist.

So learning about how publishing works has been rewarding, as it’s fascinated me for so long. Seeing the cover of my book for the first time (and its international counterparts, as it’s been sold abroad) was a proper dream come true moment.

What has been the most challenging experience?

Time! Exhaustion! I started writing Through The Wall when I was pregnant, then picked it up when I had a newborn. I edited it when I was pregnant for a second time, and when I had another newborn. I learnt to write fast and focus more though, which is not a bad skill to develop when you’re used to procrastinating and faffing about on social media, as we are all guilty of…

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

Ask around – use your City contacts – and find yourself a brilliant agent.

But before that, get writing and keep writing. Manuscripts loom too large if you stop and leave them for months. Get the words down and edit or delete later. But keep writing and being in the document so it doesn’t start to intimidate you. Oh and take any windows of time you have. Not many people have whole days to dedicate to writing their first book as you’ll likely be working/ studying too so if you wait for those, you won’t start.

Take that half-hour window to start a chapter. Do ten minutes of character work on the bus. Just get going. Personally, I plan chapters – even loosely helps – so that I don’t ever have that sinking ‘What’s next?’ feeling which is another thing that makes you stop writing, when you lose momentum. If you have a plan you always know where you’re going with the narrative, though I know lots of other writers don’t plan so perhaps that’s an individual thing.

Thank you to Caroline for sharing her story!

“Through The Wall” is out October 3rd and is available for pre-order NOW from Amazon and Waterstones.

If you would like to find out more about Caroline’s ventures, please check out her Twitter or Website!

 

Creating an influential business while still studying – how passion and determination pays off!

Alumni Stories, Uncategorized.

With a passion for sports journalism, and the drive necessary to be a successful young entrepreneur, Martin Caparrotta (MA Newspaper Journalism, 2011), together with business partner Kieran Beckles, founded and built The Sport Review website.

Originally having been started as a simple blog on which to practice their sports writing, The Sport Review has grown into an influential fan favourite with millions of page views every month.

Martin learned how to balance his studies and business early to maximise results from both. Soon after starting the website, he gained high-profile attention and received invites to important sporting events.

Find out more about Martin and how he started his business here:

Can you tell me about your time at City?

After having set up The Sport Review during my undergraduate studies, the website gained a small following. My business partner Kieran and I decided to pursue it as a full-time venture after we graduated.

However, I wanted to make sure that I’d be qualified to run the site full time, and also have a safety net if it didn’t work out, so I decided to do an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City.

The course was fantastic, even though it was probably the busiest year of my life up until that point! It really prepared me for life as a journalist. From court reporting to digital journalism, I learnt the skills first-hand that I would need to be able to manage my own publication.

What happened after you graduated?

We started working on the website on a full-time basis and focused on growing its audience. By mid-2013, the site was getting more than one million unique users per month.

We wrote about football, tennis, cricket and rugby union, while also managing the commercial side of the business at the same time. It was challenging at times but it was also highly rewarding.

As well as giving me the tools needed to operate as a digital journalist, the course at City also helped teach me how to think on my feet and while under pressure. We were required to solve problems and come up with solutions at short notice. For example, I often had to prepare for last-minute interviews with experts for news stories whilst having to do research out and about.

The skills I learned from this were particularly useful when it came to building some of the early commercial partnerships that we established with brands such as bet365 and viagogo.

How did your businesses come about?

Myself and my business partner Kieran had set up The Sport Review during our undergraduate degrees, whilst on a year abroad studying in Italy. We both wanted to be sports journalists and were looking for somewhere to practise our writing.

I continued to run the site alongside my studies at City. By that time, we were already gaining media access to some important sports events, such as the Champions League and Fifa World Cup host announcement ceremony.

I remember having to miss the last day of the first term at City to fly to Zurich to cover the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host announcement!

What has been the most rewarding experience?

I remember the first time I attended a Chelsea FC news conference. They were unveiling Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager in the summer of 2011. Most of the world’s media was there, and it was amazing just to be involved, let alone representing my own website.

Over the years, we’ve been incredibly lucky to attend events such as the Europa League final and London 2012 Olympics.

After the continued success of The Sport Review, we launched two new websites in January 2019.

Human Window is a new health, wellness and personal development destination.

helloBARK! is a new resource founded to provide pet owners with information, advice, tips and tricks when it comes to their favourite animals.

Both websites have been growing steadily and they currently have a readership of around 40,000 unique users per month respectively.

What has been the most challenging experience?

The first few months after leaving City were quite challenging. Kieran moved over from Ireland to live in London and there was quite a lot at stake for both of us.

It took time for the site to really pick up and in the meantime, all of my friends from my course at City had landed jobs.

There was plenty of self-doubt during that period, but we just kept pushing ahead – and I’m very glad we did!

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

It’s a cliché, but you really have to keep believing in yourself and moving forward, even when the times get tough.

If you really believe in what you’re working on, then it’s ultimately down to you to make the dream a reality.

 

Thank you to Martin for sharing his story! If you would like to find out more about Martin’s ventures, please check out his Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/martincap/) Twitter or LinkedIn!

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

Transforming years of global work experience into a thrilling spy novel!

Alumni Stories.

Inspired by his successful career in the high technology industry, involving years of travelling the world, author Richard (Rick) Marshall (Applied Physics, 1967) swapped his corporate suit for an author’s pen. His first novel Kuskovo, is a story of ruthless Russian espionage set at the height of the Cold War in the 1970s, and is available on both Amazon and Kindle. In Kuskovo, Rick tells the story of Alex Zoravar, who embarks upon an action-packed, transatlantic trail of intrigue in his search for the truth behind an accident involving his colleague and lover Dr Samantha Endel. At stake is the safety of the world.

Find out more about Rick and his journey into writing his own spy novel here:

Can you tell me about your time at City?

In 1963, when I started at City University, it had just been converted from being a College of Advanced Technology and before that, Northampton College.

I did a ‘college-based’, 4-year ‘sandwich’ degree with four industry-based periods of 6 months interspersed between periods at university. My industry periods were with Edwards High Vacuum in Crawley, Sussex (where I put my name to a published research paper), Hilger & Watts in Camden Town, London (analytical instrument development), UKAEA Reactor Fuel Element Laboratory in Preston, Lancashire (X-ray crystallography), then Hilger & Watts again (4-circle, single crystal, X-ray spectrometer development).

What happened after you graduated?

I joined Hilger & Watts full-time as an Internal Sales Specialist for X-ray Analysis Instruments, then after a year moved to Instron Ltd. in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, a world-leading manufacturer of materials testing machines.

Over the course of 13 years there I progressed from:

– UK Sales/Service Engineer

– to Export Sales/Service Engineer

– to Export Sales Manager

– to General Sales Manager

I then moved to Multitone Ltd (Radio Paging Systems), in London to take up the post of Group Sales Director.

4 years later I moved to Varian Associates Inc. (Analytical Instruments), first as Operations Director for Europe, based in Switzerland, then as Global Operations Vice President, based in California, USA.

Moving back to the UK, I became Managing Director of Chubb Fire Ltd then Group Managing Director for the European operations of the American fire detection company, Notifier.

In 1999 I ‘semi-retired’ as a management consultant for the European Performance Institute (EPI) in Brussels, before setting up my own management consulting company, Marshall Associates, retiring completely in 2008.

How did your idea and career come about?

I progressed into my career probably from a realisation that I was not cut out for work in research, twinned with a desire to travel/work internationally, yet stay in the technology sector.

When it comes to my book, I have always nurtured a desire to write, and in my retirement, thought I would try my hand. Initially, I had no idea what to write about, but one day, I mentioned it to my daughter-in-law, who said, ‘why not write about your interesting life?’ So I did – not an autobiography; more a memoir of all the strange and funny things that had happened to me over the years. From this, I hoped that an idea for a novel would emerge… and it did. So Kuskovo involves technology (ICBM’s), Russia (I spent more than 18 months of my life there), America (I lived there for 4 years), and romance (I am still in love with my wife of 50 years!).

What has been the most rewarding experience?

As for my career, turning around and growing international technology-based businesses by re-organisation and team building.

As for my book, realising that I can, and enjoy to, write.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to your idea?

Concerning Kuskovo, I have been asked, ‘How on earth do you write a novel?’ Well, I suppose it’s different for different people and the type of novel. I can only answer for myself:

First, you must have the desire.

Second, you must find, or make, the time.

Third, you must have the idea for the main theme.

For the last of these, I have always enjoyed the work of Frederick Forsyth – international espionage/skulduggery – so I set out for this genre. The main theme idea came to me, I don’t know how, to build a story around a Russian attempt to steal Western technology, with a bit of romance thrown in. From this trunk, branches grew; and finally, leaves. It was not straightforward and involved an enormous number of re-writes (pruning) – some self-generated, others from comments of friends who read early drafts. The writing was, for me, the easy part – probably only 10 – 20% of the time. For this type of book, the rest was spent in research (made incomparably easier by the internet – saving me numerous trips abroad and interviews of experts), editing (I could make another book out of the back-stories I cut!) and publishing.

For me, this was a work of love and I did not slavishly force myself to work at it when I didn’t feel like it. I guess from start until now, it took some 3 years.

As a side benefit, promoting it has brought me back into contact with many friends and associates I had lost contact with.

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

  1. Do something you love; you will spend half of your waking life working.
  2. Be patient: there are not many naturally good businessmen out there. If you’re good, you will succeed.

If you are interested in finding out more about Russia in the 1970s, Rick is available for talks where he dives deep into his travel experiences, revealing the situation and the quality of life there during those times… augmented by some curious and amusing stories. Find out more and contact details for Rick by clicking HERE!

Thank you Rick for sharing your story! If you would like to find out more about his journey, please email: rickmar001@aol.com.

 

 

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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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