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Migration Made Easy

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

Tripti Maheshwari (Finance, 2015) recently won the ‘International alumni of the year’ award at The Pie PIEoneer Awards. Now her platform Student Circus has been selected as one of the businesses to participate in the Mayor of London’s International Business Growth Programme. We caught up with Tripti to hear more about Student Circus and why students, universities and employers should watch this space.

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

I had a few offers from different universities after I completed my degree at Lancaster but all of my professors said you should go to Cass for finance. Coming from an Economics degree and reading about what Cass has done, it was a no-brainer to say ‘let’s do it’. The masters is so industry relevant. They get experts who are working in the industry to teach you. It is not only academia and research, it is very very practical. It was the best time ever.

What happened graduation?

Soon after graduating I realised that I wanted a job. I finally landed an internship with a start up in Soho in London. They wanted to have me full time but I couldn’t because of my issues with my visa issues and that’s where the idea came up.  I wanted to know why is it so difficult to find a job if you’re skilled and only your visa is a problem. Apparently because of a lack of a direct way to apply international students and graduates have been applying for the wrong jobs. Out of desperation we focused on quantity – how many applications have we sent out today – rather than understanding where to apply and who would sponsor.

How did you set up Student Circus?

We did three months of market research, made a business plan, did panel interviews. Oliver from the Cass Entrepreneurship fund helped us to break down and focus more clearly on our business idea. We also got in touch with the City team and we were offered a place at the City Launch Lab incubation space. We got so much support from how to deal with people, who to contact, how to sell your platform, and soon after Cass was one of our first clients.

How does Student Circus work?

The core of the platform is information about which jobs should you apply for versus which ones you shouldn’t. We get in touch with employers and verify with them whether or not they are using their license to sponsor for graduates and what criteria they have in place. We’ve built a customer algorithm on the platform which basically aggregates these jobs. It works like Sky Scanner. On Sky Scanner you find the cheapest flights, on Student Circus you can find the jobs which would sponsor and you can filter them based on industry or location. Students and graduates sign up using their university email ID and are able to access the jobs platform, do their applications and do their application management. We’ve also got features like immigration assistant; we have partnered with a legal company in London. Our features center around the user journey of a student. Because we went through it, we understand our user so well, and so we know where to plug the gaps. We call ourselves a seamless extension to careers resources. But we always welcome feedback, so every university that comes on board have full rights to ask for new features included in that cost that they are paying. They are building the platform with us essentially so it’s very user-driven.

Where is Student Circus based? 

We’re a UK based company but we outsource a lot of our work to different parts of the world.  Some of the team are based in the city I come from, Jaipur in Rajasthan in India. We’ve also got some content writers, who are primarily students across the globe and we take a lot of contribution from alumni. So it’s pretty much all over the world.

What has been the biggest challenge in setting up Student Circus?

I think the biggest challenge we face is perception. issue. The moment that we tell people that we have a jobs platform and a skill-building platform for international students, they ask ‘why would you do that, students don’t get jobs’. But this is absolutely false because students do get jobs and companies are ready to hire them, as long as they fit the criteria.  Also students think ‘why should I apply, it’s so difficult to get a job’. It is difficult but it’s not impossible. Even if you’re a home student, it’s equally difficult to find a job these days. It takes 4-6 months for any graduate and as an international student you get only 4 months on your visa after you finish your degree. That’s not really enough. So you need to get it right from the very beginning. So I think enforcing that message again and again is the biggest challenge.

What has been the most rewarding part of it?

The fact that we’re able to help. As a student I would have wanted this and now we’re able to help those who are so talented, who come in with such high hopes and aspirations, and they finally have a gateway to make it happen. The moment we hear someone has got a job or got accepted, it’s like the best day ever.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start up their own business?

I think what I’ve learnt and what I really tell others is you really have to step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t help to search on Google, you have to get in touch with people. You may feel they won’t answer but the worst thing they’ll do is say no. But if you don’t ask you don’t get and we often say that we’ve become shameless in asking for things because that’s the only way to get what you want. Unless people know that you need something, you’ll never get it so that’s the one thing we follow, just ask, ask, ask until you get it.

What are the next steps for Student Circus? 

We are currently fundraising to take us to the next level. Last year we had four universities as partners, this year we have almost 25. It’s a huge increase and a huge responsibility to deliver. We‘re also launching a job readiness platform very soon. It’s called Ignis by Student Circus which will essentially prepare a student. I think there is still a large gap in the readiness of a student to apply for these jobs and on our journey we’ve met experts in their fields. So we want to bring them all to our platform and create learning content and job readiness content. And if anyone from outside the UK, wants to come to the UK market, they have to understand how it works. So we want to create the international mobility community but make it very information friendly and accessible. And hopefully, in the next 2 years, we are planning a launch in Australia. So those will be the next steps.

Exercising Ethically

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

In the dawn of the paper straw and the reusable coffee cup, it’s no surprise that Gareth Evans (MBA, 2017) and his business partner Joe Lines, saw a gap in the market for truly sustainable, high performing, ethical activewear. Here Gareth tells the story of his new venture Peak+Flow; activewear that is kind to the earth but tough enough for your weekly HITT session.

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

When I decided to study an MBA, I had a very clear goal of leaving my career in sales, and wanted to develop a deeper understanding of how businesses work. I didn’t know what field I wanted to move into precisely, but I felt that an MBA would help me to explore my options.

Cass Business School ticked all the right boxes for me due to its excellent London location, which was near my work and home. Plus, the fact that it offered an Executive MBA programme allowed me to fit study around my busy work schedule.

What happened after you graduated?

The day I handed in my Business Mastery Project, my company changed my role, so I achieved my aim of getting out of sales on the very day I finished the programme; a brilliant return on my investment.

Since then I have, along with my business partner, gone on to grow a consulting practice and also to launch a new sustainable activewear company, Peak+Flow.

How did Peak+Flow come about?

Gareth and Joe

 

Peak+Flow was born out of three simple realisations which developed over time:

Most activewear was created using materials that were damaging to the planet. Our options were to either buy from established brands who occasionally pay lip-service to sustainability, or end up with hessian-type clothing which didn’t perform.

Secondly, we saw activewear as a category being dragged increasingly towards fast-fashion: resulting in clothing that was over logo-ed, over-designed and released faster than necessary to the consumer. Not everyone wants to walk around advertising a brand in fluorescent yellow.

Lastly, we spent time researching brands and companies manufacturing activewear and found a lack of transparency and purpose. We believe many consumers see through the gigantic advertising budgets and would like to see a company delivering on values that people care deeply about.

The result of these was both of us asking how would you build a company that would ethically create sustainable clothing.

What has been the biggest challenge?

We knew when we set out it was going to be very challenging, and it still is.

While sustainability and ethical manufacturing are being discussed more and more today, when we started out two years ago it wasn’t so common. It was a challenge trying to find suppliers and partners that met the standards required, while we are selves were trying to establish our principles at the same time as learning about the industry. Quality and function have always been paramount but equal to sustainability and ethical production.

It is challenging as a new business to find partners that will work with you, and you multiply that when your demands surpass that of nearly everyone in the industry.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Seeing the response that people have had to the brand, both online and at the trade shows we have done. Hearing people tell us that this is what they have been waiting for is very rewarding after a 2-year journey.

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

It is going to take longer than you think, and that is ok.

Enjoy the journey and realise that no one wants it to go as quickly as you do.

 

Peak+Flow is currently fundraising via Kickstarter. To find out more and support the cause, please visit: kck.st/2Rn1Jzh

You can also follow them on Instagram: @peakandflow

 

The Vicar’s Picnic – Kent’s Biggest Little Festival 

Cass Business School News.

Our alumni go on to do some pretty extraordinary things after they graduate from Cass Business School. Philip (Phil) Keeler (Executive MBA, 1993)  is no exception. Having “retired” from the City six years ago, Phil now co-organises the ‘biggest little festival’ in Kent. Here Phil tells us about his time at Cass and the upcoming Vicar’s Picnic. 

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?
The time at Cass was a challenge as I was working full-time as Head of IT at a major investment company, having two young children and still managing to complete the Evening MBA.  However, it was worthwhile as it allowed me to develop the business understanding and skills that I needed to further my career.

Phil Keeler

What happened after you graduated?
I was head-hunted by another investment company to manage the integration of a business that they had acquired, which then evolved into a business product management role for an outsourcing business.  The MBA allowed me to move out of a technical IT focus into business management which a specific focus on business stagey and business transformations.
 
What has been the most rewarding experience, in your career?

Taking responsibility for a complete business transformation working with the management to agree the business strategy, designing the operational and systems solutions and then managing the three-year transformation process, which was completed on time, close to budget and the program was also recognised by winning a national innovation award.

What are you involved with now?
I “retired” from the City six years ago and have undertaken a number of interesting part-time consultancy assignments, with a focus on helping small companies through supporting their management or providing coaching and mentoring to senior people.

About The Vicar’s Picnic:

The Vicar’s Picnic is back with an outstanding musical experience held in the picturesque setting in Yalding between Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.  The Kent’s Biggest Little Festival in Kent takes place on the banks of the River Medway on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 July 2018, which will be the sixth year that the festival has been held.  The festival is run by a small group of volunteers with the aims of providing a true value for money experience.  We aim to provide a great weekend for first time and regular festival-goers from both the local community and from further afield catering for the needs of all ages so that everyone can experience a wide range of musical acts within a safe environment.  In 2016 the Vicar’s Picnic was short-listed as finalists for two national festival awards.  Last year we sold out of tickets prior to the event and had a total of more than 3,500 people for what was acclaimed to be the best Vicar’s Picnic yet.  This year the headline acts on the stages will be Fun Loving Criminals, Star Sailor, Cast, Nine Below Zero and in the dance tent we will have Norman Jay MBE, Mr Doris, Nightmares on Wax, Crazy P and many others.  As always all the profits from the festival will go to local charities, which this year are Dandelion Time, Kenward Trust and the Yalding Supper Club.

 

For more information about The Vicar’s Picnic, or to purchase tickets, please visit: vicarspicnic.co.uk/

Future-Proofing Finance

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

weiyenWeiyen Hung (MSc Finance 2010) has been appointed as Chair of the T level Financial Panel in the Legal, Financial and Accounting route, as part of the Department for Education’s commitment to reforming post-16 technical education. We spoke about how it happened, and why you should get involved too.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

I really enjoyed my time at Cass, it was a wonderful experience. I was only there for a year which was short, but it was a really transformational year for me. I joined straight after my undergraduate degree in Taipei, Taiwan where I did my BBA and then I wanted to specialise in Finance. Cass was a really eye-opening place as I finally had the opportunity to get a taste of the heart of the financial centre. It’s not just about the facilities though but also about the quality of the course and the students, as well as the support from the staff. I had a fantastic year.

What did you do next?

I graduated in 2010, and the market then was not the best. I’d been hearing lots of horror stories in the few years before so I was luckier than them. I had been trying to get a job since I arrived in London the August before my course started. Finally in July, which was my last month in the country, I was about to give up. Thankfully, finally they came to fruition and I had four job offers. I started work at Fitch Ratings where I worked for nearly four years as a Securities Analyst. Then after that I moved to my current employment at the Bank of England.

How did you get involved in the Technical Education Reform Panels?

It was a long journey to join this panel as Chair, and I did many things beforehand. I have always been ambitious and as part of my job I have always looked for more training to gain more qualifications and improve myself. I worked towards becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst Charterholder because I really got into qualifications after doing my Masters at Cass, because of the way you learn there – it’s very structured and effective.

So from doing this I got into financial education and after I qualified I decided to volunteer as with the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of the UK (CFA UK). I first joined the panel for the Investment Management Certificate where we were tasked with looking at the pass rate, curriculum, and what we expect graduating students to know at level three and level four after being on these courses. Here I learnt how to maintain a high level of standards.

That was the starting point, and when I stepped down in early 2017 I asked myself what else can I do? This opportunity came up with the Department for Education to be on the panel for level three T qualifications. I applied to be a member, as this looked like great next level for me to develop my skills. So I applied and then I was awarded the Chair from the start! I think it was my prior experience that gave me that position on the panel.

I was not involved in the recruitment of the rest of the panel, which was all handled by the Department for Education. It’s a diverse panel comprising all the stakeholders, including professionals, working bodies, educational experts and trade. It’s a good mix and I’m very fortunate to lead them.

What is the panel for exactly?

Students in the UK at age 16 have three choices. The first is the academic route (A Levels), which is the route about 40-50% of students take. The next option is an apprenticeship, which is highly specialised on-the-job training. Here you spend 80% of your time on the job and 20% in the classroom. The third route are technical qualifications, where you learn a vocational qualification through training. This route is the least structured, with thousands of courses to choose from.

Just as an example, if you want to become a plumber there are 33 qualifications to choose from. That makes it very difficult to work out which course you should do, which is best for you, which has the best prospects. It’s clear to the Department for Education (DfE) that this sector is not in the best place and that it can perform much better. It’s not much benefit to a student if the course they are on doesn’t lead to a promising career. So, following recommendations from a review undertaken by an independent panel, chaired by Lord Sainsbury, the DfE has appointed these panels and we are trying to help advise the whole sector on what they need to do better to support this third option, the technical level.

What does the future of this project look like?

Each panel is made of around 10 members who will work together to outline what the minimum standard is that 16-18 years olds should be learning. The question to answer will be where can this Level 3 T level programme take you? We are looking at progression into the jobs market as well as towards other routes like academic qualifications or higher education. We want to help open up the future and keep doors open. We want to make sure that what the course covers doesn’t prevent students from either going into the job market or more study – by primarily ensuring that what they do will prepare them best for the sector.

For example, at Cass, you can do MSc Corporate Finance. Taking the course is not the same as doing the job but it is about learning the things that will help you get the job and to learn how to do the job when you have it. On a T-Level qualification 20% of the time is a work placement so you get a real taste of the job, but 80% is spent in the classroom so you get that excellent standard. For me it’s about that threshold for when you walk out the door, making sure you can go on any path in the future.

Why should other alumni get involved?

I would say pretty much all Cass alumni would have things to offer here. It’s a good way of making things happen, as well as to give back and get involved. If you work in a sector it’s great to think about all the routes people could take to get there, and how you could use your knowledge to help them do that. It matters because we’re talking about the future of all of our sectors. The urgent question is how do you get the next generation to learn the right things and gain the right skills? Answering that helps everyone. It’s all about attracting the next wave of talent to the City.

In this first phase the panels are established and producing the outline content for the T levels which will be delivered from 2020 and 2021. The next phase is to expand the sectors, for delivery from 2022, including into business administration, health and beauty; a whole range of areas. Many Cass alumni will have something to offer here, so please get involved!

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!
Favourite place in London: City of London
Favourite holiday destination: Beijing
Must-check every day website: FT
Dream travel destination: South America
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Find out more about the reforms here and see the full list of panels here. Find out how you can get involved here.

Shake It Up

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

anthony & charlotteAnthony Noun (Executive MBA, 2017) came to Cass Business School to rubber-stamp his private sector nous, after years of PR experience in the public and third sectors. Along with his business partner he is now disrupting the PR industry with Brægen, a different way for brands to communicate and engage with their target audiences. We met up in the Launch Lab for a chat.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

I decided to do an Executive MBA (EMBA) because I’ve always dreamt of setting up my own agency and felt that the EMBA would give me confidence as well as the know-how. I also knew it would be great for networking, to meet potential partners, and to collaborate.

My background is predominantly in communications and marketing in the public sector and the third sector, and the EMBA is perfect for developing your business nous. Cass is really good at accepting people from a diverse range of professional backgrounds. My first interview for the EMBA was with Professor Stephen Thomas, and he stressed to me the value of the third sector and how Cass is always looking to recruit outside the typical mould of an MBA student.

Doing the MBA helped me focus on the important things, and the extra-curricular activities were amazing too. There are lots of events to encourage entrepreneurs, like the social enterprise festival, which is widening the entrepreneurship net outside the private sector.

What was the most interesting thing you learned?

In the Organisational Behaviour module we started looking at change management in a different way, using dialogic organisation development.

Traditionally a company has a series of change management and restructure programmes to increase efficiency. However, these top-down change management approaches only have a 30% success rate, are not effective and often lead to demotivated and unhappy staff.

A dialogic approach puts people at the centre of organisational development. Rather than create a plan and then try to engage staff, you start with a series of dialogues internally and co-construct a shared purpose through which the company can embrace emergence and move forward together collectively. I did my thesis on applying dialogic methods to communication and engagement, to seek out if the approach can be used with external (the public, ‘consumers’) stakeholders as well as internal ones.

This really laid the foundations to help build the Brægen concept and I would never have come across ‘dialogic’ without doing the EMBA. It was amazing to realise that I could make these connections and take best practice from other industries to disrupt ours.

What happened next?

I went straight from my EMBA to the City Launch Lab – it’s been a huge plus! The Launch Lab is an exciting venture for the University. Not only can you go to events and conferences for start-ups when you’re studying here, you know there is also a University-funded start-up incubator waiting for you if you’ve got the right idea.

We pitched and won our place and it’s amazing because we have free desk space for 12 months, as well as mentoring plus that day-to-day support to really help us go from a start-up to the next phase.

How did Brægen form?

I met my co-creator and collaborator Charlotte Broadribb professionally, and we’re passionate about the future of the PR, Marketing and Advertising industry. We don’t see what’s happening currently as creative, viable or appealing to ‘consumers’, and the results are that there is more fake engagement (at best) than real. So someone needs to come in and disrupt the status quo – us!

Brægen’s philosophy and vision focuses on how marketing and communications need to adapt to meet current challenges of today’s social, political and media landscape. Today anyone can create or be their own brand. Before smartphones, traditional brands were just competing with each other for coverage. Now people, powered by technology, are able to compete with established brands for media space, engagement and visibility.

For example a vlogger’s 15 minute video can reach millions of people worldwide, which is the same reach as a multi-million advertising campaign. And this vlogger is getting better engagement too! Organisations are unsuccessfully playing catch-up, as tried and tested ‘broadcast’ methods of content and message push are no longer appealing because they don’t lead to real two-way conversations, which as we all know, is more interesting than being talked ‘at’.

People now want and expect more from brands – reading a series of announcements about what a brand is doing is no longer of interest to people. People want the opportunity to co-create, communicate and make decisions with the brands they use – just look at Monzo.

How did you come up with the name?

The name Brægen was Charlotte’s idea. It’s the original spelling of the word ‘brain’. The brain is the one thing all 7 billion of us humans have in common and what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is the way we can communicate with each other. The brain is where all the magic happens!

What does Brægen offer?

We do PR and marketing with the key focus of creating real engagement touchpoints with the target audience. What people want is changing so we’re looking at meeting that need, and we do this through a number of techniques.

We’ve always said that Brægen is a concept that will constantly evolve with the times. We are not rigidly wedded to the idea we have today as we recognise the need to respond to how people consume and interact with information and change, because it’s the failure to innovate that has created the problems the industry has today.

And you’re also coaches?

Yes, one of our unique selling points is that we are all coaches, or training to be. We also see it as a good cross-sell package. I’m training to be an executive coach and Charlotte is a health and wellbeing coach. Coaching is more about listening than talking to clients, which is a great basis for how we can dialogically work with them, their internal teams and their external audiences.

Traditional presentation training, particularly with CEOs and senior executives, always focuses on the outer communication issues like packaging the message right, but that doesn’t touch on your internal beliefs and previous experiences as a speaker or presenter which may be limiting you. That’s something you can only work on from a coaching perspective. Coaching can help you find your positive inner voice and to create an action plan for working on confidence as a speaker or a presenter.

What’s the future for Brægen?

We are committed to being an agency that will remain different and ahead of the game. We want to keep away from the traditional agency model and ensure that we preserve our start-up ideals. We’re not doing this for glory or money, we love it and we think that we offer something different to the PR and marketing industry. We will keep disrupting and using our skills to create positive communications and sometimes social change.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

The concept of the Dialogic Communications Consultancy or Agency is new and different, so the real challenge is communicating an innovative and complex concept to people in a succinct way. We need to ensure people understand what we do and how working with us in a dialogic way would benefit them, their brand, their business, their team and their audiences.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share?

I’d say don’t fret – be patient and never doubt yourself. If you have an idea and you think about it all the time, go for it. If you start developing a business, keep going and see it through to fruition. You don’t always need to rely on an investor to buy into it for you to be a success.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!
Favourite place in London: Southbank
Favourite holiday destination: South America
Must-check every day website: Guardian
Dream travel destination: Mongolian desert
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Find out more about Brægen on their website and follow them on Twitter.

International Women’s Day: Celebrating Female Cass Alumnae

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

claire, emilie and nancy
Our Cass alumni stories are a great way to find out where your Cass degree can take you. We’ve got alumni doing amazing, innovative things across the world – and this International Women’s Day we’re celebrating the female alumni we’ve featured recently.

Claire Hall (left) studied MSc Charity Marketing and Fundraising (2014) but has lately turned her talents to the digital sector at WordPress Agency Moove Agency and found plenty of skills crossover. Read more here.

Emilie Bellet (centre) came to Cass as part of her degree at ESCP in Paris, and then moved to London when she graduated. She’s always been ‘good’ at earning money, but saving….less so. Her new company, Vestpod, is all about informing women about how to be smart with their finances. Continue reading.

Nancy O’Hare (right) (Executive MBA, 2014) has spent 20 years in the oil and gas industry travelling whenever she could. Now she’s ditched the day job and has published a new kind of travel book “Dust In My Pack” part how-to, and part narrative based on her travels. Find out more.

Good For Nothing?

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

SeanSean Anderson (BSc Business Studies, 2014) started working with his clothing company, Good For Nothing, while still at Cass – and launched his next collection just days after his final exam. With suppliers including JD Sports, a showcase on MTV and celebrity endorsements, it turns out that Sean is definitely good at this! He popped back to Cass for a chat.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

Well it was split in to two parts, because I initially studied Investment and Financial Risk Management because I wanted to work in the City as a trader. However, I failed mathematical finance twice – it was like another language to me! So then I had some time out and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I got a job trading oil futures in London and at the same time started working on Good For Nothing.

I’d always wanted to learn more about business and to create something from Good For Nothing. I was chatting with my mum about it and she said I should write a letter to the Dean of Cass asking to return. I was reluctant but she told me that the worst they could say was no. So I wrote a big long letter outlining what I’d been up to and my wish to come back and study more and I was accepted on to the second year of Business Studies.

Some of the modules have been really useful and applicable. I was really lucky at University to be in a close knit group of friends, and even though I live far away in Manchester and I don’t see them as much they are still friends for life. Actually, two of them are in the same industry, so when I go to trade shows I know they will always be there!

I was also part of the rugby team – which was amazing for the social life. Playing on a Wednesday really breaks the week up too. We won the league in my last year, which was a nice way to go out. I also worked at the SU bar, and of course I was working on my business too. In my third year I stopped working at the SU and just focussed on the business and my dissertation, which was pretty tiring! At weekends I would go up to Manchester to work on my business and I spent a lot of time in the Northern Quarter, Manchester’s fashion district, knocking on the doors of fashion agents asking if I could show them my products. I wasn’t very successful with that though!

What did you do next?

My last exam was on Friday 6th June 2014 and on the following Monday we launched the new summer collection. Rather than party and celebrate finishing my degree I had to get on the train to Manchester to get it all together. Throughout my exams I was working on the collection as well as a collaboration deal between a TV personality and the brand, and with the launch on that Monday I had to do a lot of work alongside my exams. It was incredibly successful, and we did a year’s turnover in the 30 days from the launch day. I didn’t have time to take a gap year, or even go on holiday, it was straight in to this full time job.

How did Good For Nothing get started?

Both me and my business partner had always been in to fashion and wanted to start our own business. Actually we were both designing and printing t-shirts separately, selling them through Facebook and then we decided to go ahead together, and Good For Nothing started to build momentum.

We got endorsed by TV stars quite early on. One of my friends went to school with some of the people on a reality TV show and through them I spoke to the manager of one of them. We met up and gave them some free samples, and a few of the guys on the show started to wear our clothes. Then I was in Glasgow airport and I saw another of the guys from the show who I knew would have a good pull, so I went over and said that some of your friends wear our brand, can I send some pieces for you?

So we kept in touch and then I proposed a collaboration deal and from there it really snowballed. That’s how we got to some of our stores, and when people saw the brand on TV that created a huge demand, like we saw our butterfly logo t-shirt on MTV and it went crazy! Through that we built a really big social following on Instagram and really helped the brand to flourish. Now we work with stores like ASOS, FootAsylum and JD sports, they have been really helpful for exposure and great partners.

One thing that really helped was the name of the brand. No matter where I am if I talk of the brand name e.g. checking in to a hotel or offices, if they ask the brand name, it always makes people laugh. The name is a big part of it, and the message behind the brand is that belief to pursue your dreams and goals despite what people say; you wear the criticism and do what you want. Through the years as the customer base has grown we have developed and expanded into new categories and now we do men’s, women’s, junior, denim, footwear and jackets, so we can reach more customers. We’re even launching a backpack range.

What’s the future looking like?

Future plans are to continue to grow with key clients and we hope to be able to bring on a couple of new key partners later in the year or early next year. We will continue to build our online and social following and continue to innovate products. We are always creating new aesthetics while keeping the core DNA of the brand.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge has been growth management! From when we did the launch after my final exam the business has taken off and continued since then. We doubled our size in the last financial year and we are on track to double again this year. So we’re always looking at warehouse staff, space, resources, and can we keep up with the demand?

One of the difficulties we faced was when we first received big orders and we had to get finance for it. We would go to a finance house, just out of University, and it was a hard task to convince people to support us. I had countless meetings with trade finance companies but finally managed to find one who was willing to work with us.

The other thing alongside this is the balance between work and personal life, those are the two challenges for me.

What advice can you share?

I think the team you build is really important. In your own business there is only so much you can do yourself. It’s important to have faith in the people who have faith in your business. Some of our staff who are vital to the business, they had no relevant experience when we hired them for the roles they are doing now, but they believed in the brand, learned and developed to be absolutely key to the business. The team is a huge thing.

The other advice I’d give to anyone, whether in business, your career or personal life, is don’t just have a goal. Once you have one, split it into activities that lead to that goal and pursue each activity until you get there.

Another thing I’d say to anyone, even to myself in past years, and I have to keep reminding myself now, is to maintain that balance between your career, business and personal life: your friends, your family and your loved ones. It’ so easy to get caught up and forget to focus on the simpler things that bring you the most happiness.

Don’t be afraid to ask people for advice. I would just ask people I hardly knew for advice, e.g. I didn’t understand wholesale mark-ups and so my sister introduced me to someone who could help, and then he ended up introducing us to the trade show where we got one of our key stores, and they are a big customer now.

Use your resources and just search for them if you don’t have any. People, strangers or friends of friends come to me and just ask for advice. I like to give advice and give them things to think about. I get a big kick out of helping people with their businesses and it’s definitely something I want to do more of in the future.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: Royal Opera House
And since you’re located in Manchester, we’d love to know you favourite place there: My apartment!
Favourite holiday destination: New York City
Must-check every day website: Good For Nothing and Instagram
Dream travel destination: Maldives
Cheese or chocolate: Vegan chocolate

Find out more and buy from Good For Nothing on their website and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Meditating On Success

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

stuartStuart Ross (BSc Business studies, 1987) is all about growth, whether that’s in business where High Growth offers entrepreneurs a unique approach to scale their businesses rapidly, or with Business Mindfulness where the focus is on meditation, discipline and ‘enjoying the journey’. We sat down for a chat:

Tell me about your time at Cass!

It was a long time ago! When I was at Cass it was the City University Business School and has just moved to Frobisher Crescent. We were the first cohort to do a BSc in Business Studies and I think that in some ways, because it was so new, we received extra focus. We had some great lecturers and small class sizes; there were 40 on the course and it was more like a family atmosphere, so the students felt like there was a unique bond which continues to this day when we meet annually.

What did you do next?

I was sponsored through University by Arcadia so when I graduated I went to work for them as a fashion buyer for a couple of years. From there I was headhunted to Boots the Chemist to head up some of their buying and marketing areas which included launching Boots’ website back in 1995. I also helped to launch their business internationally, becoming the Marketing Director. Then I subsequently joined British Land as a Managing Director of of a software joint venture which I scaled and successfully sold. After that I decided to follow my passion which is realising the potential of both businesses and individuals. That led to me launching High Growth.

What is High Growth?

At High Growth we have been training and coaching companies for the last 10 years in the UK and US. We help businesses scale up easily and efficiently once they reach a turnover of somewhere between 500K and £1M, up to £50M, giving them the skills and strategies which ensure success. We have had around two and a half thousand companies go through the programmes online and offline. But that’s not all I do, I’m also a non-executive director of a couple of companies and have also launched businessmindfulness.co.uk.

What is Business Mindfulness?

I’m fascinated with this area! Something important is happening in our society today: people are being mindful. In more ways and in more places. Being mindful is an idea, a way of being, whose time has come. It’s an approach that recognises and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings. Perhaps, not surprisingly, some of the most successful organisations in the world have embraced this concept.

Business Mindfulness shares the secrets of these ‘enlightened’ businesses recognising that alignment and synchronicity is required between an individual, team, organisation and environment. Once alignment is established between these areas a business can truly be in ‘flow’ and start to realise it’s potential.

It starts with the individual. Athletes train 90% of the time to perform 10% of the time, but most executives work 95% of the time and that other 5% is not spent on training. You need to get the balance right. We help people to balance themselves emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally by teaching them to develop the best habits and skills in each to allow personal success

We’ve heard you attend Awesomnessfest?

Yes, and there it’s part of the culture to raise your game. You mix with people at or higher than your level and it stretches and inspires you. I speak regularly at this event, which is host to around 250 people from around the world. The attendees are a curated invite list from all professions and walks of life who get together for four days twice a year to learn from each other in inspirational locations.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

I’d have to say it’s helping people to realise their potential and commit to a growth journey. Once they have committed to that journey it is then making sure they enjoy it, getting rid of habits that do not serve them as they develop new., moving them to a totally new level. This actually affects all areas of life not just business, it helps them also with friends, family, health, etc: the whole lot!

Do you have any advice to share?

I have three pieces of advice! 1) Work on yourself harder than you work on your business. If you don’t grow faster than your business it will ultimately die 2) Make sure you enjoy the journey and life around you – be present to it at all times 3) Ask more what could you stop doing than what could you start doing. For example, if you’re looking to take on more things you need to give something up to make time for it. For more on this visit my site Goalsetting.training.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: Camden Market
Favourite holiday destination: Japan
Must-check every day website: Stumble
Dream travel destination: Fiji
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Find out more on Highgrowth.com and businessmindfulness.co.uk. Follow High Growth on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

Cass Alumni 2017 Roundup

Cass Business School News.

Bringing you a roundup of all the top events, stories, and social media posts in 2017. We’ve been celebrating Cass’s 50th Anniversary, hosted and supported events in New York, Athens, Dubai, San Francisco, Shanghai, Doha, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and more. It’s been amazing to reconnect with so many of you and we hope you have enjoyed meeting each other too. We’re already planning for 2018 so we hope to see many more of you soon!

PLUS, if the festive season for you means Premier League Football, join our Fantasy League and compete against other alumni! The joining code is 1318396-573914.

Alumni Events

50th Anniversary Year Closing Party

Hosted at the London Transport Museum, over 300 alumni plus staff and guests joined special guest Sir Stelios to party late into the night. The silent disco proved a particular highlight.

Cass at 50 Closing Party at London Transport Museum - October 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muhtar Kent Masterclass

It’s been a great year for connecting with famous alumni, with Muhtar Kent, the Chairman and former CEO of The Coca-Cola Company coming back for a masterclass on diversity alongside his annaul prizegiving of the Defne and Muhtar Kent Prize in Entrepreneurship and the Coca-Cola Foundation scholars. Find the full video of this talk on Cass Community.

Muhtar Kent Lunch & Masterclass September 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyber Security at KPMG

We’ve also had alumni invite us to their place of work! We visited KPMG with some Cass academics to team up with the KPMG experts for this interactive discussion on cyber security.

KPMG Cyber Security Event April 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cass Couples

It’s been a lovely year for Cass couples! Thanks to those who sent us in their photos – we’d love to have more. Share with us via cass-alumni@city.ac.uk or message on our social platforms.

Cass Academics in 2017

The wonderful academics at Cass never stop! Here’s some of what they have been up to this year:

Great Rankings Results

Cass has been celebrating plenty of success in the rankings this year!

Giving Back in 2017

Cass alumni are launching and investing in businesses with a social angle, and City is joining in too.

 

Alumni Entrepreneurs

We have caught up with more alumni entrepreneurs in 2017 than ever before, and you can read all the interviews on our website. Highlights include:

 

Celebrating Success

Congratulations to all our alumni who have achieved their goals in 2017!


From all of us at the Cass Alumni Relations Team we wish you a very Merry Christmas and every success in 2018.

Mooving In a New Direction

Alumni Stories, Cass Business School News.

claireClaire Hall studied MSc Charity Marketing and Fundraising (2014) but has lately turned her talents to the digital sector at WordPress Agency Moove Agency and found plenty of skills crossover. We spoke about it all.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

I applied for the MSc in Charity Marketing and Fundraising whilst I was working overseas with an NGO in Nigeria. The then Executive Director of United Purpose (formerly Concern Universal) Ian Williams was a visiting fellow at Cass and he mentioned the CCE (Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness) and the Masters programme. I looked into the course and Business School further and I knew that I’d found the right place to study. So I applied, got in and moved to London.

I absolutely loved the programme – it was very intense! It took a while to get used to Fridays and Saturdays in the classroom but I loved the total immersion of the course. I look fondly on my two years. The lecturers were fantastic, and it was the perfect balance of academic and theory and guest lecturers from charities. The cohort came from different parts of charity sector and were at different points in their careers; I learnt as much from them as through my study and reading.

What did you do next?

During my time at Cass I was working at the NSPCC. I held a few different roles whilst I was there, starting as Major Donor Fundraiser, then a secondment working for the Director of Fundraising and finally a move into the HR team to develop the Fundraising training programme. It was really fantastic to get the practical experience of those three roles.

I then had the opportunity a couple of years ago to join Moove Agency. After spending 10 years in the charity sector I felt it would add to my professional experience if I worked in another sector. I’m very interested in technology and the challenge of translating my skills and experience into the digital sector really appealed to me. Several of my modules with CCE were very applicable too, like resource management and strategy. It’s been great to use the learning, knowledge and insight from the course.

What is your role now?

At Moove Agency, we work with some of the UK’s biggest brands to provide fast and reliable WordPress support.
Even though I have transferred to the digital sector, I’ve found that in terms of people management and specifically my sales role I had many skills already. I love my role because we work with a wide range of clients in different sectors including fantastic charities like Internet Matters, Nacro and also CharityJob, the leading provider of charity jobs.

I’m also proud that we donate 5% of our profits to charity, and this year we supported Free A Girl who free and rehabilitate young girls who have been forced into prostitution. Although I’m not working in the charity sector I still feel that I continue to work with and support the sector.

What does the future hold?

From a business perspective I’m really lucky to work with a talented team of Developers, Designers and Account Managers and I’m looking forward to growing the team to reflect the demand for our services. We have also just launched a new service for API integrations so we can get the websites to work harder and with more automation; we plan to launch more services in the future which is exciting.

On a personal level I’ve been mentoring people for the past two years through the Aspire Foundation which is specifically for mentoring women, and I actually started as a mentee. I also mentor for the University of Reading and I’m looking for the right opportunity to join a charity board where I can add value with both my fundraising and digital sector experience.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

From a personal perspective, after 10 years of experience in the charity sector and doing the MSc, I had built up a huge knowledge base of the sector. When I transitioned into the digital industry, I had to start from scratch in some ways. So I immersed myself in our work and the industry and I got up to speed pretty quickly. Every sector has its own language and I found I could quickly utilise skills I already had, because sales and fundraising are really similar territory.

From a business perspective, we have grown 20-30% year on year and clients love our work and we receive great feedback. The challenge is that as we scale and senior people take on more responsibility, we need to refine our internal processes to reflect the size of the business and continue to deliver the best service to our clients.

Do you have any advice to share?

Whatever stage you’re at in your career there’s always more to learn. You need to keep working on yourself, and the Masters for me was part of that. I really like the Churchill quote “to improve is to change, to perfect is to change often”. I love the sentiment to push forward, grow and improve; it’s good advice and it’s definitely what I’ve done in my career. Work on your personal growth and you will really add value to organisations that you are a part of.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: The Planetarium in Greenwich always puts things into perspective!
Favourite holiday destination: Venice
Must-check every day website: Futurism.com for insights into exciting breakthroughs and discoveries in science and tech
Dream travel destination: Japan
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Find out more about Moove Agency on their website.

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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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