Considering a career change? Consider Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme!

Alumni Notice Board, Events.

Teach First banner

In the UK today, the link between how much your family earn and how well you do in school and in life is stronger than almost anywhere in the developed world. It doesn’t have to be this way

Teach First are a charity working to end educational inequality. They believe that inspirational teaching and leadership is key to helping every child succeed, regardless of their background. Teach First supports people like you to become revolutionary teachers on their Leadership Development Programme (LDP) in schools across England and Wales.

The LDP is a personalised two-year programme encompassing high-quality training, supportive coaching, and a PGCE qualification. You’ll retrain as a teacher in one of our partner schools, and whether or not you decide to remain in the classroom, the experience and skills you’ll gain will change your life, and theirs.

They’re looking to expand their reach and place more life-changing leaders into Early Years, primary and secondary schools throughout the UK’s poorest communities.

They are hosting a series of presentations exclusively for anyone considering changing career to join their LDP. Their employer presentations will give you the chance to find out more about teaching on the LDP, get your questions answered by their Experienced Hires team, and find out how you can apply for a place in their 2016 cohort.

Visit their website to learn more about the LDP and to book your place today.

Change career. Change lives.

Cass Alumna’s Baby Inspiration

Cass Business School News .

Deniz & Basak
Basak Sen Sasal is a Cass alumna with her own business, Snapsights, which connects parents and their babies via remote monitoring, and via The White Stork, brings the extended family into a newborn’s world in UAE’s major hospitals. She’s also married to a Cass alumnus!

What was your time like at Cass?

I studied an MSc in Management with a specialism in Strategic Management in London, and I actually met my husband whilst we were studying. He was studying for his MBA in Dubai, and we’d interacted on LinkedIn, and finally met when he came to London for an elective and the rest is history. I moved to Dubai after graduating, and he’s been here for eight years and I’ve been here for three and a half years.

What are you doing now?

I am the co-founder and manager of Snapsights, a remote monitoring system for busy parents to keep in touch with their children. We are first in the world to provide such remote in-home monitoring services. Once installed, you get your own operations centre on your laptop, tablet or phone. We also offer a weekly “Happy Moments” compilation email where all the major events of the week are distilled for you.

Where did this idea come from?

It came from my own experiences, particularly my mother, who was a successful businesswoman with a multinational company, but she missed many of my first milestones like my first step, and found that success doesn’t mean as much when you miss out on these days that never come back. In the past, they weren’t even recorded very often.

Plus, one day, on the National Gulf News there was an unfortunate story about a nanny and a baby – putting yourself in the mother’s shoes, I felt so bad that evening! My husband asked, how can technology help here? And the idea was born.

What is your top tip for anyone wanting to start their own business?

The first thing is that you need a good idea that gives value to society. It’s good to be entrepreneurial, but adding value is the most important part. Snapsights gives peace of mind to parents, its corporate users, and recently the hospitals’ patients through our newly launched the White Stork concept where we bring the newborns to the screens of the family and friends living abroad.

The second thing is that you really need determination. There are lots of ups and downs and you need to find a way to keep going despite setbacks. You really need the passion to continue as without this you’ll go nowhere – you’ve got to convince yourself first.

What is next for you?

Snapsights next step is the White Stork concept where we facilitate ‘virtual’ hospital visits to the families and friends of the patients that are all around the World. We use our high-end surveillance system to bring the newborns to the screens of families. It’s received wide coverage in Gulf News, 7Days, Time Out Dubai and more. With 90% of UAE residents actually expats, and today’s globalised world, family ties are much longer and it’s not easy or practical to visit.

For example, my grandmother is 84 years old, and when I have my first child it will be her first great grandchild, and she’s too old to travel from Istanbul, but she would love to see that child. Parents initiate and facilitate the White Stork service through the systems we set at the hospitals and then can be left alone for bonding time, resting time both for mummy and the baby and to keep the germs away as the immune system of the little ones are so weak during the first couple of days. Plans are to expand into GCC, Europe, then the USA, and we’ve already secured some funding for SnapSights. We are part of region’s biggest Investment firm, Al Tamimi Investments.

And finally, the quick fire question round:

Favourite place in London? Kensington Gardens
Favourite holiday destination? Having been in Dubai for three and a half years, and my husband for eight, we miss nature, so our last holiday to Boracay island was just what we needed.
Must-check website? Facebook for social news and LinkedIn for business news
Dream travel destination? I just watched The Martian, and with Elon Musk and his SpaceX corporation being the inspirational leader in this field, I think it’s got to be Mars.
Cheese or Chocolate? Chocolate – absolutely, and without hesitation!

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Read more Cass-related blogs here.

Supporting our students to support the local community

City Future Fund, City News.

Post by Ben Butler, Student Development Manager:

Students celebrating Ada’s 100th birthday in local care home

Rida Khan, Karishma Patel and Anjorna Nanda celebrating Ada’s 100th birthday in a local care home. Their project, The Senior Citizens Venture, aims to tackles loneliness and promote the health and happiness of elderly people.

The Student Development Team has benefited tremendously from donations of both time and money from our alumni community. This has allowed us to support even more of our students through professional mentoring and enabling students with a passion for volunteering to develop their own projects.

Our Annual Report 2014 – 2015 tells you more about the work that we have been doing.

We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from the City Future Fund and will continue to develop our work so that current students are supported from the start of their time at City to the point where they too become an alumnus.

If you would like to find out more about how you can contribute to this work, please contact alumni@city.ac.uk.

 

Making the most of your time at City

Alumni Notice Board, City News.

London Skyline

City University London’s location in the heart of the City of London offers students a wide range of unique opportunities. Georgia Skupinski studied International Politics and Sociology at City and graduated in the summer of 2015. Here is her advice for students joining us this academic year:

Favourite area of London

I have so many favourite areas of London and they’re all so different and diverse, so make sure you explore everywhere you can. Portobello Market is fabulous on the weekend, take a hike up Primrose Hill or the Royal Greenwich Observatory for some great views. Explore the parks, most of them have boats in the summer which are really fun. The museums are free, take advantage of them. The Maritime, Imperial War and the National History museums are my personal favourites. Experience amazing food at Brick Lane market on the weekend, enter the lottery at the theatre – you may win free tickets, go for a run along the South Bank.

London is a city of opportunity, so make sure you make the most of it.

Favourite part of the City campus and place to study

My favourite part of the City campus is the College Building. It’s such a beautiful building and it holds so much history, look it up – the Great Hall was once where the Olympic Boxing was held. I love the College Common room for studying in between lectures, but I am a massive fan of the sixth floor of the library. Everyone respects the ‘silence’ rule and it’s a great place to go and focus.

If you need to do group work, the library has plenty of group study areas that you can book out. I found this really great – far better than trying to coordinate a group study or presentation in a noisy public café.

Places to go for a night out

Locally to City there is a Propaganda held on Friday and Saturday nights which is always a great night out and not too expensive. If you’re considering a more central location, there’s Tiger Tiger, Piccadilly Institute, Loop Bar and Sway – they’re always suitably busy and play everything from chart to 70’s/80’s/90’s music. Camden Koko, in fact the majority of Camden, is great for an alternative night out. If you’re over 21, Infernos in Clapham is a great night for cheesy music. There are so many places to go in London to suit everybody and I recommend the Design My Night website to find the type of night to suit you.

Places to eat

My favourite restaurant is Cafe La Divina on Upper Street, just up the road from City. It’s a great little independent Italian restaurant and the food is delicious while reasonably priced. Oblix in the Shard is also amazing – not so reasonably priced but is great for special occasions, I went there after my graduation.

Places to go for a drink

My favourite bar is either Dirty Martini in Liverpool Street or Madison which is a rooftop bar overlooking St. Paul’s. There are so many bars with great locations in London, so make sure you explore.

Coffee shops

I’m a creature of habit, so my favourite coffee shop is Starbucks, it’s consistently good everywhere I go. However they have managed to bag themselves so many great locations around the City, my favourite being the one in St Katherine Docks overlooked by Tower Bridge. You can sit there and watch the boats go in and out, it’s a really lovely location.

Hidden gems around campus

Tinseltown – I don’t know anyone who hasn’t ended up there at 3am after a heavy night of revision. It’s a short walk from Northampton Square, it’s open until really late and you can eat all the American diner food your heart desires. Nando’s in Angel is also great as City students get 20% off.

There are plenty of great places in Angel to eat – definitely take a walk down Camden Passage and Exmouth Market, both are really close to the University.

Advice for new students starting in September

Your time at University isn’t just about what you learn academically, it’s about you whole personal experience from learning to do your laundry, making new friends, dealing with personal issues and setbacks, to striking the work/social balance. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get it right the first, second or even third time – you will eventually.

Don’t hesitate to ask for support, go and see your personal tutor or the nurse, mental health nurse if you can feel yourself slipping. University life can be a massive change and City is here to support you.

The careers service is amazing, make sure you use it. I didn’t in my first year so I ended up cramming a million appointments into my last two years.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your future post-City. Think about filling out your summers with internships, you’ll thank yourself when you’re applying for full-time employment or further study after University. Also, see what part-time employment City has to offer. Unitemps and the Ambassador schemes have been a lifesaver for me financially and I’ve really enjoyed myself.

I have absolutely loved my time at City. Your time here goes so fast and I believe that is because I have enjoyed it so much. City promotes such a friendly environment and everyone is very welcoming. As soon as I saw Northampton Square I fell in love and I am sure you will too. I have a lot to thank City for and I hope that you are able to share the same experience.

Meeting new people and make friends

The best way to make friends is to completely throw yourself into everything and attend every event that you can find. Don’t worry if you haven’t found someone to go with, the chances are that the majority of people there won’t know anyone either.

You can also join a sports club or society. You’ll find people here that you have things in common with and that’s a great way to bond. I also recommend the Ambassador Scheme again, as I have made so many friends through this.

Post by Nicola Ranson, Communications Officer

Cass Alumna Wins Prestigious “The Lawyer” Award

Cass Business School News , .

susan cooperCongratulations to CEO and founder of Accutrainee and Cass alumna Susan Cooper (EMBA 2010) on winning “Most Innovative Collaboration with In-House Legal Teams” at The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards 2015.

Accutrainee bridges the gap between graduates, the provision of training contracts and the legal profession, both law firms and in-house legal teams by providing training contracts and then seconding out the trainees. They took on their first trainees in July 2012 after a lengthy process with the legal regulatory body, which was necessary to approve their completely novel approach.

This idea came about when Susan was writing her dissertation on oursourcing in the legal industry. She found junior-level work was being outsourced to India, South Africa and a host of other places that could do the work for cheaper, and also that the limited number of training contracts on offer was leading to cohorts of graduates with no opportunities.

Until Accutrainee was launched, two-year training contracts with a law firm (or in-house legal team) were the only way of getting the required two years of on-the-job training to become a solicitor. This meant, and still means, that competition is fierce, and applications for these jobs can sometimes number over 1,000.

In addition, during the recession, many legal firms cut many of their training contracts, making it even harder to move from being a graduate to gaining a training place.

At the same time, in-house legal teams found their budgets squeezed, meaning that senior lawyers ended up doing more junior work. Add to this that it’s historically been very difficult for them to offer training contracts in general, because without a dedicated legal HR team the applications can soon become overwhelming.

Accutrainee brings one neat and elegant solution to all these problems, offering trainees a route into the profession. They offer the training contracts and then second them to law firms and in-house legal teams, whilst maintaining responsibility for the trainee’s development and regulatory requirements. Secondment could be for six months at four different places, a year each at a firm and an in-house team, or two years at a single firm. This means that trainees typically get a wider breadth of experience, and the companies benefit from the junior post. It’s an idea that seeks to alleviate the inefficiencies and regulatory burden of the traditional route, as well as some of the costs, to make this process work better for everyone involved.

This solution has proved particularly useful for in-house legal teams, who are now freed up to use their senior lawyers more strategically, overseeing the junior roles, with that trainee also gaining valuable experience. It’s easy to see why they won this award!

Read more Cass-related blogs here.

How a City tutor predicted (sort of) I’d write the world’s first book on national anthems

Arts and Social Sciences News.

Republic or Death book cover

Post by Alex Marshall (Periodical Journalism 2003)

Looking back at my time at City a decade ago – I did a journalism post-grad – there’s one conversation that sticks out. It was a day when my tutor, Harriett Gilbert – probably wearing the biker jacket she normally did, maybe with a cigarette in hand – told me I should write a book.

I’m not sure she meant it – she was starting a creative writing course at the time, and might have just needed students – but it turns out I’ve now done as she advised, as if she was a soothsayer of the highest order.

She also told me to write that book in the first person, and said I shouldn’t be afraid of humour. My book follows that advice too. I’m starting to wish I’d asked her for some more life lessons, or at least what lottery numbers I should choose.

Alex in Kazakhstan

Alex ‘doing research’ in Kazakhstan, the only country with an anthem written by its head of state, the country’s dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev

The book in question is the world’s first about national anthems – one telling the fascinating, occasionally bizarre, stories of these songs and the people behind them, showing how in many parts of the world these songs couldn’t me more vital. It also reveals how these songs have been at the centre of some of history’s most important events: everything from the end of apartheid to the Arab Spring.

It’s a book that forced me to use all my City journalism training as it required research in 14 countries, although City didn’t teach me to pretend to be an academic to avoid being arrested, as I had to do several times in Egypt.

It wasn’t clear I’d end up doing this despite Harriet’s comments. The best thing about the City course was it forced us to try every type of journalism: writing for newspapers one day, business magazines the next, even doing bits of radio. For most of my career since, I’ve actually been an environmental journalist, writing about everything from international climate conferences to the frequency of bin collections. Music journalism was just something I did in my spare time.

But one day during the Beijing Olympics, I had the idea to listen to all the world’s anthems and rank them out of 10. The slightly-ludicrous piece I ended up writing about that quest ended up making front-page news in places like Bangladesh and Nepal (“Bangladesh wins silver!” screamed one headline) and because of that I became increasingly obsessed with these songs, why we still have them, who wrote them and what they’ve achieved.

Alex in Nepal

Alex with Amber Gurung, the composer of Nepal’s bizarre national anthem, the only one written on a Casio keyboard.

Interestingly, the place where these songs seemed to have the least meaning was here, in Britain, where most people can’t remember the last time they sang God Save the Queen, let alone all the words. Very few people here would say the anthem is integral to their sense of national identity, or claim it’s the piece of music they turn to at moments of crisis or celebration. Most actually seem to think it’s an awful song that says nothing about Britain today, and they’re right.

That explains why, in a way, I’ve been surprised by the furore over Jeremy Corbyn refusing to sing it. I keep on getting asked to talk about it on radio shows, while a piece I wrote about it for the Telegraph somehow got over 1,000 comments, most telling me to emigrate.

It isn’t the topic I’d have predicted to generate publicity for my book – I was expecting that to be a chapter on the Islamic State’s anthem – but then I imagine Harriet probably warned me about this 10 years ago. Once you’ve written a book, it’s out of your hands – you can’t decide how people react to it.

I should really track her down for a drink. Perhaps she’ll have some ideas about what I should write about for the follow-up.

Alex Marshall’s Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems is out now. His blog about the book, including more anthems than you could ever want to listen to, is at republicordeath.com 

 

I left my City Banking Career to become an Entrepreneur

Cass Business School News.

bio picHenrik Ottosson has recently exchanged his City investment banking job for the entrepreneurial life, and is loving it. He is currently working for Invesdor, a Northern European crowdfunding and investment site with more than 8,000 investments so far, averaging €170,000 per round.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

I studied Banking and International Finance at Cass from 1995 to 1998, back when the school was based at the Barbican. I must say that this building here in Bunhill Row is lovely, it really feels like an investment bank! Coming to study at Cass was the first time I’d been to the UK and I’ve been here ever since.

What have you been up to since then?

I went into investment banking in the City, and then two years ago I decided to become an entrepreneur. I am now the UK manager for the Nordic crowdfunding website Invesdor.

I understand that another Cass alumnus is part of the Invesdor team as well?

Invesdor started in Finland two and a half years ago, by Lasse Mäkelä (Banking and International Finance, 1997) and a few others, focussing on the Nordic region as there were no crowdfunding sites in the region. I actually came to the business as an investor. With crowdfunding it’s easy to move from investor to getting involved in the companies, and a year ago became part of the team, charged with expanding into the UK.

In April they became the first crowdfunding company to be regulated in all of the EEA, and are now looking for more entrepreneurs to bring into the portfolio. They want entrepreneurs both who are starting out and who are looking to expand. But it’s not just about the money, it’s about the marketing. Running a crowdfunding campaign is a great way to both get investment and increase recognition of your brand.

What are the benefits of crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding has removed that distance between the investor and the recipient. Traditional private equity investments involved a middle man who managed the money and the relationships, and the investor just sat back and watched the money grow. Now, with crowdfunding, there’s that closer connection, and in fact there are many more cases now of the investors actually getting involved in the company, like I did, bringing contacts and expertise, and really helping it grow as well.

Do you attend many alumni events?

I am increasingly going to more alumni events. When I was in investment banking, I had my own network which worked for me, but as an entrepreneur you really need to reach out much wider. The alumni events are fantastic for this because you already have that connection with people. It’s also much easier with the social media that the alumni network has, which really adds to the community feeling. I’ve also just taken part as an advisor on the City Starters weekend.

What is your top tip for entrepreneurs?

Start early! It takes much longer than you expect for things to get going. Most companies that we work with usually want to get up and running straight away, but it’s more important to get the marketing, network and funding in place first.

With the benefit of hindsight, what would you tell yourself in the past, when you were thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?

I became an entrepreneur two years ago and I have never looked back! You’re never really ready to strike out on your own, but if you have an idea you really should believe in yourself and get on with it. I could have done it earlier, but there is a time for everything.

What’s next for you?

Invesdor already number 1 in the Nordic region, and are launching in the UK, so we are busy building their entrepreneur network. The UK as it has the largest crowdfunding market in the EEA and we want to make an impact here.

Personally, I want to carry on being an entrepreneur, it’s really interesting to meet lots of people from different industries, and I’m really excited to be part of the emerging FinTech industry. It’s really disrupting traditional finance and London is the best place to be if you want to be part of it.

Crowdfunding, social media, networking and brand awareness are all part of starting up a new business today and it’s so exciting to be part of the process.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!

Favourite place in London? Churchill Arms in Notting Hill
Favourite holiday destination? Lebanon
Must-check every day website? Invesdor
Dream travel destination? There are too many to choose from! Greenland would be amazing
Cheese or chocolate? Cheese

For more information on Invesdor click here.

Read more Cass-related blogs here.

Phuong Nguyen, Monaco 2014 Bursary Recipient

Cass Business School News , .

Phuong NguyenAt the Monaco 2014 Alumni Weekend, money was donated at several of the events, which went towards a Monaco Bursary for a Cass student in need of financial assistance. The recipient of this award was Phuong Nguyen, and one year later she has been in touch to tell us a little more about herself and what receiving the bursary meant to her.

“Thank you for having chosen me among many excellent applicants as a recipient of the Monaco Bursary. I am immensely grateful and honoured to have earned this opportunity. By receiving this bursary, I feel my academic accomplishments have been truly recognized. I am also very pleased to have helped lighten the burden of high tuition fees pressed on my parents. However, with great opportunity comes great responsibility, I understand the need to hold myself more accountable towards my study to meet the trust and expectations I have received. This will play a substantial role in motivating me to work harder to show my full potentials and achieve my set goals. I will try my best to show that you have made the right decision. I am very eager to continue to reap great academic results, contribute my abilities to the university community as well as experience my university life at Cass Business School this September.

“Why I chose to study in London and my background:

“I was born and grew up in Hanoi, the beautiful capital of Vietnam. This energetic city, which never sleeps, has led me to be familiar with the fast-paced lifestyle. However, despite its chaos, Hanoi still retains its cultural beauty with many historical attractions and traditional cuisine. I found London also having the harmonious coexistence of modern and medieval lifestyle, which is what I love most about my homeland. Being a multicultural city, London also offers me a chance to discover various cultures, contemplating the art and history of each, which are displayed in numerous museums and galleries. Additionally, London is considered one of the biggest financial hub in the world, making it’s the perfect place to develop my interest and potential in this field.

“How I intend to fund my study:

“I will get a part time job to become even more financially independent of my parents and support my living and study expenses. City University offers many on-campus job opportunities, which I will make use of to make my working more convenient, better my soft skills, and also collect hands-on experience. My time management skills will ensure that my part time job will not interfere with my study so I can develop my full potential and continue to perform well academically at university.

“Bursary Application:

“This bursary will enable me to continue my study in the UK and follow my passion in Accounting and Finance.

“Various experiences during my study in London prompted me to develop the study skills required to become a great candidate for this bursary. Unlike the traditional learning style in Vietnam, I realised that it is necessary to go beyond what was given in lectures and ask questions and do further research to understand the subject to the full and gain an individual perspective of it. It is through active search for deeper knowledge that the beauty of each subject is revealed. Therefore, I did not focus solely on my favourite subject, Accounting, and performed well in all subjects.

“The high tuition fees have posed a substantial problem to me, a student coming from a developing country. Despite being a meaningful career, doctor is not a high paying job in Vietnam. In addition to being a doctor at the National Cardiovascular Hospital, my mother also runs a clinic outside of working hours to try to earn enough money to pay for my tuition fees. This means she works 12 hours on a weekday and Saturday as well. This has damaged both her physical and mental health. As my parents will reach retirement age soon, our financial problem will be even more serious in the near future.

“This bursary will help me become less financially dependent on my parents, contribute my strength to the university community and fulfill my dream of being a successful chartered accountant.”

Read our news story about the Monaco 2014 event here.

Read more Cass-related blogs here.

Cass Alumnus is Barnet’s Youngest Ever Mayor

Careers, Cass Business School News , .

Official mayor photoCouncillor Mark Shooter, Mayor of Barnet, is the youngest ever person to hold this position, and an Actuarial Science graduate from 1992. We went to interview him for a chat about how he got into politics, the diversity of Barnet and the pressures of funding cuts, as well as going on safari in South Africa.

What was your time at Cass like?

“I studied Actuarial Science at Northampton Square, and it was a very hard course requiring lots of studying. The exams in particular were very intense. I thought it was a fantastic course and it let me to a top job in an actuarial consultant’s office straight after I graduated. I was also exempt from six of the formal actuarial examinations thanks to the academic rigour of the course.

How did you go from Actuarial Science to Mayor of Barnet?

“I stayed in that first actuarial role for two years, taking two further examinations towards being a certified actuarial analyst, but then I decided I wanted to do something else. As a profession, it’s too risk-averse and I wanted to do something that involved a little more risk. I moved on to Swiss Bank, dealing with investment banks, trading and hedge funds.

“In 2010 the market became quite volatile and I decided to seek new challenges. I was after something where I could give my time and energy to the community, as well as developing my charitable foundation. I wanted to do something really meaningful and then one day an information leaflet about ‘becoming a councillor’ dropped through my door. I didn’t really know what one did, and the only real interactions I’d had with the council were to get them to fix the pavement, to pay parking tickets, and for rubbish collection. I learned that Barnet council has a £1bn budget and is responsible for education, social welfare, the environment, voluntary organisations and more, and decided to get involved.

“I helped Matthew Offord become an MP and in return he backed me to become a councillor in Hendon. I have been a councillor for five years now, and enjoy making small differences to people’s lives, whether it’s by sending an email, going to a meeting, or by lobbying for someone’s interests or rights.”

Brooklands Junior School with Mayor

Was entering the public sector an easy transition?

“When I was first elected I wanted to take over the whole council but I missed out on becoming the leader. I realised then I actually needed to take a step back and take some time to find my feet in the public sector before pushing on forwards, so I focussed and took it a bit slower. Gradually, I took on more responsibility, before becoming the chairman of the pension fund, which ties in nicely with my actuarial background, as well as being a member of the planning committee. Barnet Council has £1bn pension fund, and together with all 33 London boroughs we have pension assets of over £30bn. The Government is trying to save on administrative costs, and to gather resources together for efficiency, so now I’m on the board of investors of all the London pension funds with an aim to push down the costs of administering the investments and return a high level of savings.”

What does being Mayor of Barnet actually involve?

“As a Mayor I have three main duties. The first is my civic duty to meet and greet royals who come to my constituency and to be present at official events such as Remembrance Day and Armed Forces Day. I get to open schools and libraries and also raise the profile of other local events by attending in my Mayoral capacity. The second is in upholding the council constitution. I chair the full council meetings, keep decorum and my decision is final if there are any disputes on rules. And my third duty is to raise money for charity. We pick an annual charity and I have actually convened a committee to help with this because I wanted to support a number of local causes. In the end we chose four different ones: a local cancer charity, a charity that works with homeless people in Barnet, a charity for muscular dystrophy which came about because a couple of the mothers on the committee have children with this condition, and an educational charity that supports children who require extra educational assistance but don’t have this provided through their school via a special needs statement.”

Would you recommend becoming a Councillor to other people?

“Becoming a councillor has been such a rewarding experience. I have had the chance to do so many and varied things, and it’s really enhanced my social life as well. I also like that it’s not a full time role, so that still gives me time to spend with my five kids, and on my charitable trust.”

What’s next for you?

“I’ve taken on a consultancy role within the Government, advising on pensions and investments, and I’m finally studying for my last actuarial exams, which have increased in number since I was last part of the profession. It’s hard to go back to studying as there’s huge competition from very bright youngsters with lots of energy. Competing against them with all my responsibilities is hard but I’m still feeling confident, energetic and nimble.”

Barnet Music and Literary Festival with Mayor

What’s the biggest issue facing Councillors today?

“Barnet council is the largest in London, with a very diverse 400,000 people living here. 35% of my constituents were born outside the UK, it’s home to the largest Chinese community in the country and there are large Jewish, Indian and Greek-Cypriot communities too, plus a large number of elderly residents. This diversity is good, but it also presents challenges locally, in terms of looking after all the different communities. This area is so successful because of the excellent schools, there are 124 here and we have to maintain standards. All of this is difficult because we are facing severe cutbacks in our budget. Other boroughs have been shutting down libraries and services, but we are trying to do it by making efficiency savings and schemes like turning some libraries into community libraries. We’ve also got 6 museums which we’re fighting to keep open, we really need to keep the cultural side of Barnet alive, so we’re outsourcing some things to save money. We’re struggling with the extra cuts from the new budget announced in the summer though. We are also committed to building a large number of houses, although that’s presenting us with some infrastructure challenges.”

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

“Well, I actually have a 16-year-old son, so I’ve been practising this lately. I’d say make sure you get good A-levels, they are crucial for university, so keep on with those GCSEs and make sure to get at least a B in English. Politics is good, but go through a roundabout route. Start a career first, so that you have some life experience when you go into politics, and make sure you get professional qualifications too. That doesn’t mean you can’t get involved along the way though; you should take an interest in politics, join local associations and get involved in events and electoral campaigns, they will build your experience and social skills, and you can make a difference as well.”

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

Favourite place in London: “It’s got to be Barnet!”

Favourite holiday destination: “Israel.”

Must-check-everyday Website: “I have several – I always check the markets on the IG Index, Sky News and the Daily Mail app.”

Dream travel destination: “South Africa – I want to take my kids on safari.”

Cheese or chocolate: “Chocolate every time!”

Any other facts about yourself? “I’m 6’1”, I support Spurs, and I worked for 10 years at the Business Design Centre in Angel.”

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