From Cass to Mykonos Holiday Villas

Cass Business School News , .


Nikos Iatrou (MSc Property Valuation and Law, 2006) quit his 9-5 for a real estate job with a difference – luxury holiday villas Maera Villas in Mykonos, and a sideline of cold-pressed juices. We sat down for a chat about how it all came about.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

I came to Cass in 2005 to do a Masters in what was then Property Valuation and Law with George Herd. I intended to go in to commercial real estate. I really enjoyed the course, but to be honest I didn’t really know what I signed up for!

The law side was super challenging, but it was a great course – it certainly had its tricky moments! The content was very useful and I used a lot of it at work straight after; it wasn’t cheap to do but I felt it was money well spent, and I believe I’ve got a good return on my investment.

I’ve only got good memories from Cass and I still have many friends and work contacts from my time studying.

Where did you go next?

Right after finishing my degree I joined a real estate firm in the West End called Savoy Stewart, and it was really useful that I already had a good network of contacts from Cass that I could use straight away. I went with the aim of becoming a RICS Chartered Surveyor. I stayed for two years and qualified as MRICS. But I soon realised I don’t really enjoy a desk job, working 9-5 every day and that whole working format. And this is really where my story begins!

What gave you the idea for holiday villas?

As part of my final piece of coursework for the degree, I had actually done a project about the development of a holiday villa in Greece, so you can see I was already interested in things further afield.

How did you end up in Mykonos?

After qualifying as MRICS and some world travelling I decided to get into villa properties and hospitality in Greece – Greece has had a fraught time of things, but from a real estate point of view it is very interesting – I applied the principle that I learned from Cass to opportunistically find a good opportunity with potential.

I found Mykonos – I looked at others too – but here I went and looked all over seeking a builder or a developer in a difficult spot who I could buy property from to rent out.

What happened next?

I found the ideal properties and bought them and began to reconfigure them, as well as doing the marketing and promotion. Then when people started showing up I was also responsible for the hospitality side of the business. This was summer 2015.

The houses are really cool and brand new, and in the main one we did lots of additions, like a really cool secret disco built in to the rocks, and a custom-built hot tub.


I looked to improve the properties in many ways – something I learned at Cass is to find your angle and add value to your real estate investments. The summer went very well, we had quite a few bookings and everyone was astounded by the accommodation. This summer it’s looking like it will be even crazier as more people get to hear of our villas.

Do you have any other projects?

I also set up a side company in Mykonos, a small-scale cold pressed juice company. I was living in New York for a while when the craze was really taking off there – you know, green juices for health, and cold pressing to keep more nutrients. So I put two and two together and decided to try it in Mykonos. It’s both a place where healthier-minded people go for a holiday as well as somewhere where people might overindulge and want to detox the next day.

Last summer I did an official one-month pilot to see how it went, and it was pretty cool actually, and we got lots of social media buzz. We offered the juices to yoga instructors, who sent us their clients, and through this we got to some Instagram celebrities who were staying on the island and it quickly became a big deal. In the end it went on for 2 months and we didn’t do any marketing and didn’t have a point of sale, it was all very successful and we’re certainly going to launch properly this summer.

Do you have more villas in the pipeline?

Yes we are actually in the process of doing up some new ones we recently bought so we have some new villas to add to the portfolio. I’ve also been asked to take over some other properties as well. Currently there are 9 villas now, with a few more to add, all similar in that they are high-value luxury accommodation.

Do you do all this alone?

Last year I had three people working with me, all from the US actually, and it was a great experience for the whole team. We lived together for four months and they all went off after – so I’m looking to recruit people to fill their positions. If you’re interested – contact the alumni team or find me on instagram @maeravillas.

Were there any unexpected challenges or problems?

Oh yes – what to pick!

Greek bureaucracy is very difficult to plan and deal with. In the end I got support from local tax and accounting (never my strong point) specialists and also I tried to actively understand the basics.

Dealing with the villa’s clients can be tricky at times. People are very particular on holiday; we always had the attitude that we can accommodate any request – but that led to a few difficult situations with people requesting unreasonable things, like one group who wanted a full meal prepared by a top chef within an hour’s notice – we scrambled but we managed to get it done.

With the juices we had a whole other set of problems! For example, you might not always be able to get all the ingredients so you have to find the right substitutes. Fine-tuning the recipes took a long time until we were happy with the taste basics and nutritional level. And from a business point of view it was a challenge to come up with a recipe that was not unprofitable at base cost. There were tons of marketing challenges too, because we were working on a tiny shoestring budget. Getting the Instagram celebrities involved came as a result of our initiative to have brand ambassadors, who were the local yoga and pilates instructors who we gave commission to for referrals.

Also, lack of sleep! I had about three hours a night for about three months!

What one thing would you like to go back and tell yourself when you were starting out?

I’d definitely arrange better accommodation for myself and my team. It was a smallish place and the lack of space and close proximity could cause a few fractious moments. Also sleeping pills!

What’s next for you?

The Villas we currently have are on a high-end scale and I want to expand and get more if the right opportunity is there. In Mykonos and Greece in general, the problems may have stabilised but they are still there so I’m working hard to find ways to safeguard against any volatility.

Also, from my experience in our summer accommodation I realised that summer-long rental properties are in short supply for seasonal workers. I’m now in negotiation for a plot of land away from the commercial areas, to develop small (2 person) units for people working in Mykonos in the summer. Again my Cass learning has come in handy here – I’ve already secured a rental guarantee from a landlord for five years, ensuring a good initial yield.

The other problem to solve, is what do I do in the winter? This winter I’m going travelling but in general I’m trying to find other stuff to do. I’m also looking at small refurbs of London properties, as I’ve got friends who have been doing that sort of thing for a while.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!
What’s your favourite place in London? Hyde Park
Your favourite holiday destination? Mykonos
Your must-check-every day website? BBC Football, especially Tottenham Hotspur’s page
Your dream travel destination? I’m actually about to start doing it now – Nepal before I go back to Mykonos, get all spiritual and relaxed
Cheese or chocolate? *big sigh* I like both! Chocolate!

Check out the villas at and find Nikos on instagram @maeravillas.

Facilitating better Post Operative Care

Health Sciences News.


Research undertaken by the Kings Fund has shown that the number of hospital beds has been declining for many years in England. Over the past 26 years the number of available hospital beds in England has more than halved. This decrease is more marked in beds for people with learning disabilities, mental illness and for longer-term care of older people.

The National Audit Office has suggested that hospitals with average bed occupancy levels above 85 per cent can expect to have regular bed shortages, periodic bed crises and increased numbers of health care-acquired infections. Such shortages can compromise patient’s effective recovery and can even put lives at risk. Consequently beds in the NHS are under intense pressure more than ever.

Bed space is further challenged by poor discharge planning but more significantly by patient readmission. Patient readmission is a critical issue for all hospitals and is a major expense to the NHS. With effective management this cost can be reduced if modern systems are made available to help hospitals manage and alleviate this pressure. Such systems would need to offer managers and clinicians the ability to change current practices at scale and pace rather than being incremental and offering marginal change and savings.

For a long time, physicians and nurses have recognised the importance of recovery in a patient’s treatment cycle. By closely monitoring the quality of a patient’s recovery, staff are able to detect any developing unwellness early allowing it to be quickly and effectively handled. Alternatively, if not treated, it could eventually develop into a serious condition thus requiring a longer hospital stay or if not detected, may result in a readmission, each consequence adding further cost and burden to the NHS. Consequently, better patient outcomes allow for reduced length of stay. Decreased length of stay reduces the level of resources a hospital needs to allocate so by allowing it to effectively reduce and manage its costs by attuning its services towards all patients.

Until now, monitoring a patient’s quality of recovery has been poorly measured and evaluated. Data collection can be very haphazard, confusing to patients and staff and limited in scope. Some basic methods currently used in some hospitals are labour intensive and offer limited clinical value due to their lack of depth and range. Consequently a significant opportunity exists to develop the art of postoperative quality of recovery monitoring and evaluation as a clinical tool. This would be achieved by creating a modern patient centric system that harnesses the power of big data whose interface allows for differing language and cultures to be immediately understood. So rather than placing patient’s secondary to IT systems an opportunity exists to develop a flexible web-based solution using evidenced based comparative data to measure, evaluate and improve patient outcomes while helping to develop best clinical practice.

The solution

An international team including researchers at City University London’s School of Health Sciences have been working to address the issue of measuring and evaluating the quality of patient recovery after surgery (post-operative recovery).

Over recent years, an innovative and unique tool has been developed which has the potential to benefit all patients, doctors, hospitals and the NHS. An easy to use web-based system allows doctors, researchers and managers to monitor and evaluate a patient’s recovery from surgery. It is called PostopQRS™. (Postoperative Quality of Recovery Scale).

PostopQRS™ is at an exciting stage of its development with over 50 research clinicians having successfully used the technology in studies. PostopQRS™ currently exists in research trial mode and is not yet optimised for general launch but endorsement received to date from evaluators indicate that it could have a significant impact on monitoring and evaluating post-operative recovery. PostopQRS™ has uniquely received endorsement from two societies related to enhance patient recovery and so this helps validate City University London belief, that with the right type of support, PostopQRS™ has the ability to transform the current clinical service model to benefit both patients and the NHS.

By using a tablet or smart phone, with a minimal amount of training, hospital staff, be it a doctor, nurse or carer can evaluate a patient within 6 minutes, assessing their physical, emotional, pain and cognitive health domains. Due to PostopQRS™ ease of use, simple interface and its ability to quickly process data, readings can be taken repeatedly at predetermined times throughout the period of patient care. It can be done in person or over the phone after a patient has been discharged so offering post discharge support and monitoring.

The data collected can be used to:

  • Objectively assess how a patient recovers from surgery using evidenced based data
  • Analyse trends from groups of patients enabling the manipulation of ‘big data’ to identify best practice, trends and outcomes and comparing hospitals in their delivery of patient treatment interventions.
  • Help improve recovery from surgery for elderly and high risk patients
  • Evaluate a patients physiological, emotional and cognitive health after surgery as well as their medical condition
  • Evaluate techniques and conditions to support doctors as they plan post-operative and discharge care

Benefits of PostopQRS™

PostopQRS™ will have immense benefits to patients:

  • A patient being monitored by PostopQRS™ will know that their care is being regularly monitored on multiple levels, not just the medical outcome of their surgery. The system allows doctors to monitor post-surgery anxiety, sickness, cognition and many other important factors. At the moment these are not monitored in a way that demonstrates if one area impacts on another.
  • They will benefit from an early warning system, if they are not recovering then the system will quickly flag this to their doctor.
  • The patient will know that they are receiving the best intervention, structured in the best way for their particular problem.
  • Allows for a fundamental shift towards care that is co-ordinated around the full range of a patient’s needs (rather than care based around a single disease).

PostopQRS™ will have a considerable impact on the NHS:

  • The system will save doctors time, improve their abilities to monitor their patients and improve care levels. They will be able to review and monitor all their patients remotely and in real time.
  • The system will allow hospitals to know how different doctors are performing against their peers, they will know what interventions work best for which medical condition and help guide resource allocation (for each medical condition) and investment decisions.
  • The system will allow the NHS to compare hospitals with each other, guide their investment decisions based on data and will be able to direct resources for the biggest benefit to patients.
  • It allows for a more integrated care system as the tool fosters a new level of patient centred care and allows for a genuine patient partnership in their recovery.
  • Data collected will help managers decide on how services are commissioned and paid for and will allow them to compare how improvements in care are delivered across hospitals, regions and nationally within the NHS.

PostopQRS™ will provide an outstanding research tool to enable healthcare professionals to make major improvements to the quality of patient care:

  • to identify what can be done to stop patients developing chronic pain after surgery
  • to understand what long term harm may result from anaesthesia, particular following repeated anaesthetics
  • to learn what outcomes should be used to measure the success of anaesthesia and peri-operative care
  • to improve recovery from surgery for elderly and high risk patients
  • to assess for which patients does regional anaesthesia give better outcomes than general anaesthesia
  • to enhance recovery programmes measuring short and long-term outcomes
  • to help improve communication between teams looking after patients throughout their surgical journey

The future of PostopQRS™

With the exception of corporate charitable support from a major healthcare company, this project has been self-funded by the institutions represented by the international team managing the project. More development is required before PostopQRS™ can be fully launched as a self sustainable model. The objective is that it will be run as a self-funded system by clinicians and managers from hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other bodies paying a subscription to access the tools processing and reporting abilities which will help to guide investment, spending, future research and best practice across the UK and internationally.

There is already considerable interest from NHS hospitals, private healthcare providers and international health systems who would benefit from implementing the technology. As the lead research partner, City University London is keen to launch this system which is very much aligned to the School of Health Sciences Allied Health Care agenda.

Support required

The University aims to secure at least £150,000 for key parts of the project which are currently preventing the team from developing a sustainable, patient focused business. This includes:

  • Funding for the salary of a Project Manager to take this exciting system to the stage where it can be launched as a self-sustaining enterprise
  • Upgrading the features and mobile functionality of the website to be customer friendly so that patients will be encouraged to use the system
  • Formalising and producing the supporting and commercial infrastructure to allow for self-sustaining operations
  • Securing ISO certification, subcontractors and IP to ensure the project can become a viable enterprise


Measuring and evaluating the quality of patient recovery is the focus of PostopQRS™. The tool can quickly alert clinicians and carers if patient’s recovery is becoming compromised. Rather than providing fragmented information about a patient treatment (or series of patients) PostopQRS™ proactively passes on the full picture of recovery rather than pockets of ad hoc information to carers and clinicians. Accordingly, the system provides a more holistic picture of a patient’s journey through recovery so providing a more integrated doctor/patient care pathway.

We expect that PostopQRS™, as a tool, will make a significant difference for all surgical patients and improve communication between surgical and non-surgical teams looking after patients throughout their surgical journey.

This innovative system is designed to measure and evaluate the outcomes for patients after surgery having the potential to benefit patients from six years old and upwards. Currently there is nothing that can deliver such comprehensive support to patients, doctors, and the NHS and drug providers so completion of the development programme will allow PostopQRS™ to become self-sustainable so it can be promoted to a wider audience.

For more information please contact David Street by email on or call on 0207 040 5556.

Image credit © Flickr user daveynin

Cass Alumnus Produces India’s Best-Rated Spirit

Cass Business School News , .

sIMG_0016Oscar De Sequeira Nazareth graduated in 2004 with a BSc in Investment and Financial Risk Management. He has since gone on to produce India’s best-rated spirit ever – the only Indian product to win the Gold Outstanding (top award) at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 47 years of the competition – twice in a row! This product, Licor Armada, is now available in the UK. We corresponded by email to see how he did it.

Tell me about you time at Cass!

I joined at the time CUBS was renamed Cass and we got our lovely new building at Bunhill Row – an exciting time for me and the business school!

When I moved to London from the small city in Portugal where I grew up, I was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and all the incredible opportunities on offer. Being at a world-class business school on the edge of the City with experienced professionals as lecturers was the icing on the cake.

I absolutely loved my time at Cass, and tried to make the most of it – one of the highlights of my young life was captaining our University Challenge team and making it onto the televised rounds!

Did you stay in London afterwards – I understand you pursued a career in Investment Banking?

After graduating, I joined the graduate management scheme at Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), and then moved on to Deutsche Bank where I worked on the Equity Derivatives trading floor – both jobs made me grow in very different ways!

What made you want to change? How did you get the idea for Licor Armada?

Well, during Christmas 2011 I was on holiday in Goa, India – where my family is originally from – and I decided to try making an all-natural liqueur from an old family recipe that dated back to the Portuguese Empire.

When it matured, the results were outstanding – I’d never tasted anything like it in my life, despite a fairly wide experience sampling various tipples in London bars, courtesy of a work hard, play hard lifestyle!

I decided to play around with a spreadsheet and work out if I could make a viable business out of Armada; by March 2012 I had moved to Goa – the rest is history :)

What was the biggest unexpected challenge in implementing your idea?

Most entrepreneurs usually say that had they been aware of all the obstacles, they’d never have started their companies… and I’m no different.

I knew that starting a business in India would be harder than in the UK, but I had no idea how much harder it would be to deal with the Government.

Whereas you can register a company in 4 hours in the UK from the comfort of your home, in India it took me over a month to do the same – despite a rule stating SME approvals should take 2 working days.

I was also asked to make repeated visits to the state capital for an important issue with my application, made to wait for ages only to have a quick and meaningless chat.

My biggest surprise was that the official at the Excise Department did not know the difference between ‘liqueur’ and ‘liquor’, and refused to believe that liqueurs could be registered! “You can make whisky, brandy, or rum only”, he said, ignoring the copy of the Excise Act I had brandished, with the relevant liqueur sections highlighted.

Later on, more enlightened friends explained that it was likely I was being subtly asked for bribes – due to my density, this eluded me entirely and I’m proud not to have contributed to corruption in India!

What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?

I guess it’s the same with most entrepreneurs – regardless of success, the personal and professional growth is phenomenal. I remember enjoying summer internships with small companies because of how much I learnt, and entrepreneurship has taken things to a whole new level!

The recognition has been pretty nice, too – winning the top medal at the most prestigious spirits competition in the world (IWSC), two years running, left me speechless!

Thanks to our win we were able to export internationally – Armada is now available in the UK, and we’re looking for new markets to expand to!

If you could give yourself when you were starting out one piece of advice, what would it be?

Leap, and the net will appear. It may seem trite and clichéd, but it’s so true. When you’re stuck and need help, you’ll be surprised at the number of people who are there for you! The main thing is to get up, get going and get out there.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!
Favourite place in London? The streets. It’s just so nice to walk around, take in the sights and discover all the festivals, fairs, tiny specialist shops etc – often in the most unexpected places.
Favourite holiday destination? Portugal. The food, climate, people, culture and heritage are fantastic – I’m glad the rest of the world is slowly discovering this too!
Must-check-everyday Website? The Economist. I’ve been a subscriber since my undergrad days!
Dream Travel Destination? It’s cheating a little, but I’d say a tour of South America. Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires, Mount Roraima, the Galapagos Islands, Brazil… what’s not to like?
Cheese or Chocolate? I’m a big fan of dark chocolate, but I’d pick cheese any day – the smellier the better :)

For queries about Armada, contact; for UK orders contact For students, staff and alumni, you can get a 5% discount on MRP using discount code CASS.

City University London and Cass Business School Alumni – Where Are They Now?

Arts and Social Sciences News, Cass Business School News, City News, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News , .

It’s January graduations this week, and to celebrate we’ve been having a look at our alumni all over the world. And we mean all over the world! We wanted to find out where they are, and what they are doing – and here are the results for everyone we have up-to-date details for.

Where are City alumni?

where in the world_city

What jobs are City alumni doing?

city degree

Where are Cass alumni?

where in the world_cass

What jobs are Cass alumni doing?

cass degree

You can contact the local alumni network in your country on our Alumni Ambassador pages. We have separate pages for City and Cass but the alumni work together.

New Year’s Honours – Congratulations!




Paul Curran: Vice-Chancellor, City University London
Knighthood for services to Higher Education

Harvey McGrath: Honorary Graduate 2007
Knighthood for services to Economic Growth and Public Life

Alan Yarrow: Former Chancellor and Lord Mayor of London
Knighthood for services to International Business, Inclusion and the City of London


Heather Rabbatts: Honorary Graduate 1999
Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire for public service and services to Football and Equality


Maree Barnett, Head of Emerging Infections, Department of Health: BSc Nursing and Midwifery 1996
OBE for services to Public Health

Pim (Pamela) Baxter, Deputy Director, National Portrait Gallery: MA Arts Administration 1990
OBE for services to the Arts

Prof Helen Odell-Miller, Professor of Music Therapy and Director,Music Therapy Research Centre, Anglia Ruskin University: MPhil Music Therapy 1989
OBE for services to Music Therapy

Cedric Wake, Chief Executive, The Nautical Institute: MSc Shipping, Trade and Finance 1989
OBE for services to the Maritime Industry


Bradley Hemmings, Artistic Director, Greenwich and Docklands International Festival: MA Arts Administration 1987
MBE for services to Culture and Disability Arts particularly in London

David Hong, Optometrist: MSC Clinical Optometry 1998
MBE for services to Optometry particularly voluntary service to Optometry Abroad

Janet Leach, Head of Disabled Children’s Services, London Borough of Enfield: Currently doing her MSc Voluntary Sector Management (Conversion)
MBE for services to Children with Special Educational Needs

Elizabeth Lees, Deputy Director, Nursing and Patient Experience, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust: SONM Undergraduate Occasional 2007
MBE for services to Nursing

Helen Marriage, Founder, Artichoke: Dip Arts Administration 1987
MBE for services to the Arts and Outdoor Performance

Carmel McConnell, Founder, Magic Breakfast charity: MBA 1993
MBE for services to School Food

Jaz Rabadia, Senior Manager of Energy and Initiatives, Starbucks and STEM Ambassador: MSc Energy and Environmental Technology and Economics 2010
MBE for services to Sustainability in the Energy Management Sector and Diversity in the STEM Sectors

Congratulations to you all!

My Social Enterprise Journey

Cass Business School News.

RiyaWe went for a chat with Riya Pabari (Investment Management MSc 2009) of Do Nation about social enterprise, and how you can make a difference, just by making small changes to your life.

Tell me about your time at Cass!

I went straight from my Undergraduate degree in Economics at Cambridge to my MSc in Investment Management from 2008-2009. I enjoyed portfolio theory, had an entertaining derivatives course, and I really loved behavioural economics. It’s fascinating why people do stuff, as well as why the government and corporations allocate their resources in the way they do.

What did you do next?

After graduating, I went into the City for five years as a portfolio manager. I really enjoyed it, particularly in the last two years, as I got to do lots of travelling to Asian countries like South Korea, Japan and Singapore, looking at their macroeconomic policies trying to work out an investment thesis around their currencies.

I enjoyed the learning aspect of this and getting to know different cultures at a policy level. This led to me thinking a lot about how the global economy works, and how that sits alongside increased social tensions and increased environmental degradation and I began to think there must be a different way. Our current system doesn’t account for how much we create and destroy the communities and environment around us.

In fact, I just read a piece of research by the UN that said that if environmental costs were taken into account, there would be barely any industries that were profitable.

How did you go from that to where you are today?

In January 2015 I decided to change careers and applied to a one year leadership programme called “On Purpose”. It’s for young professionals who want to harness their commercial expertise for good. The year entails two six-month placements plus weekly training on a Friday afternoon, mentorship and career coaching. I’m currently doing a placement at Do Nation, a social tech startup.

I remember being excited by the tech-for-good space when I watched my first ever TED talk. It was by Luis von Ahn, the Guatemalan founder of Duolingo. He said that before the internet, the biggest projects in the world like the pyramids, landing on the moon, the Suez Canal, involved a maximum of about 150,000 people. Post-internet, collaborations can be up to 750million people! I think we are only just beginning to understand the power of the collaboration. If harnessed for good, it could revolutionise healthcare, education and our ability to live sustainably.

I’d love to live in a world where ‘social business’ becomes a tautology because social business is just business as usual. With the rise of the B Corp movement, it’s already happening. Businesses are starting to consider a wider set of stakeholders, like the environment and their local communities. In fact, enlightened self-interest is a good first step; for example Coca Cola, a purely profit-driven business, has started to invest heavily in water security, to make sure that they can keep making their products in the long run. I’m really passionate about introducing these concepts in schools, to capture kids in their early years. After all, they are the business leaders of tomorrow.

What does Do Nation do?

It’s an online platform that offers individuals, universities, and businesses the opportunity to set up personalised campaigns to inspire friends, students, and employees to adopt simple energy-saving, carbon-cutting, sustainable behaviours – Do Actions. Anything from cycling to work, to becoming part-time vegan, to switching energy supplier. Our goal is to make sustainable living mainstream, by making it fun and social.

Have you made any lifestyle changes?

I’ve pledged #AllMadeUp which is to make gifts rather than buy them, and #PassionFashion which is about building a sustainable wardrobe. There are so many great designers putting the circular economy into practice by turning waste materials into fashion items. I recently discovered a company called Tread & Pedals who basically create jewellery and artworks using up-cycled bicycle bits. As a cyclist, I just love the idea of earrings made out of recycled inner tube!

What’s been your coolest project?

At Do Nation, we primarily work with businesses, helping them engage their employees in sustainability. However, the really cool part of what we do is the B2C part, what we call The Free Tier. For example, if you’re running a marathon, you can use Do Nation to raise support through actions, rather than cash. Actually, I’ve just finished doing my own pledge drive – we cycled to Paris for the COP 21 Climate Conference. In order to raise awareness for climate change, we asked our friends and family to support us with pledges. We’d like to show people that together our actions can add up to make a big difference!

So, Do Nation is your second placement? What was your first?

My first placement was at RBS, I was the Programmes Manager for their Inspiring Social Enterprise Initiative, part of their CSR drive. That’s the great thing about On Purpose, you can have two very contrasting experiences within the space of a year.

Do you go to many alumni events?

I must admit I don’t go to many, which is a shame, I’d like to go to more. However, I do have a group of Cass alumni friends from my course that I regularly draw upon as my peer network for advice and ideas. In fact, at last Friday’s On Purpose training, we did an exercise looking at our own personal boardroom – the network of people that you go to for advice, expertise and support, and there are a couple of Cass alumni on that list!

What do you do in a typical week?

It can be quite varied, a mix of financial modelling, evaluating and measuring the social / environmental impact of programmes, meeting potential clients, making my own pledges, and perhaps even a spot of lunchtime ping-pong. And as a team, we tend to attend quite a lot of sustainable industry events after work. We’re quite a small team – only 6 – but we share our office space with other start-ups which makes for quite a fun office environment.

How can we get involved?

If anyone works at or knows an organisation that they think would like to run a Do Nation campaign, then we’d love to hear from them. Alternatively, if you’re planning a marathon, a mud run, or anything of the sort and are tired of asking your friends for money, you can create a Free Tier campaign and as them for pledges instead. In fact, a couple once used Do Nation as an alternative to a wedding gift list! Genius!

Finally, the quick fire question round:
Favourite place in London: I love the buzz of the Sunday upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane
Favourite holiday destination: I recently went on an eco-friendly yoga and surf camp in Portugal called Tipi Valley where there were solar-powered showers, and everything cooked was grown onsite.
Must-check every day website: My campaign page for my Cycle to COP21 to see how many pledges I’ve received, of course. I’m second on the leaderboard now! [Editor – this campaign is now finished, Riya finished second on the leaderboard]
Dream travel destination: I’ve wanted to go trekking in Manali for a long time (Himalayan foothills) – I’ve visited lots of India as it’s my heritage but this one’s still on the bucket list.
Cheese or chocolate? Well I’m marrying a Frenchman so I guess it’s got to be cheese!

Asylum and Refugees: A View from Greece

Arts and Social Sciences News.

MariaAs the refugee crisis continues to hit Europe, and Greece in particular, former asylum worker and Greek national Maria Repouskou (MA in Global Migration, 2012) talks about her experiences:

To say 2015 has been a big year for Greece would be an understatement. A collapsing economy combined with vast numbers of asylum seekers searching for an escape from war in the Middle East arriving on Greek soil has pushed the country to the brink.

Greece is in a difficult location geographically, situated where Asia ends and Europe begins, meaning that it’s often the favoured arrival point for many travelling into Europe seeking refuge or asylum. Recently, this has meant the country has been overwhelmed with people fleeing oppression who now remain in limbo. These people are both here, and not here, unsure of what tomorrow may bring.

It is undeniable that, although this is a very topical issue, it’s also a recurring issue in Greece, only now with the added security threat. This has turned up the heat on the cauldron of fear, crisis and response and has led to the number of people granted asylum plummeting, the population becoming more fractured, and policies ever more confused.

The question of human rights is now posed against the backdrop of the security of the country that accepts the asylum seekers, adding to the already challenging question of national cohesion. The Greek population was already polarized between those with compassion fatigue, and those who don’t see it as a question of immigrant numbers or border control, but one of simple help to fellow human beings. Recently, a great number of Greeks have been moved to be part of the humanitarian aid, but this response isn’t enough. What is really needed is policy change.

Currently, the immigration and asylum policies are designed in a way that means they actually perpetuate the very problems they are meant to be combatting, and the root cause of the issues are being completely ignored.

I understand there needs to be a balance between control over borders and security and the humanitarian response, but the current security measures mean that the asylum seekers are now seen as a threat the country needs protecting from, rather than as displaced peoples requiring protection.

The border controls seem to be targeting refugees as people to be got rid of or moved on, and migration specialists support these controls, which are ultimately doomed to fail. Not looking at the root cause of the issue, only means the migration routes will change, not end the refugee crisis.

Greece lacks a coherent immigration policy, an issue in itself, which is being exacerbated by current reforms happening in a reactive fashion, without any proper agenda-setting. This means that in the aftermath of the reforms, with more people continuing to flow in, and an already cumbersome bureaucratic system,these new measures are effectively deporting people as personae non grata. All whilst assimilation and integration, and the issues arising from such influxes, are being pushed further down the agenda across the EU.

With the situation growing ever-more hostile towards refugees, morality and respect for human dignity is on the decrease, and detention centres seem to be creating the same oppression that the asylum seekers were hoping to escape. At the same time, the media is exacerbating the hostility of the Greek population, by portraying the crisis in a solely negative light.

In downtown Athens, Victoria Square has become a camping space. If you happen to pass by you can see the recent arrivals, short on medical aid and living on a paltry diet, wondering what will happen to them now. If you were there, would you pass them by?

Grievous human rights violations, inhuman and degrading treatment, terrible facilities, racial violence and inertia is the perfect storm of the worst way we can treat these vulnerable people.

The policy makers must act fast to tackle this issue from the bottom up and guarantee a safe future for the Greeks, whilst working on co-operative and sustainable policies for immigration.

This will remind us why Greece was the country that lent the word asylon to the modern world.

Maria is one of our International Alumni Ambassadors for Greece. If you live outside the UK and are interested in being  an active member of our alumni community in your home country, please visit our website for more information on how to volunteer.

Fifty year association with City

Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News.
Students' Union booklet circa 1970 (Photo 1)

Students’ Union booklet circa 1970 (Photo 1)

Post by Dr Peter Harding

It is 50 years since my first association with City. This period coincidentally covers the time from its birth, or transformation, from Northampton College of Advanced Technology until now, when it is proposed to join the University of London. In these 50 years there has been considerable change.

A picture taken from the Students’ Union booklet circa 1970 (Photo 1) shows the view of the Thames looking east (Photo 2). Some two years ago I visited the Shard. I took a photo from a similar angle to the aerial shot. It shows the massive amount of building work that has taken place in the City and the Isle of Dogs (Photo 3).

London has been on a journey beyond anything that could be envisaged 50 years ago.





View of the Thames looking east circa 1970 (Photo 2)

View of the Thames looking east circa 1970 (Photo 2)

My first recollection of City

My first recollection of City was as Northampton College of Advanced Technology, knowing that within a few months it would become ‘The City University – TCU’. I arrived to interview  on a very cold day in December 1965. As I was early, I killed time walking around the local streets for the best part of an hour getting colder and colder. Finally I decided to enter the main building and found it beautifully warm, and wished I had the courage to enter earlier. I was taken to a part of the main building off St John’s Street, where I sat an exam. One of the questions was how you would plan a new road system to go through/around an existing town, as shown on a map. Probably nothing to do with electrical engineering but testing knowledge of systematic, thoughtful decision making! As part of the admission screening process I had already submitted an engineering/science report. I chose to write about the possibility of sending geostationary satellites into earth’s orbit. I am not sure that it was the type of answer that was expected but at least it showed that I was interested in technology. Interestingly, I later worked at the Rocket Propulsion Establishment designing an instrumentation system for testing static rocket motor firings, establishing my interest in the exciting area of rockets and satellite technology which was a hot topic in the 60’s and 70’s.

Recent view of the Thames from the Shard (Photo 3)

Recent view of the Thames from the Shard (Photo 3)

Confirmation of my place

I received confirmation of a place in January 1966, one of the first offers in my sixth form group. This indicated to me that a highly efficient administrative system was operating at the University. Concurrently with obtaining a university place I had to find an industrial sponsor for the six months work experience every year when I was not undertaking study. I settled on an offer from Eastern Electricity Board and found the training very diverse, giving me experience in many disciplines. I now realise that I had an exceptional opportunity including workshop training (where I was able to make a range of tools that I still use); work at a Power Station; manufacturers works in South Wales; planning and construction departments, commercial departments as well as working with engineers, linesmen and jointers and liaising with the public.



City of London map circa 1969 / 1970 (Photo 4)

City of London map circa 1969 / 1970 (Photo 4)


What my experience at City gave me

My experience at City gave me an education in the widest sense of the word. I not only finished my course but also appreciated the annual Gresham lectures; the chance to listen to the lunch time concerts given by the Guildhall School of Music and watch many of the shows based on NASA films about the Apollo space programme. I also became fascinated with the City of London and the student accommodation was ideally located on Bunhill Row,  which I was allocated to in my last year and so was able to explore the City at the weekends (Photo 4). The final year module on Management Studies at the Guildhall was a wonderful experience.



Peter Harding

Dr Peter Harding


50 years since

It has been fifty years since this first interest in the City and now, fifty years later, I have been able to walk around the City to discover again some of the interesting places and small passage ways and alleys that interconnect many of the streets and buildings.

As I have inferred, after working for the Eastern Electricity Board I worked at the Rocket Propulsion Establishment. Later on I moved into education and started lecturing at an FE College and also tutoring for The Open University. I then moved onto what is now known as Buckinghamshire New University. During my twenty five years at this establishment I was able to take part-time courses at City in MSc Engineering (1996) and then a PhD in Information Engineering (2007). My research gave me the opportunity to write academic papers which were published by the ICPR and my research student published by the IEEE and IEE.

I hope I have briefly shown that the changes and developments that have occurred for me have been in considerable part due to my experiences gained at the City.  I have gone from an undergraduate to an alumnus gained two additional degrees, both beyond my expectation some fifty years ago.

My advice to current students:

  1. Keep an open mind – don’t reject ideas out of hand as it is surprising where the next inspiration comes from
  2. Revert to first principle to solve or understand problems
  3. Theory and practice do agree it maybe is your model or measurements at fault
  4. Beware of excessive ‘hype’ as it can be detrimental to good science and engineering
  5. Appreciate the positive aspects of colleagues – shrink the negatives
  6. Understand how your company works and where power lies