I graduated from the Full-time MBA in 2008, it has been a crazy 12 years since studying. I spent 8 years working for Cisco and I have lived in countries all over the world, from Singapore to San Francisco.
In 2016, I left Cisco and started my own business working with early stage start-ups, moving back to London in 2017 to join Episode 1, one of the UK’s leading early stage funds. In 2019, I joined bp Launchpad to help address a new energy future. My role is Operating Partner at bp Launchpad, where we’re building a new energy future by investing in and scaling companies that will impact the shape of the world. I spend my days scanning to see what is happening in the world with regards to the path to net zero, understanding what digital companies, start-ups and scale ups are doing to address that, and then deciding which ones to invest in. There are two parts to the role: investments and scaling. We have a portfolio of 5 companies and will grow to a total of 10-15 companies by the end of 2022. I sit as Director on these company boards and chair some of them, helping the companies to grow, working with and coaching CEOs and leadership teams as they deliver on ambitious growth plans.
Favourite memories while studying the MBA
While I was studying my MBA in 2007, the first iPhone launched. The iPhone changed the world in terms of digital, computing and consumerisation. I was lucky enough to be studying my MBA at the heart of this conversation. Our class had a lot of discussions on how the iPhone was going to fundamentally change the business landscape. It was so exciting, having conversations with 100 other like-minded people about how a product was going to change the world forever.
On the second stand out memory, I recall Professor Peter Naude telling us that the MBA is about teaching us to take in all the analysis and come to a decision about what a business should do. You should look across the macro and micro economic environment, financial and enterprise values, business strategy and customers and articulate what a particular company should do in the context of all of this. I remember Pete telling me once that I was waffling in my presentation; that I needed to take a breath for a few seconds and just think. Once I did this, what I said was so much more articulate and this holds true for me today, take a breath and consider what you’re saying very carefully. I believe this was a defining moment for me on the MBA. In any role I’ve been in subsequently, this lesson has allowed me to take complexity and make it a lot more straightforward, just by simply stepping back and really thinking.
My connection with Manchester
I studied both my MBA and my Undergraduate degree in Manchester, so the university, business school and city are all very important to me. I love the history of Manchester and everything it stands for: its rebellious nature, the suffragette movement, indie music and two of the biggest football teams. Manchester gives me a freedom to think and challenge, it is a home to build conversations. I believe that the people that come to AMBS are amazing and I want to support these people and give back to the School and University that gave me so much, so I do this through the alumni network and through donations to support underrepresented groups.
My advice to those graduating in this financially challenging time
I believe that in every crisis, real founders and entrepreneurs see opportunity. There is such disruption in the world right now, that it creates opportunities for something new that hasn’t been thought of before. I would tell someone to look at alternatives and non-obvious things. I think they will discover and create new roles, ideas and businesses for the future. Your frame of mind has to be positive: take on the world with the attitude of “wow” and look what you can create.
Skills I learnt on the MBA and still use today
Critical thinking, financial skills and engagement in positive conflict and difficult conversations. The MBA is designed to throw groups of people together who have conflicting personalities to see what happens, and to teach you how to engage with people who have a different way of working and seeing the world. When I am investing in businesses with different points of view, I bring different opinions into a room and I am able to make an informed decision respecting all of them.
The Founder Handbook
At the start of lockdown in 2020, I decided to write a book with a CEO/Founder that I’d worked with. We developed a business development framework based on lessons learnt when working together. The book sets out how to get to your first 10 enterprise customers, especially for B2B software. It could be considered a niche topic and yet the business development framework can be applied across a number of sectors. The book launched in March on Amazon “Founders Handbook, how to get to your first 10 enterprise customers.”