Nationality: South African
Position pre MBA: Portfolio Manager, Leal & Sons
What factors made you decide to choose the Cass MBA over other programmes?
I’ve always been interested in pursuing my own business venture, so I wanted an MBA programme with a strong entrepreneurial focus. Plus, I’m from South Africa originally, so when I moved over to London, building up my network again was a big priority for me.
The strong entrepreneurial and networking focus at Cass Business School was what made me decide to study my MBA there. The cohort was full of people from such diverse backgrounds. It was a decision that paid off.
What were your career goals?
Just before I joined the MBA, someone had mentioned a problem they were having with pet insurance. I researched the industry and saw a lack of innovation. I realised that there was potential for shaking up the market. From the first day of the course, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.
I began developing the idea with a colleague I met on the MBA, Ed Grimston, who had been in insurance for seven years. The two of us set out to research the industry further and develop a solution.
Cass offers valuable assistance for entrepreneurs, including a business mentor, who looked at our business idea and gave us guidance on how to formulate it into a more coherent plan.
We also reached out to Cass alumni and Ed’s network from the insurance world. They helped us build our pricing model and provided general advice on the regulations.
How would you describe your overall experience of the MBA?
As well as the fantastic networking opportunities, the MBA certainly broadens your horizons. The international electives were a personal highlight for me. They enable you to develop a very holistic view of what's going on in the current global market. I gained some consulting experience in Iceland. I also went to San Francisco to explore Silicon Valley, which gave me a great sense of what true entrepreneurialism looks like. Finally, I got to visit China. I was fascinated by its rising economy, so it was great to experience it first hand and get a feel for the place.
You learn a lot of soft skills from Cass. The great thing about the professional development skills training is that it keeps you up to date with current practices. I came from a sales background in negotiations, so the negotiation training gave me a great insight into current developments.
The MBA at Cass has given me solid foundation, and helped me build the knowledge and confidence to pursue my goals. My expectations were met – I built up a great network and developed my entrepreneurial skills. In fact, we set-up and launched Wagel, our pet insurance business, immediately after finishing the full-time MBA programme. It’s gaining good traction already. Everything I set out to do when I joined Cass, the MBA has helped me achieve.