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I’ve always loved working with inspiring people on new challenges. Prior to Sloan, my career focused on product innovation roles with mid-sized companies.
Whilst it’s relatively easy to be a leader in that kind of environment, there are limited opportunities to learn from others. When the company I was working for was involved in a takeover, I decided the time was right for a change. I really wanted to catch up with the latest technology, research and management techniques − business school was an obvious choice.
Sloan was a perfect fit for me and taught me a totally new way of thinking. It was also a chance to find out if I was suited to something more entrepreneurial − it’s all very well to take on the technical side of things, but very different to have full responsibility for starting and managing a new company. I took the Entrepreneurship Summer School elective, a fantastic experience which involved everything from conducting research outside Selfridges, asking people their opinions on products and services through to generating new ideas and formulating business plans.
At the beginning of the programme I was very focused on inventing something; now I see entrepreneurship in a much broader context that centres on value for the customer and for the company. I’m using what I learned to develop a luxury coffee cup start-up called Deviehl, working with a Sloan classmate. It sounds obvious, but entrepreneurial success is all about people. Even if you have a great idea and a lot of money, it won’t work without the right team. One of the success factors with Deviehl is that my colleague Jonathan and I are like-minded; we share the same passions and so far we’ve managed to get through any challenges in a very respectful and friendly way. Our skillsets are complimentary − Jonathan has a great knowledge of the luxury market whilst I have a good feel for technical innovation and how to sell and promote things online. We are hugely ambitious to make it with our business.
London is a brilliant place to start, but the School network and the backing of the brand means doors have opened more easily than they otherwise might.
Even so, dealing in the luxury arena means we have to be very careful about how we treat people and the materials we use. Everything today is about pricing, but I believe the time is right to return to longer-lasting, handcrafted goods – products that are produced to order rather than being made to sit on shelves and be thrown away. This will inevitably use resources in a much more responsible way and Deviehl fits this model.
Sloan is a programme for senior executives with courage and with goals to achieve.
At Deviehl we are trying to build an environment where everybody has more responsibility and more fun. Success will depend on how I manage people and my ability to take them on the journey. I learned a great deal about leadership and motivating people on Sloan, and I believe these skills will be invaluable to me as the business grows.