Talent Meets Bertelsmann 2015

At the end of June, I went through a truly exciting opportunity: taking part in Talent Meets Bertelsmann 2015, a 3-day conference with the media conglomerate based in Berlin. I heard about TMB through my career consultant at Judge (thanks Camila!) and it seemed to be simply perfect. Three days of meeting people in media and discussing both creative and business issues facing the industry today and in the future? Sign me up! During TMB, about 50 students from around the world had the chance to learn a lot about some of Bertelsmann’s businesses, including RTL, Penguin Random House, Arvato, Be Printers, Gruner & Jahr and the overall Corporate organization.

On Day 2, we took part in a case competition in teams of 7 or 8. This was my second competition of the year, after the Hult Prize. Our task? Solve a business case facing one of Bertelsmann’s operations and present a 10-minute pitch to members of the executive board, including CEO Dr. Thomas Rabe (and also the CEOs of several of the business we were presenting on). Talk. About. Pressure. I was a member of Team Corporate and have team members from Germany, Togo, the States, Vietnam and other countries. All of the teams worked tirelessely for 6 hours developing financial models, business plans, marketing schemes and other pieces of information for the final presentation. Fellow Judge Business School colleague David Pepper was on team Be Printers (read about his experience here) and his team, along with all the others, presented exceptionally well, especially given the fact that we were face-to-face with some of the biggest executives in the media industry. Once the case competition ended, it was time to celebrate and Bertelsmann ensured we had a wonderful time seeing the city of Berlin through a party at Neue Heimat, complete with a show featuring Jonathan Jeremiah who is signed by BMG (and is amazing)! It was a beautiful night, to say the least. The best part? Team Corporate won 1st place! Being a part of the winning TMB team has been a huge highlight of my MBA experience. Going through the experience solidified many of the learnings I’ve gathered over the past year. Not only was I able to help create the financial model for my team, I also served as the “project manager” for the day, primarily making sure that our team stayed on task and on on time. I worked with a team of phenomenal students who have already accomplished so much and were completely committed to our case. From an Oxford Master’s student to an undergraduate entrepeneur at IE in Madrid to a young German who is a VP of one of the largest student-run non-profits in Europe, my team members (and everyone else at TMB), came with experience, drive and passion. We went into the day vowing to come up with a product that would be impressive and eventually useful to our TMB coaches and in the end, our teamwork and energy completely paid off.

Talent Meets Bertelsmann was also a great experience in terms of meeting people. Bertlemsann invites many of its employees from across all of its businesses to attend TMB, and everyone was excited to meet and build with the students there. I was able to pitch Meraki to several members of the corporate team and employees from BMG and was thrilled with the feedback I received. I really couldn’t ask for anything more – but in true MBA fashion, there is always more. The prize for the winning TMB15 team is an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to meet with Penguin Random House over a period of 4 days! Yes, you read right – I get to go home! I couldn’t be happier; not only did I get the chance to prove that I can crack cases, I get to see my family and friends as a direct result (and be a tour-guide for my team!).

I speak more on the specifics of TMB and the music/media industry in general with Conrad Chua, Head of Admissions and Careers at Judge Business School. If you’re interested in the conversation, take a listen to the podcast below! As always, thanks for reading🙂

Culture and Arts and Media – OH MY!

Right. So I’m pretty much at the end of the MBA now (but more on that later). As the days go by, I see my classmates either moving away to new jobs and new places, or settling into Cambridge where they will be taking on exciting new ventures (mostly entrepreneurial ones). It’s time to face it, the Class of 2014 is moving out, and now the Class of 2015 is gearing up to take over. It’s all incredibly exciting and sad. In anticipation of the new class, I wanted to write a post about one of the best things I got out of this MBA experience – the Culture, Arts and Media Management Concentration (CAMM).

The fact that Cambridge offers a wide set of concentrations (and really, the fact that CAMM was one of them), was one of the driving factors in choosing to attend Judge. Because we don’t start our concentrations until Easter term, I knew I could always switch at the last minute (likely to Global Business). As the year progressed, I realized how committed I was to this career switch and as I met the faculty involved with the CAMM concentration, it became clear I would be making a huge mistake if I didn’t follow through with my plans. Jeremy, one of the concentration coaches, was my faculty advisor during the Cambridge Venture Project (where my team worked with a video on demand start up specializing in foreign films). Jeremy was wonderful to work with – extremely helpful and always made time for us even though he is ridiculously busy making sure the children of England have access to all sorts of arts programs. By total coincidence, the other CAMM coach was the faculty advisor for my Global Consulting Project🙂 Becky is a strategy specialist who focuses on the arts – she’s worked with museums and other art institutions around the world solving all sorts of business issues and she’s also a Judge alum! Knowing Jeremy and Becky ahead of the official start of CAMM only made me more keen to join. Everything I thought I knew about them only manifested as the term went on. They were 150% committed to making sure we got the most out of lectures, our Captstone Projects (that might need a whole new post!), our coach nights and trips. They planned every detail to the letter while still giving us some choice in how we wanted to further tailor the CAMM experience. Our coaches made CAMM exciting, challenging, engaging and a whole lot of fun. Love them!

So, jumping into the concentration itself….where do I BEGIN? I guess I’ll just say that with many of the concentrations at Judge, there is a decent amount of overlap with the required electives you must take, which is great because I never felt pigeon-holded. For CAMM, there’s only one mandatory course – Special Topics in Culture, Arts and Media and this was one of my favorite courses of the entire year. Every class, we prepared a case study, that was recent and relevent, surrounding an art institution. The firms varied from local museums to global media companies to historic concert halls. Every week, one team presented and cracked the case. But they didn’t just present to the class – every week, we had a representative from that firm come to class to listen to these presentations. Our visitors were always members of the executive board and it was amazing to watch them listen – really listen – to what my classmates were recommending for their businesses. They always asked the really tough questions afterwards, a sign that they were legitimately interested and might even take their notes back to the board. It was an amazing experience to basically see a mini-project brought to life once a week. Our coaches also planned wonderful trips for us throughout the term. We were able to visit the Bold Tendencies art gallery in Peckham (complete with a  meet and greet with the founder!) and see a screening of Man and Superman through the National Theatre Live experience. I can’t forget about our coach night with Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. When would I ever get a chance to talk about the performing arts industry in both New York and London with a man who has quite literally seen it all? There were other coach nights and panels with industry experts and potential employers, all of which left the entire group with more knowledge and a wider network than I started with. This MBA would not have been the same with CAMM – the students who took the concentration with me, our phenomenal coaches, the executives who listened to our presentations and the trips both in and outside of Cambridge truly made for a holistic experience that exceeded my expectations. I think all of the concentrations are wonderful, but if you have even an inkling of a passion for the arts and more importantly, the business of the arts, then there’s no question. CAMM is the one.

My First Career Post

Hi everyone! I’m realizing that everytime I write, I’m apologizing for how long it’s been, so I’ll skip that part today🙂 As usual, time has been flying and I can’t believing I’m reaching the end of the Cambridge MBA (it’s scary and makes me a bit sad to be honest), but as a class we have been making the most of our last few weeks together. FOMO kicked up, there have literally been events pretty much every day for the past 2 weeks (in addition to classes, projects, etc). We all survived May Week (more on that later) and now some of my classmates have already left for various parts of the world for internships, full time jobs and projects >_<

As for me, I started seriously mapping out my career search in April. Figuring out what exactly I want to do post-MBA (because very few people come in actually knowing), what type of companies I would like to work for, and how to go about getting in touch with those companies. For those who don’t know, part of the reason I chose to get an MBA (and one in Europe) is because I want to make a career and location switch from finance in New York to music/media abroad. It’s a tough sell….how does a finance person turn into a music/media professional? That’s been the main challenge, figuring out how to tell my story and prove to companies that I have the knowledge and experience required to fit into their business. It’s a constantly evolving story, but my experience in founding an online content creating platform for African entertainment and being an artist has been crucial in presenting (and believing in) my narrative.

So, how is the job search actually going? To put it frankly, it’s a work in progress. Music/media is a lot different from the industries some MBAs typically reach for (finance & consulting); there usually isn’t a formal recruiting process. I’ve spent A LOT of time this year just meeting people from all over Europe, specifically in London. Attending events, visiting offices, staying in touch and sending some blind emails has proved to be really fruitful. There have been times where I don’t get a response or the conversation is short (but sweet), but for the most part, I’ve built a pretty solid network of music and media professionals. I started interviewing last week and will hopefully hear some good news soon. If not, that’s okay, on to the next few people in the network🙂

This summer I’ll be based in Cambridge, working on a project with Twitter (so pumped for that, anyone who knows me knows that I LIVE LIVE LIVE for Twitter). That will go on until about mid-August and fingers crossed that I’ll have an offer by September in Europe. I think if I don’t have something by September, I will head back to New York and start the job search intensely stateside. As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned – I have more posts coming soooon (this time I promise for real)!! Few random pictures below🙂

Happy 25th Anniversary to Cambridge Judge Business School!
Back on the performance wagon! Performing at the Snug Bar in Cambridge
As part of my concentration, I helped put together an art exhibition for an amazing internationally known artist ^_^

Guest Post! Business in Africa Conference

This post was written by one of my amazing classmates, Richard Evans from South Africa. We both serve on this year’s Cambridge Africa Business Network Steering Committee and just finished the 4th Annual Business in Africa Conference. Thanks for being a part of FromHarlem2Cambridge Rich!


Judge Business School hosted the Cambridge Business in Africa conference on Saturday the 6th of June. The theme revolved around sustainability in uncertain times, and presented an opportunity to make meaningful connections at a key period of African economic growth. This event is in its fourth year, and is presented by the Cambridge African Business Network (CABN), of which I am a proud steering committee member.

Of particular interest to me was the panel on energy, infrastructure, and urban development. Afua Osei (Cambridge Executive Education) expertly moderated a panel consisting of Devakumar Edwin (Group Executive Director, Dangote Group), David Lashbrook (Head of Africa Investment Strategies, Momentum), and Ademola Adeyemi-Bero (CEO, First Exploration & Petroleum). Having read the IMF’s working paper on the translation of mineral and energy resources into improving living conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Simon Taylor’s review of said paper, it was encouraging to hear the panel echoing similar sentiments. Discussion focused on the involvement and role of government and the private sector in ensuring the effective use of resources for the prosperity of the nations involved. The panel consistently mentioned the inability of government to give the necessary attention to the long term planning required for sustainable development. While no representative from government was present to balance the debate, indications are that governments currently lack the skills required to work for change (see article). High uncertainty relating to the stability of government, even in the developed world, for periods long enough to support infrastructure investments is a very real challenge to Africa’s development.

Time constraints meant that the panel was unable to reach a concrete solution, however, that was never the intention. The Conference provided a platform for some of Africa’s most influential business-people to interact, and to discuss the issues critical to the continent’s future. Our hope as the CABN, is that these ideas are transformed into discussions, and from these discussions, strategies emerge that will translate into action.  As Africans, we are well aware of the challenges and opportunities that we face. The more we are able to converse as business leaders, the more we will be able to influence those that drive policy.

I would like to personally thank all of the attendees, especially the speakers, for contributing to an excellent event. It is my hope that they will return to their roles re-invigorated, and ready to seize the opportunities to create a sustainable African future.

Checking in + Global Consulting Project!

Checking in via video today and showing you guys my daily commute to Judge Business School. For the record – I made it to class on time! Also adding some pictures from GCP & Thailand after the video🙂



Competing in the Hult Prize

Hi everyone! So one thing that I think might be universal across MBA programs around the world is competitions. With an “s.” These are usually (but not always) case-based, and I really didn’t see the appeal when I arrived at Cambridge. I was already so overwhelmed with class work and meeting people, competitions seemed like extra and unnecessary work. But (blame FOMO), the Hult Prize peaked my interest and I spent last weekend in London competiting in the regional finals alongside 53 other teams in London and over 300 worldwide (in Shanghai, Dubai, San Francisco and Boston).

What’s the Hult Prize, you ask? “The Hult Prize Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to launching the world’s next wave of social entrepreneurs. It encourages the world’s brightest business minds to compete in teams to solve the planet’s biggest challenges with innovative ideas for sustainable start-up enterprises. Annual Hult Prize winners can make their ideas reality with the help of USD1 million in seed funding.” (from their website)

This year’s challenge wanted teams to come up with enterprising ideas that will reduce the education gap for children ages 0-6 in urban slums. My team, made of up 3 MBAs and a Master of Entrepreneursip student who’s also at Judge Business School, came together and racked our brains. How can we reach 10 million children in 5 years, in an effective way, with $1 million? It seemed impossible, but us, alongside all of the other teams, found a variety of solutions. These ranged from training programs, to educational toys,to tech-based products and community based programming.

I was really lucky to work with some amazing individuals. Daniel has already worked in slums across South America and has written specifically about Early Childhood Education. He was the passion in our group. When we had an idea, Daniel would ask how we could push it further. Juliette  is an entrepreneur and a very talented equestrian who is currently starting her own business in the States. She was an idea generator in our group  and her entrepreneurial spirit allowed us to think outside the box. Way outside the box. Ishaq is the one who brought the team together in the first place and he was also the numbers guy (I helped with that part….a little). Ishaq was another idea generator and without him, none of us would have thought to even apply. And me? I like to think I was a driver in the group, keeping us focused on the task and ensuring there were no potential holes in our pitch….but I’ll let the group have the final word on that haha. This was another great group that I’ve worked with at Cambridge. They each taught me something that I’ll take with me long after the MBA is over.

The weekend was pretty packed. There was networking and fun both before and after the actual pitching. On pitch day, every team was involved throughout the day as we sat on peer panels while other teams presented. After all the pitches, the judges picked 6 teams to present in front of everyone and from those 6 the London regional winner was selected. Unfortunately, it wasn’t us, but the team that did win (Oxford!) had an excellent presentation and an innovative idea. All in all, it was a really good experience. I met some very interesting people and it was my first time pitching an original idea that isn’t a poem or a song. I think part of the reason I stayed away from competitions was because of the intimidation factor. It’s not easy to present something from scratch to a panel of strangers whose job is to essentially rip your idea apart. However, the Hult Prize also showed me that my team put together a really good product that has the potential to shift the way that children who may not have access to quality education learn during their formative years. The other teams we spoke to thought it was a great idea and some even gave us advice on how to improve upon it. I’m hoping that my team sticks with this and sees how far we can take our idea🙂

Anyway, I think the Hult Prize may have opened a door. I don’t know about case competitions, but I’m definitely more open to social enterprise competitions, applying to accelorators and again, this has scratched that entrepreneurial itch that I’ve had since I stepped foot into this town.

Team KidBridge ready to represent Cambridge JBS!
Team KidBridge ready to represent Cambridge JBS!
The better half :-D
The better half😀
We didn't win but still had a great time at the Hult Prize!
We didn’t win but still had a great time at the Hult Prize!

Aiducation Talent Show!


Cambridge Judge Business School is putting on a talent show next Thursday, March 5th at 8pm. The show is a fundraiser for Aiducation, a for-impact organization that provides scholarships for students in Kenya and the Philippines so they can complete their secondary education. We have students AND faculty in the MBA and MPhil programs at Judge who will be singing, dancing, reading poetry, performing magic and other acts. It promises to be a good time annnnnd I will be performing! It’s my first performance in Cambridge which is a little unexpected (I didn’t think it would take this long) but nonetheless, a good time will be had by all for a great cause! If you’re in the area, buy a ticket and come on out ^_^


Taking on a one-year MBA