Enterprise: Who we are

Are you interested in starting your own business, developing an existing idea or networking with other aspiring and established entrepreneurs?

Do you want to develop your employability skills?

The Enterprise team can help you achieve these goals whether you want to start a business or learn more about the process itself. If you have a creative idea or an existing business that you want to expand, we can provide you with the funding, mentoring and skills that you need to succeed.

We provide seed funding, an incubator programme, mentoring, enterprise boot camps, specialist workshops, free stalls at markets both on and off campus, pitching events and talks from local entrepreneurs. To sign up to any of our events, see our events calendar.

InQUBEate is Queen Mary’s 8 week start-up incubator programme, which has places for students to join in Semesters 1 and 2.  During the programme you will have weekly meetings with mentors from a range of industries, receive training on a range of topics including marketing and legal issues, meet like-minded students to share your ideas with, and pitch for funding to a panel of judges.

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Our QMentoring Success Story – The End of the Road

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Sandeep Saib, QMentor (pictured right)

During the six month mentoring process, both my mentee, Iqra Bari, and I have had a fantastic journey, which has indeed gone by so quick! I would only love to have more meet-ups and continue this relationship for years to come, come rain or shine!

Overall, my main motive for undertaking and participating in my University’s mentoring scheme is to give something back and teach the QMUL students that there is definitely more to life than just education, it is you and your life. However, to really know yourself and understand your needs and requirements, mentoring provides that necessary reflective time and space to work on yourself as much as possible, to be listened to and respected, and for that to be reciprocated.

It was also great going back to my educational roots, reminiscing of the good times at QMUL, and lovely hearing and learning from current students. Therefore, it was key for me to listen to Iqra and the meeting was really all about her needs, goals and aspirations in life, and how I can do anything in my power to help and support her and be there for her.

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Student story: My QMentoring experience

iqraEarlier this year, we featured a guest blog from Sandeep Saib, who is part of our QMentoring programme. This week we hear from Sandeep’s mentee Iqra and what she has learnt from the experience.

When I started my first year of University, I realised that the next few years were crucial in building my skill set, knowledge, and experience in order to succeed in the field of work upon graduating. Coming from an unskilled family background, and attending a struggling state school, meant that I had very little insight or training for my future profession as a solicitor. Although I knew what steps I needed to take to reach my goal, I lacked the confidence to get there, as I knew that succeeding in the world of work was more than just academia, and involved a great degree of being able to give more through my personality and experiences.

Upon leaving Sixth Form and becoming independent, I knew that I needed to gain some experience and guidance on specifically building my professional character through my CV, interviews, networking, persona, and work experience, which would set me apart in the job market. Hence why I got involved in the QMentoring Scheme and was paired with my mentor, Sandeep Saib, who works in a Law firm.

In our initial meetings, we discussed my career goals and Sandeep advised me how to gain work experience by guiding me through the process of writing to a company, or a professional, and doing well in application processes. One of the first things we focused on were video interviews in which Sandeep helped me prepare for an interview with a Law firm. This really helped me understand more about interviews and the recruitment process – one of the main lessons I learnt was how to sell myself to an employer by targeting what I could specifically bring to their organisation. This has certainly stayed with me and helped me succeed in interviews for other ventures and projects, not limited to just the legal industry.

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PwC’s Diversity Mentoring Scheme

PwC’s Diversity Mentoring Scheme has been running since 2013 to help people from under-represented backgrounds build long term valuable relationships with PwC staff.

The scheme matches PwC mentors with university students or graduates who are interested in a career in Professional Services, but do not have the network or relationships needed to know what to expect from the job or the application process.

What’s in it for mentees?

You will be provided with a mentor who is essentially a ‘trusted adviser or guide’ who has useful experience that he/she can share with someone less experienced and skilled in a particular area. The mentor is not responsible for solving your problems or making your decisions. The mentor cannot get you the job!

What can you use mentors for?

• Insight into working life at PwC
• Guidance on the application process
• Insight into the skills needed to be successful
• Suggestions on how to develop these skills
• Potential work shadowing opportunities

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Meet the Mentor: Suneet

In 2015 – 2016, the enterprise programme has had over 25 mentors attend various events, workshops and boot camps.  These mentors have a variety of different backgrounds and have expertise in various industries. The mentors will support the students in developing their business ideas.  If you know of anyone who would like to mentor on our programme – please get in touch! enterprise@qmul.ac.uk

ENTERPRISE MENTOR: Suneet Shivaprasad

Suneet

What is your background and experience?
I decided to set up my first company 7 years ago and over the years I have grown many companies as well as running my own in various sectors.  With 7 years + experience in building and growing companies across many sectors, I look for the simplest and most cost effective methods of growth.

I am comfortable with the usual KPIs associated with marketing and I look to identify the key metric(s) that will generate the greatest influence on the long term success of the company.

I am able to make use of large data sets and routinely set up A/B and multivariate tests in looking at ways of increasing effectiveness across the customer journey.

Why did you decide to become a mentor with Queen Mary University and what has your involvement been?
I was introduced to Rachel Brown and the programme sounded exciting. I have mentored on 3DS and InQUBEate.

What’s it like to mentor a student?
Enjoyable to see their progress as an idea or the beginnings of a company become more concrete.

Have you had a favourite experience during your mentoring at QM?
Seeing the students keep on growing their company strongly after InQUBEate has finished.

Have you got any tips for students that are thinking about starting up a business with the support of Queen Mary University Enterprise? 
Keep on working hard in the face of adversity. Someone who has experience of the sector or running a start-up can help you avoid mistakes and steer you in the right direction. Then your success will be more often than not defined by a consistent work ethic.

Student blog: Emma Black, PASS Student Organiser

Emma Black has just completed her final year studying Biology, and has been a Student Organiser for the PASS scheme in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. Here, she tells us more about what’s involved and how it can add valuable skills to your CV.

PASS (Peer Assisted Study Support) is a voluntary, student-led peer-mentoring scheme that operates across the university. It’s aimed mainly at first-year students as they settle in but, in many subjects, students in all years can join the informal weekly sessions to get academic and non-academic advice. In my School, SBCS, topics have ranged from how best to remember the common amino acids and their structures to which academic society provides free guest speaker lectures.

These sessions provide useful advice from students who most likely have gone through similar problems. It can be daunting to ask lecturers for help. You may not want to seem as if you aren’t coping with the course or don’t understand lecture content. In addition, some lecturers may appear inaccessible until students understand the system, so PASS can be the next step for students to get support.

Sessions take place in various forms – group discussions or one-to-one help with a mentor. It’s a great way for students to meet peers from other years, network and form new friendship groups. It’s a fantastic scheme for students to be a part of as they gain many new skills. As a mentor you will learn how to set-up group discussions, work in a team and develop your interpersonal skills.

emma squareThese are great skills to add to your CV and can improve your chances of employability after graduation. It can also lead to other skill-enhancing opportunities. As a student organiser (team leader), I was given the opportunity to give a short presentation at the Staff Student Services Day. I introduced the scheme to staff in the hope to increase awareness across the university. This was a daunting, yet exhilarating experience for myself, as I had never before presented to so many people in one room before. However, I am proud of myself for having done it and have increased confidence. Having good presentation skills is important for whichever career you find yourself in.

If you’re interested in getting involved, go to the contact list on the PASS webpage:  www.qmul.ac.uk/pass. The more students we have, the more support can be given. It is a very flexible role that you can fit around your studies and in most Schools, mentors only have to attend a minimum of five weekly sessions in a semester. It is a very rewarding scheme to be a part of and good to contribute to your School.

Emma Black

SBCS PASS Student Organiser, 2015-16

Paid roles that help develop your career

We recently posted about paid roles helping deliver ‘The National Citizen Service’ the UK based version of the International Citizen Service (blogged about regularly on these pages).  While the National programme itself is for 16 and 17 year olds there are PAID opportunities available in the summer of 2015 to help deliver the UK programme.  This could be working as a mentor, running workshops on different areas of expertise or helping at outward bound projects. 

The Challenge Network are looking for 3,500 paid staff to work on the programme. This is a fantastic opportunity to work in a growing, vibrant organisation, alongside groups of young people, motivating and leading them to strengthen their communities. It would provide valuable and tangible hands on experience to anyone interested in a career in policy, charities, NGOs, social enterprise or government.

Applications are now open so please be sure to check out their website and JobOnline and apply ASAP.

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We spoke to one of our colleagues in Queen Mary’s Careers & Enterprise Centre, Lucy Smith who worked as a senior mentor with The Challenge Network in the summer before joining us as an event manager.

Lucy, what was the senior mentor work?  The government is funding a programme called National Citizen Service aimed at encouraging 16 / 17 year olds to engage in social action projects.  It ticks lots of boxes about community cohesion and getting young people engaged.  The project also includes funding for people like university students to get paid work helping the groups of young people create and deliver the social action projects.

What do the projects consist of?  Senior Mentors will be engaged over a period of around three months.  An induction weekend where we get trained as team leaders; two 5 day residential periods with the young people that combines team bonding through fun outward bound type activities and classroom work covering topics like ‘community engagement’, ‘social action’ and confidence building.  By the end of these residential periods the groups should have clarity about what they want the project to deliver and the rest of time is working with them in the community ensuring they deliver the project.

Why did you do it?  Well I had just finished my degree at St Andrews and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. The project was a good way of doing something constructive, get paid for it and establish myself back in London.  In the end it was much more than that in many ways.

Running classes sounds like it might be challenging. What was your experience of it?  A lot of the lessons are already pre-written and you have all the material you need.  Sure you have to be able to get on with young people but really getting them to talk about what they like and dislike about their communities isn’t that difficult. Getting them to be inspired to create a project is a challenge but again it wasn’t that difficult.

What did your group decide to do? Well I, and they, wanted something that would make a difference and be exciting to do (our target group was very young children in the community.)  We wanted to raise over a £1000 that would be donated for a disabled children’s charity operating in our local community.  The exciting part was we decided to raise the money with a sponsored row down the river Thames.  Like many of the outward bound things in the residential weekend though we had professional support.  The adventure group we hired were really safety conscious but, at the same time, it really felt like an adventure in a way that doing a cake bake sale wouldn’t have been.  On the day itself we had loads of press in attendance and were blessed with great weather.  It was certainly something the young people will remember.  In fact the project as a whole has been recognised as one of the top three projects in the country

What was challenging about being involved? Well during the period after the residential you don’t have a particular base but this is the time when the students have to get into action.  So it was a lot of work getting them together and keeping them on track and inspired to ensure they delivered the project.  Ideally you are trying to ensure they take on the responsibility for the project but in reality as a team leader I was taking a lot of the responsibility – I was ambitious for the project myself really.

What did you get out of it?  Well in the end the project itself was great and we had a terrific day on the Thames.  I was also aware that I had a really constructive summer that added to my CV.  I can imagine that hanging around being an unemployed graduate wouldn’t have done my confidence much good.  Instead of which it confirmed for me that I had good organisation skills, could project manage, be good with money and get acknowledged for it.  One thing that took me a little by surprise is that I found I could inspire people.  I would really recommend to any graduate who isn’t sure of their next step, to join the NCS movement for the summer. It was a brilliant experience and prepared me for my next career move.