Role and company:
CEO and founder of MBA & Company
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
We provide businesses with instant access to low-cost, high-end advisory and research work, through a network of freelance consultants that all have an MBA, MSC or PhD and at least five years’ experience. Each piece of work is delivered by a professional with proven expertise in the required domain.
What’s the big vision for your business?
We expect to become the world’s largest marketplace for highly skilled professionals with a focus on strategic research and analysis. Our value proposition – the brightest talent on-demand at the best price – is already globally appreciated and, as such, the more we can spread the word and break down the traditional barriers to using remote professionals the more we can help our clients, which include small and micro businesses, to grow.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
We are looking to expand geographically and build a physical presence in the United States. Last year we became one of two businesses in the UK, and 12 outside America, to be selected by Mayor Bloomberg as a New York City Venture Fellow, enabling us to start building our profile in the United States. We now have a New York office that is serving U.S. clients.
We’ve also just secured £800,000 funding, and £500,000 of that came through the MMC London Fund, affectionately dubbed the “Boris Fund”. That makes us one of a few businesses in the world to have the backing of two Mayors from both the world’s commercial hubs.
Our platform continues to expand, and this year we will complete projects in more than 50 countries.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
In my second job after leaving university, I had a terrible manager who was a real ogre. She destroyed what had been a high performing team with a great dynamic. Eventually, I made the decision to leave far earlier than I had planned. It was a worry, because I was leaving a good position at a market leading company and changing jobs early in your career can weaken your CV. This turned out not to be a big deal, but it was a big concern at the time.
The experience taught me how to manage people by learning how not to manage people – and how quickly credibility and relationships can be destroyed. It’s the reason why we now have such a strong focus on customer service and delivery for MBA & Company.
What makes you mad in business today?
A person’s inability to deliver what’s expected of them after making agreement. It’s incredibly frustrating and wastes everyone’s time.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
Employment regulation will need to go under a significant change to make it easier for businesses, large and small, to engage with individuals without hesitancy and excessive paperwork.
Technology will also be a huge driver for change in this market as remote working tools and collaboration packages continue to make it easier for companies to access the professionals they need, including those overseas, without any hassle.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?
Yes. We’re proof of that. It helps that our model taps into a macro trend that investors can see. Companies are increasingly adapting their hiring styles to a leaner and more agile system.
How would others describe your leadership style?
Supportive, open and decisive.
Your biggest personal extravagance?
My MBA at IESE. It was an expensive dose of self-development, but highly worthwhile. No regrets!
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:
Reduce National Insurance costs for businesses with fewer than 50 employees by at least half and loosen legislation regarding employment to provide greater flexibility to the employer. Also, Mr Cameron, you must insist banks which have access to government funding conduct greater due diligence on the business plans they evaluate but exercise far kinder personal guarantee requirements for entrepreneurs.
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