‘We are really excited about fostering interdisciplinary connections and conversations amongst people at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey,’ says Jonathan McBride of the Class of 2020 Entrepreneurship Special Interest Group.  

Coming to Cambridge being part of a Special Interest Group or SIG is part of the attraction and here we look at the passions and impact of this year’s cohort through their groups and sectors.  

‘All SIG members have an opportunity to propose and organise events around their specific area of interest. This provides not only a chance to tailor the agenda to fit the interest of its members, but also to give the members an opportunity to gain experience in taking the lead and developing ideas which will be exciting for others to learn from,’ Martti Palosuo on leading the Fintech SIG for Class of 2020.  

‘I stood up for this role as I believe Fintech is the way of the future and a focus of my Cambridge MBA experience. My ambition with my MBA is to combine my educational background in artificial intelligence and work experience in investment management to deliver cutting edge solutions to the financial services industry. The University of Cambridge’s expertise in the areas of machine learning and mathematics is a key reason why I chose to apply to Cambridge Judge Business School.’  

Pravar Aggarwal continues, ‘We want to explore two paths in the Fintech SIG – start-ups that are operating in the Fintech space across various areas like wealth-tech, insurance, and payments and an emerging but often overlooked area in Fintech is a big tech company foraying into finance or a financial services company foraying into tech such as Google Pay or Barclays Innovation Lab. Delving into this space is one of our agendas for the year.’ 

My pre-MBA experience was as an external consultant specialising in Fintech, a large part of my role was enabling the unbanked, and the under-banked in Hong Kong get access to financial services through Fintech. 

The Fintech SIG Lead was a natural choice in my career development as I wanted to continue exploring avenues to empower people so that they can secure their financial future through Fintech.’ 

For the Private Equity/Venture Capital PE/VC sector Guy Wallace SIG leader outlines his SIG perspective,  

‘I was a VC investor in Sydney, Australia, for the past few years. I learnt an unbelievable amount in such a short time and believed that taking a leadership position in the SIG would enable me to share my knowledge on the industry to others. I also wish to broaden my exposure to the European start-up ecosystem, which is where I plan to work post-MBA either back in VC or in a more entrepreneurial endeavour. 

The process of breaking into PE and VC can be a bit of a black box. Typically, there is no particular pathway or background required to land a role. Our focus for the SIG this year is to break down this opaque industry as best as possible for our members.’ 

For the Finance SIG student Tommy Leung is also keen to develop his own global lens and broaden his perspective, having spent five years trading in London and Asia for Goldman Sachs. As well as broaden the knowledge of the SIG members through workshops, networking and training, in turn building relations across the class as well as better equipping members for a deeper career in this sector going forward.  

For the Social Innovation SIG leader Ariana Alexander-Sefre business impact comes through experience.  

‘I hope to demonstrate, through my real-life work, the importance of having an impact focus in entrepreneurship. As a serial entrepreneur myself, I know the highs, lows, mindset, and lifestyle required to succeed. It took me ten years to learn that true success is how positively your work is impacting the people you are serving. Through our SIG panels and other planned activities, I look forward to sharing stories and helping others realise their own purpose through Social Innovation.’ 

For those running the Entrepreneurship SIG impact is also on the agenda. 

‘The intention of the Entrepreneurship SIG this year is to create an organisation that brings the rich entrepreneurial ecosystem of Cambridge together. We are really excited about fostering interdisciplinary connections and conversations amongst people at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. We have a speaker series lined up, as well as some workshops which aim to help budding entrepreneurs work through their ideas in a constructive environment amongst their peers.’ – Jonathan McBride.  

Co-leader Mira Howard, also a Culture Media and Arts CJBS Scholarship recipient,  

‘My intention coming to CJBS was always to start my own business, so my aim is to get as involved as possible with the entrepreneurial community in Cambridge.  

Especially as a woman, I am happy to bring some female perspective and representation to this traditionally male-dominated field!  

I am really interested in reaching across department lines to facilitate conversations about topics in all disciplines, which is a big focus of the Entrepreneurship SIG this year. Regarding what sectors I am interested in, I come from an arts/media background and I am exploring opportunities for new businesses in the media industry. I am particularly fascinated by the emerging intersection between music and data.’ 

For the Business Design & Innovation (BDI) SIG Tripti Gawanker says,  

‘As this is a very niche and new field, we need to know more about it, learn the techniques, apply them in projects and finally experience our solutions. Like most other SIGs we intend to have a speaker series and engage with companies as well. 

As Design thinking is closely linked to creativity, we would also like to harness the creative intelligence of the SIG and the cohort. We would like to explore the various sub-areas within Business Design such as venture design, product design, service design & culture design.  

As Cambridge Judge is known for its proximity to the Silicon Fen, we hope we can leverage this ecosystem to apply some of our design thinking skills.’ 

Mona Bagga and Emily Shao take up leadership positions in the Retail E-Commerce Luxury Marketing SIG or RELM. 

‘I am obsessed with consumers’ buying patterns and their behaviour. This sums up my twelve years work experience in fashion retail. 

My post MBA goal is to pivot to E-commerce, preferably in Digital Marketing space. Hence, with my experience in retail and my interest in E-commerce and marketing, leading RELM SIG was the most natural step for me. 

I will utilise my year as the SIG lead in encouraging the most important conversations in fashion and retail, like sustainability & circular fashion, while learning and catching up with the now and future of retail in E-commerce and omni channel.  

Across the wider university eco-system there are many networking and learning opportunities in this space. As elected Communications Chair for the Cambridge Business School Club (CBSC) I intend to complement these responsibilities with the Marketing Concentration on the MBA Programme. Wearing a few different hats while powering through the academics, I am ready to make the most of my year at Cambridge,’ says Mona Bagga.  

For Emily Shao, ‘Having worked for an eCommerce unicorn and a Fortune 1 company in North America, I would like to integrate my understanding of scalable eCommerce businesses with the broad scope of strategic thinking that the Cambridge MBA offers. 

Partnering with Jennifer Yiu and Mona Bagga as co-chairs of RELM, we would like to bring to this year’s class our knowledge in retail and merchandising, an extensive network in different fields across the globe, and a knowledge-base that may lead to potential global career opportunities.’ 

This demonstrates just a snapshot of some of the industry and sector based SIGs running this year, we will share further students insights on the country based Special Interest Groups in a second blog post coming soon.

View a full list of all the 22 different Special Interest Groups for Cambridge MBA Class of 2020/21 this year. Our Cambridge MBA Careers pages can also be found here.