Recent Faculty of Business and Law alumni success stories
We take great pride in your success and love hearing how alumni have flourished since graduating. Hear from some of our Faculty of Business and Law alumni below as they discuss their steps into the working world and how they've used their academic knowledge in their careers so far.
Meet Michael, BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance graduate
Accounting and Finance alumnus Michael Gray did a work placement at BMW before securing a graduate job at Deloitte. Michael shares his story and how his experience and skills developed at the Faculty of Business and Law played a key role in becoming a Finance Manager.
My name is Michael Gray and I work for Artifax Software Ltd, and I'm The finance manager there.
I've grown up in Croydon, which is in South London.I was the first to go to university in my family.I chose Portsmouth. That first day of driving into the car park and moving in was something I'll never forget. So what really sold me? Being a guy from London, you're not really used to seeing the sea. You can go for a run to de-stress. If you do want that city side of stuff, you've got that there also, absolutely perfect for me.
Getting a job in my placement year was definitely more difficult than getting a graduate job. A job popped up from BMW. To be honest, I couldn't have wished for a better placement year.
I think one of the main reasons I got the job was because of the really good support that I got from the university. From CV building to interview practice, it was really exceptional. You think you're going to excel, but you're not really that good at excel until you actually are thrown in the fire.
I think the thing I'm most proud of in my journey so far is getting the call from Deloitte saying that I was lucky enough to be recruited.
That was an amazing thing. Imagine, one of the big four that you learnt throughout your studies that these are the sort of companies you want to aspire to and be recruited by, and getting that phone call was something I could have never imagined.
So, the future for me is that within the next five years, I'll be CFO of the group of companies.
That's the aim. If I didn't go to the University of Portsmouth, I probably would be wondering what I want to do next probably, but because I had that support network of great tutors, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, that was invaluable.
Ed Adams - BA (Hons) Business Management and Entrepreneurship graduate
Alumnus Ed Adams graduated in 2017 with a Business Management and Entrepreneurship degree from the University of Portsmouth. He is now a Director of E-commerce at his own company. Ed discusses building an enterprise society and how the Faculty of Business and Law enabled him to network with alumni in Silicon Valley and helped him to start his own successful business.
My name is Ed Adams and I am the Director of my own company, I'm an Amazon seller.
I sell Amazon FBA, which is fulfilled by Amazon. I see an exciting product that I really want to push onto the Amazon platform and see the success of products.
Finishing A-levels, I really wanted to get a year out and just go and see the world but I was really keen to come back and do an entrepreneurial course and looking around the UK, Portsmouth just had the perfect course.
In my course of studying business, enterprise and development, I bumped into Zoe Dann, who is the course leader. We're there discussing what I'd like to see in my three years at the University of Portsmouth.
I said I'd really like to have an enterprise society. She said there was one but it's all kind of come to a close, why don't you start one?
I think it was in that same conversation, she kind of finished it off saying, why don't you build a society and take the society to Silicon Valley?
Then that kind of set the foundations, I guess, to what it became. So there's tons of alumni all over the place.
Using LinkedIn, we were able to link up with those guys in the Silicon Valley area. We made appointments with the guys and that kind of led to structuring these interviews with them. We recorded the interviews with these Portsmouth Alumni. I looked up to these people. Speaking to ex-Facebook alumni people that have worked pretty much next to Mark Zuckerberg's office and kind of seeing that their journey from the University of Portsmouth all the way to Silicon Valley and beyond a passion was lit.
To have my business now and to have it up and running and to see it being successful, I think that's credit to the university for putting me on that path to where I am now.
I think that the University of Portsmouth was there and I was able to lean on those resources, and that was always a bit of guidance and they were really willing to help me get what I needed.
The thing that really motivates me is just to be kind of my own boss, to really be an entrepreneur in my own remit and drive my own business forward. It gets me up in the morning. It's my passion. This is my drive.
Opeyemi Otunuga - BSc (Econ) (Hons) Economics graduate
University of Portsmouth alumna Opeyemi Otunuga graduated in 2019 with an Economics Degree. She is now an Economist at Ofgem and a mentor in our Women in Economics programme. Opeyemi reflects back on key things she learned at the Faculty of Business and Law and how it steered her towards a career in the government sector.
My name is Opeyemi Otunuga and I'm currently an economist at Ofgem.
When I was three years old, my mum and dad started me off on this Maths and English programme called Kumon.Kumon is essentially a programme that is enabled to develop your academic ability. Because of Kumon and doing maths and English every single day, this made me very advanced in school, and when I was 13 years old, I got the opportunity to sit my maths GCSE early and I got an A grade the first time around. In school, the head teacher calls me the queen of maths and when I go down there now he still refers to me as that so it's quite nice.
My love of economics started very early on, so I'd always enjoyed maths and I knew that growing up I'd always wanted to do something very analytical and very numerical, and also my older brother went on to do economics as well so I'm a bit of a copycat because he also did it, and he's doing great at the moment, and I saw him as a role model and I thought that, yeah, this is something that I could definitely pursue as well.
So when I first went to the University of Portsmouth, I wanted to go into finance. However, after listening in to a GS placement talk and then being successful as an economist in the government sector, I very quickly realised that a career in the government sector was for me, and that was an area that I wanted to go into, and that was purely based on the type of work I was doing, the impact I was having on the people around me and the impact on society as a whole as well.
The placement team at Portsmouth are just amazing. I mean, words can't describe how supportive and how helpful they are in terms of securing the role that you want.
They did more interview sessions. You could always just knock on their door and just receive any help or support to get placements.
For me, it was a real game changer in terms of where I am today. The experience that I gained from doing my placement year at the DWP really set the scene for my future career, and I wouldn't be where I am today without the University of Portsmouth.
April Phillips - LLB (Hons) Law graduate
University of Portsmouth alumna April Phillips graduated in 2018 with a Law degree. She is now a Corporate Associate at Shoosmiths. April explains how the Faculty of Business and Law gave her key insights into London city firms, highlighted opportunities and helped her successfully apply for a training contract.
My name is April Phillips and I'm a trainee solicitor at Shoosmiths.
I'd enjoyed law when I was at college and wanted to do something that I would be interested in. I knew that law would be quite a broad ranging topic and it would open up a lot of opportunities post-university.
While I was at the University of Portsmouth, I decided to explore different avenues to try and figure out what I wanted to do post-university, and as part of that I found that I really enjoyed the system aspect of it, so I decided to explore that further, which meant I then decided to apply for a training contract.
A number of opportunities were highlighted to me by lecturers, including the City Solicitors Horizons programme, which was a programme based in London, which looked at city firms and gave some insight into those which I otherwise wouldn't have had.
Going into law, it's a competitive field and I needed to get as much experience as I could to demonstrate that I could do the job and would stand out against other candidates from other universities.
I probably wouldn't have been able to make that decision without that experience. My time at the University of Portsmouth changed me in terms of my confidence and my ultimate path.
It gave me the chance to explore that and that confidence grew as a result and I think I'm more of a well-rounded human being now, I like to think.
I've been back a couple of times, done a couple of different events. It's quite nice to go back and hopefully reassure people that it's not as scary as you think and that making those choices and experiencing things while you're at university, that time is really valuable and can change your path.
It's really motivating and it's nice to recognise how I've got here and the success that I've had and pass that on to hopefully see more junior lawyers coming through from Portsmouth.
The Faculty of Business and Law paves the way for undergraduates and postgraduates to achieve great things in their chosen careers by incorporating their academic knowledge into the working world. Discover how some of our successful alumni have excelled in their professional careers below.
Julian Sawyer - Starling Bank
Julian is the Co-founder of Starling Bank and was, until recently, the CEO of the world's longest-running cryptocurrency exchange, Bitstamp, with over four million customers.
He has been an advisor to the board of the leading Australian challenger bank, Volt, and an advisor to a number of financial services businesses in Europe, the United States and Dubai.
Julian also featured in our Business Beyond the Classroom series, where he shared his expertise on the future of money.
Watch Julian's keynote talk: The Future of Money
BA (Hons) Business Studies, 1991
Rachel Lowe MBE
Rachel created the Destination brand of board games, and in 2004 the Destination game became the top-selling game in Hamley's, London.
Rachel was subsequently awarded an MBE in 2009 for her services to business.
Rachel has stayed connected to the University as an Entrepreneur in Residence offering expert business start-up advice to students, alumni and staff.
BSc (Hons) Law with Business, 2006
Join a global network
Our international alumni community consists of more than 45,600 business professionals in over 157 countries. Join our network to connect with like-minded alumni across the world.
As a global community, we welcome hearing success stories and achievements from across the globe.
Dr Ishmael Ackah
International alumnus Dr Ishmael Ackah studied a PhD in Economics in 2016 and was awarded the Rising Star Award at the 2017 Ghana Energy Awards. Energy economist Ishmael is currently Executive Secretary for the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission in Ghana and set up an alumni networking society in his homeland.
Watch Ishmael's inspirational video as he discusses the influence of the Faculty of Business and Law, how his studies gave him the tools to grow in academia and industry laying the foundations for his successful career in Ghana.
"The Business School provided a platform to hone my research skills and establish valuable contacts. I had a very supportive team of supervisors alongside excellent learning resources which positioned me well for growth after my studies."
Executive Secretary, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, Ghana
PhD Economics, 2016
Obianuju Eloji — President of the Nigerian Alumni Association
After completing her Master's degree in Financial Decision Analysis in 2011, alumna Obianuju Eloji returned to her homeland and became the first female President of the Nigerian Alumni Association, supporting, connecting and empowering her fellow alumni.
Obianuju shared her journey with us outlining how the Faculty of Business and Law helped her to build a strong mindset and how studying at the University of Portsmouth inspired her to start a non-profit initiative to educate children in Nigeria.
The Modules from my Master's course were instrumental to my career success. The University's excellent delivery and approach to student outcomes have made me stand out everywhere I've worked in the UK and Nigeria over the past decade.
Here, alumni reflect on the teaching, career preparation, exchanges, placement support and entrepreneurial guidance they received during their studies.
"The Business School helped me learn how to connect with diverse groups of individuals. I remember the experiences early on in my education and the support we received to learn how to communicate with one another and understand different perspectives."
The most important aspect to my university experience was ensuring I had both work experience and international experience. I managed to fulfil both by taking a placement year in Affiliate Marketing with Top Cashback, and a year abroad at Stockholm University in Sweden.
Coming out with the commercial awareness and mentality that you get from the University of Portsmouth was key for me.
We're excited to hear about your experiences and achievements since graduating, so keep in touch and update your contact details. Many of our alumni are also actively involved in mentoring, volunteering, offering industry expertise, and supporting current and future students.