Alumni Roundup – Where are they now?

Alumni

As our inaugural Masters students from GCU’s world leading MSc in Social Business & Microfinance graduate later this month we thought we’d check up on our high flying graduates to see what they have gone on to accomplish since completing their postgraduate studies with us. Thanks to Diletta, Pedro and Emma for sharing their stories with us.

Diletta Taris – MSc Social Business & Microfinance 2014-15

My name is Diletta Elisa Taris, I am graduating with a Masters with Distinction in Social Business and Microfinance at Glasgow Caledonian University in November; and I currently am a Loans Officer for Grameen Scotland Foundation, trading as Grameen in the UK.

The story of how all that happened is a bit of a strange one, and wasn’t at all what I had planned: it was and is much better! When I started I wasn’t aiming for great achievements, and I was very intimidated by the prospect of a dissertation in English as it is not my first language. However, it gradually became easier – after the many, many journal articles I had to read! The course was demanding, but we had plenty of material to rely on, and plenty of support and stimuli.

When I started, I was equally interested in social business and in microfinance, but during the course, especially thanks to the enthusiasm and passion that our lecturer Dr Olga Biosca conveyed in her lectures, I soon started focusing my interest in microfinance. As a result, I chose to write my dissertation on microfinance, with a specific focus on clients’ demographics of newly founded Grameen in the UK.

When starting my dissertation I was quite intimidated because I had not undertaken a piece of work like this before. I was, however, determined to try my best because I thoroughly enjoyed the topic I was writing about. Speaking about the dissertation we would hear people say: “it’ll have a huge impact”; “it’s important you choose your topic carefully”, but initially, I feel, many students didn’t fully take these comments on-board. Thanks to the guidance of my lecturers, however, I was able to develop what I can say now was a valuable project and one that I enjoyed undertaking. And it was the best thing I could have done! After finishing my dissertation, I heard that Grameen were looking for a new staff member, and there I was, just finishing Uni, with a thorough knowledge of the Grameen Bank’s history, achievement, operation practices, and with fresh insights on Grameen in the UK. It is clear to me that the MSc in Social Business & Microfinance led me straight to my current role within the microfinance sector – a role I would not have without my time at GCU.

Pedro Santos – MSc Social Business & Microfinance 2014-15

When I first met Professor Simon Teasdale back in 2014, I was far from imagining the impact that conversation would have on my life.

I have just recently completed my MSc in Social Business and Microfinance and have been fortunate enough to secure a role within BRAG Enterprises, Ltd in Fife. BRAG is a social enterprise that specialises in employability support and social enterprise business advice. It is exactly under the social enterprise business advice team I work as the social enterprise adviser for the Kingdom of Fife, we operate under a service level agreement with Fife Council.

I could not be any happier with my role; I have the unique opportunity to support a wide range of new social enterprises and social entrepreneurs, at different stages of their journey. This allows me to engage in a myriad of topics and contexts, e.g. disabilities, sports, employability and training. One of the social enterprises I am currently supporting is trying to change the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh through an innovative Microfinance solution. This diverse mix of engagement allows me to build my skills and provides me an exciting work environment.

Another of my responsibilities is to coordinate the Fife Social Enterprise Network (FSEN), part of Senscot – a national umbrella organisation for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs in Scotland. The FSEN started in 2004 and was the first ever network of its kind in Scotland. The engagement with the FSEN has allowed me to a couple of visits to the Scottish Parliament, where I am involved in the Cross Party Group on social enterprises.

The biggest project I am involved at the moment is the creation of the South East Social Enterprise Zone, a joint collaboration of six different SEN’s with the aspiration to create the first interregional development zone exclusively dedicated to social enterprise. This will be supported through strong branding and marketing approach across the six regions, Fife, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian and the Scottish Borders. The work group has seen its proposals included in the Edinburgh City deal outline recently submitted to Westminster.

Could I have done such great achievements without my MSc in Social Business and Microfinance? I doubt it. I am gradually starting to get a better grasp of the importance of the teaching I was exposed to, the difficulties to determine and define social enterprise and social entrepreneurship within so many different definitions and frameworks. I strongly recommend anyone that has a passion, interest or just curiosity in social enterprise and microfinance to enrol on the MSc offered by Glasgow Caledonian University. You will be exposed to amazing lecturers and will make friends to carry for life. It can change your life and has certainly changed mine.

Emma Harris – MSc Social Business & Microfinance 2014-15

I’ve been hired as a dual Marketing Coordinator and Consultant with Self Care Catalysts, a patient informatics, intelligence and solutions company. Self Care Catalysts is spearheading a revolutionary concept within healthcare: shifting the power to the patients. This is made possible through the Health Storylines app, which collects real-time, real-world patient information. With patient consent, this information is aggregated and de-identified and insights are provided to leading pharmaceutical companies interested in improving their products for better patient care.

Given the nature of my dual-role, my days are non-stop! Time management and multi-tasking skills are imperative in order to keep on top of my workload. That being said, working for such a mission is incredibly rewarding, not to mention interesting. It seems as though I blink and it’s already time to catch the train home.

Completing my MSc in Social Business and Microfinance equipped me a variety of skills and abilities, including those mentioned above, necessary to perform with excellence. Furthermore, my boss, the CEO and Founder whom I originally met on a flight to Vancouver, hired me in part due to my completion of post-graduate studies. She was impressed with the initiative and international experience.

For this reason, I truly believe acquiring this job – my dream job – would not have been possible without completing my MSc at Glasgow Caledonian University. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity that GCU has led me to, and I know there are more to come!

Thanks for our accomplished alumni for letting us know what they have gone on to do since leaving GCU. We’d love all of our graduates to stay in touch with us – please feel free to email us at socialinnovation@gcu.ac.uk if you’d like to share your stories with us! 

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