Country of origin: Pakistan
Founder and CEO of Lutebox
Having studied and worked in marketing extensively, first at university with a Bachelors in Business Administration and an MBA, both with a specialisation in marketing, and then at blue-chip multinationals GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever in New Product Development and Brand Management respectively, I was looking to build a subject expertise in marketing.
I narrowed down my search for a postgraduate marketing programme to three universities: Warwick, Cranfield, and Lancaster. I ended up choosing Lancaster and the MSc in Advanced Marketing Management because of the programme structure. After studying marketing for so many years, the programme at Lancaster seemed like the best one in terms of further building an in-depth comprehensive understanding and expertise of the subject. The ranking of the Management School had also grown immensely over the past few years which was a really important consideration.
The programme at Lancaster was equal parts challenging and fulfilling. In spite of my varied work experience in several countries, it was the first time on the MSc that I had the chance to work with such an incredibly diverse group of colleagues. This experience has helped me grow individually, and has allowed me to forge relationships with people who will no doubt be at the forefront of their careers in the future.
As part of the degree we had a number of live practical projects to work on, such as the CSA project with Microsoft. However, because it is a research-based Masters it also places a high emphasis on theoretical learning. Overall, the programme exposes students to many differing viewpoints, challenging them to think critically, and requiring them to work extremely hard.
While on the MSc I was elected as a student representative, was invited to join and then accepted into the Sandbox Network (a global community of hand-picked young high-achievers under 30), was accepted on to the High Growth programme for entrepreneurs in the North West, and was accepted as a member of Oxford University Entrepreneurs. I also co-founded an online media business as part of a weekend startup event and was part of a team that was selected to represent LUMS in the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s inter-university “The Pitch” competition across Northwest UK.
Furthermore, during my time on the programme, I conceptualised and developed a concept for an internet startup business which spun out of research for my dissertation. The resources that I had access to from Lancaster University allowed me to push my vision into reality, motivating me to approach more than twenty top venture firms and investors across Europe, and cementing interest from several investors and top advisors to come onboard. I have recently moved to London and plan to incorporate and launch my business in December. In the meantime I am working as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Groupon, the fastest growing company in history1, an experience that no doubt will be incredibly helpful for my own business.
All of this would definitely not have been possible without my time on the programme and support from Lancaster University. One year at LUMS has provided me with the opportunity, impetus and motivation for launching a startup business with global aspirations.
Ali went on to found Lutebox, a company specialising in social messaging apps.