Having worked as a senior drilling engineer for oilfield services giant Schlumberger for four years, and then for Mitsubishi Steel Trading, Olga Nefedova took a full-time MBA at Warwick Business School in 2008-2009.
She now combines a customer services manager role at Schlumberger with running an online gallery selling Russian art, the Kohgan Art Gallery.
“I was quite a corporate person, and idea of entrepreneurialism was scary to me, but the classes I had really gave me encouragement,” she says. “I felt that you had to be setting up companies from the age of 12, but the statistics showed that most people start after 30 and take a number of attempts before they have one which is a success. You have to be prepared to lose, there is no fear of being unsuccessful, which is just the opposite to the corporate world.”
Since Nefedova set up the gallery late last year, she has exhibited work at the NEC in Birmingham, and now also plans to do so at the Affordable Art Fair in London later in 2010. She says that the energy she gets from the artists is unlike anything in the corporate world. “I went into the MBA thinking it was all about money, but it taught me that you can have soul and passion in business too.”
“MY background was in marketing and I had worked in France, Spain, South America and Italy and I thought an MBA would improve my English and broaden my horizons,” says Emmanuel Carraud. After a decade in corporate life that included stints with food and drink manufacturer Danone, market researcher ACNielsen and retailer Auchan, Carraud decided that an MBA would help him make the next step. In the first term he met a couple of computer scientists with an idea for a business making iPhone apps. Together they founded MagicSolver whose first product was Magic Sudoku, an app so that allows you to solve any Sudoku puzzle in 10 seconds. They won the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Competition in June 2009 and haven’t looked back.
“We started in July and since September all three of us have been full-time on the business.” Their biggest selling app so far was an advent calendar at Christmas, the fifth most downloaded in the UK in December, with 200,000 downloads.
“Now we are working on a Sudoku app for the iPad which will be multiplayer, so you can challenge your friends to play.” Thanks to his Cambridge contacts, Carraud has made the three big career changes – industry, function and country – in less than a year. “An MBA changes your outlook,” he says. www.MagicSolver.com