MBA Candidate Sarel van Baalen describes how the Entrepreneurship Centre helped him acquire an entrepreneurial mindset and join a UK start-up.
What has convinced you to move to a career of entrepreneurship?
I have always been interested and fascinated by the world of entrepreneurship, but I felt it was a bit too risky for a career, compared to other fields. However, being part of the Entrepreneurship Project and attending the Entrepreneurial Finance class by Thomas Hellman gave me a new perspective. These two experiences showed me how risks can be analysed, understood, and mitigated through appropriate strategies and tools. That encouraged me to be more open and approach entrepreneurial opportunities with more confidence.
What about the Liber Project? Why did you decide to join it?
I decided to apply because I was attracted by the companies enrolled in the programme and knew that an internship during the pandemic would be a great learning experience. And I’m glad I did. I think the Liber Project has been an ingenious initiative able to face the pandemic’s crisis by connecting companies and students’ needs, at a very appropriate time. It took me from the classroom to a real-world start-up environment through a structured programme. Joining the Liber project through either a full-time internship or as part of a business unit provided flexibility to students that wanted to join this great initiative. The support, webinars and workshops were also helpful and engaging; The Olivier Robert-Murphy and David Fogel sessions were my favourites. I believe the Liber Project is a fantastic addition to the School’s programmes and should continue regardless of the COVID-19 emergency.
Why did you decide to work for Sook?
After my internship at Sook, that I secured through the Liber Project, I was offered a fulltime job. I accepted and I joined the company as Commercial Director. Sook not only fits my interests and career ambitions, but also allows me to help solve a modern socio-economic challenge. The company has a real estate focus which is aligned with my background, and delivers innovative, creative and technology-focused services to the market. Sook has a great leadership team, which I enjoy working with and will learn a lot from. I have learnt so much during my MBA, and Sook offers me an invaluable and immediate opportunity to apply those skills and move forward with my career. While I am not the founder of the company, this new role requires a lot of entrepreneurial skills like business development, fundraising, and strategic partnerships. It’s an excellent opportunity to merge my previous expertise with the knowledge I have acquired through my MBA while also working for a promising start-up.