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James Bray

Career Path: Digital Marketing Executive, Robson Laidler Accountants & Company Director, Bray Affiliate Ltd.
Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

After experimenting with setting online businesses on the Entrepreneurial Business Management programme, it became clear that the one skill I would need to master to be successful as an entrepreneur was sales and marketing. As a result, this area of business became a strong interest of mine, and so with help from the staff at Northumbria, other students on my course, and consuming other content on the subject I was able to learn all the basics of sales and marketing.

This knowledge and experience, combined with the confidence which I had gained from the EMB programme, enabled me to get a job doing marketing for a local accountancy firm in Jesmond shortly after graduating. It also enabled me to continue to pursue my goal of setting up my own business after graduation.

What are you doing now?James Bray

I am a digital marketing executive at an ambitious accountancy firm based just around the corner from Northumbria University in Jesmond. I am also the founder and company director of Bray Affiliates Ltd, an online affiliate marketing business which is just around the corner from it's launch!

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I knew when I was in sixth form I wanted to start my own business rather than go down the traditional path of employment. However, I was deeply frustrated by the lack of further education opportunities out there would help me achieve this goal, as most business degree's are designed with employment being the sole intention after graduation. However, when I visited the open day events for the Entrepreneurial Business Management course, unlike similar courses at other Universities I visited, the staff at Northumbria were incredibly welcoming, and genuinely highly passionate about the programme. The current students at the time also spoke very highly of the course, and were able to demonstrate success they'd had in their business ventures, and how the programme and Northumbria staff had helped them to achieve this.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

It was nothing short of very exciting! The weekly coaching sessions we had as part of the course were a key part of my own self development during my time at Northumbria. We also had 'generator sessions' which were a great opportunity to learn from as well as contribute our own ideas towards outside local business owners. We also had designated time in our timetables to network and collaborate with other year groups on the course, giving you access to a much larger community than most business degree students are ever exposed to while at University. We also had 'bootcamp' weeks at the start of each academy year, which were a chance to get involved in a series of business challenges, get you outside your comfort zone, network with other students and business owners, and practice real world leadership skills and team work in a safe environment.

Unlike most other University degrees out there, this course also gives you countless opportunities to develop your leadership ability, as well as other key skills that are highly valued both by employers and essential for business such as public speaking, team work (and I don't just mean making towers out of paper straws...), project management, the ability to pitch and present, self awareness, and much more. We also got constant support and feedback from the staff, but also from other students during coaching sessions. When I think back to my time on the EBM course, the one thing I remember the most was the key turning points that were created in my own mindset, confidence and self awareness that came as a result of specific feedback I received from Northumbria staff and the collaboration with other students.

How connected was your course with industry?

The idea of the EBM programme is you start your own real business while you're on the course, so it's very real world focused. There were also frequent business owner guest speakers that would share their stories and learnings from starting their own businesses. This also opened up great networking opportunities.

What was the best thing about your course?

The strong community and collaboration of other aspiring business owner students on the course. This is what really separates the EBM programme from anything else.The real world experience, coaching, and support from the Northumbria the staff was also excellent.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

The real edge anyone who completes the Entrepreneurial Business Management programme gets is the real world experience of starting your own business, and all the skills and strong personal development that comes with that. Whether you continue to pursue your start up business venture post graduation, go into employment, or do both like me, the confidence, maturity of character, leadership ability, personal and professional development you undergo when starting a business is like nothing else. This combined with the support from the University, the course staff, and network you build with other students, makes it difficult not to have an edge over others starting in their career.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

The main things you gain from EBM is the development of your character. In terms of specific skills and knowledge though, leadership, business planning, project management, the ability to self motivate, as well as motivate others, and a strong awareness of what makes businesses both success and fail. These are are all skills that I developed while on EBM that have all played a key part in career so far.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I mostly enjoyed the entrepreneurial environment that comes with being on the EBM programme the most. The collaboration with other students was essential to getting me to where I am today, both for my personal development, and in the business ventures I've worked on while on the programme and since graduating.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

If you're considering starting your own business, the Entrepreneurial Business Management programme in my opinion is the best opportunity out there! The University support is second to none (even after graduation), the staff are nothing but generous with their time and support, and the networking and collaboration you'll get to experience with other like minded ambitious students on the course is highly valuable.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Opportunistic, collaborative and exciting.

For more information about me visit:

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