BCU graduate Harry Jawanda is the CEO and Co-Founder of Wambiz, an app-based staff engagement technology company which he recently sold to Allocate Software. Harry’s product has helped support the operational and administrative needs within healthcare, defence and maritime sectors. We spoke with Harry to discover how his studies encouraged his entrepreneurial spirit and what it’s really like running your own business.
Harry, you studied Business Information Systems BSc at the University, what advice do you have for students who are embarking on the same course?
I would advise students to be 100% committed to achieve their best on the course as this will provide them with the foundation they need for graduate jobs. The successful completion and results I obtained during my course, came mainly from putting the hours and effort in that the course deserved. The results you obtain during the course are also vital for job applications. I would advise to try and obtain summer internships during the course to gain industry experience. Engaging in group exercises is also helpful as collaboration with others is an important skill to have in the work place.
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You set up your own successful business, Wambiz, which specialises in apps for the education sector. Did you always want to start up your own business, or was this something your studies helped you realise?
I always wanted to start my own business. Whilst at university I set up my own company that offered training camps to young hockey players. It was when I did the course at BCU I realised that starting my own business after graduating was what I truly wanted and the course helped me realise how to make this a reality.
Which skills from your undergraduate do you apply to your role at Wambiz?
My undergraduate has taught me a combination of technical and business skills, therefore I understand how technology is developed and how to design it. It allows me to manage developers, whilst being able to build business plans, pitch for investment, build a sales strategy and execute the business plan. Having both the technical skills and the business skills has enabled me to make Wambiz a success, and I would not have been able to do so without the skills gained during my undergraduate.
Describe to us what a typical day of work is like for you.
There is no typical day when running your own business. Each day is different. Some days I talk to customers to sell my product, other days I mainly work with my development team to perfect the product that we offer. There are also days where I present the business to large audiences or sit in front of CEO’s of other businesses to discuss collaborations with Wambiz. The beauty of running your own business is that I mainly get to determine what my day looks like, rather than someone else setting this out for me, which keeps every day exciting.
While studying with us you undertook a placement year at Morgan Stanley, how did you find that experience and how did your placement year benefit your studies?
Working at Morgan Stanley was exciting, but challenging at the same time. Investment banking is known for the high pressure environment and it showed me the intensity of a working environment. It also highlighted the importance of being able to collaborate with your peers. Most of all though it illustrated the relevance of the university curriculum and how I would be able to apply what I had learnt in my future roles. It motivated me even more to put the right time and effort into my course and end my undergraduate with good results.
How do you think social networking apps will continue to impact the lives of students?
Social networking apps will improve communication between students and enable more collaboration. In my view this should take place in a secure and private social app, such as the Wambiz app to ensure students have access to the right content and can collaborate for university purposes. As younger generations grow up with social networking apps, this will push universities and schools in the same direction, to ensure the relevant content reaches students in a way that they understand and is easy for them to use.
What is your top tip for a student studying in the field of Computing?
Getting relevant industry experience during their degree. This will help guide them into the kind of role they would like to be in after graduating. To make my business a success I have worked many hours over the last couple of years. In order to do that, it is important that you perform a role that you enjoy.
Do you have an inspirational message for our students?
‘Never assume something is impossible to achieve, because limits are often just illusions.’
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