The final stretch

For his EMBA Individual Project, retail banker Tom Martin (EMBA 2016) is asking how banks can better support entrepreneurs.  His journey on this quest has taken him further than he could have imagined.

How did I end up here? Whether it was my invitation to speak at London’s City Hall to over 100 budding start-ups, or visiting St. James’ Palace for Pitch@Place 8.0, I’ve done things that would have never crossed my mind a year ago… and this can all be traced back to my Executive MBA course and my Individual Project (IP).

What’s the Individual Project (IP)?

You have complete freedom to find any supervisor among the CJBS faculty, define any question you want, and spend time researching it.  Initially, the prospect of spending days locked up in a library didn’t excite me, but the resultant experience was far from it.   I’m looking at what UK banks should do to support entrepreneurs.  Banking is my life’s mission, but I know little about entrepreneurship.  In Cambridge, a UK hotbed of entrepreneurship, I thought where better to combine a passion and a great opportunity to learn?


The Duke of York has set up this great series of events to support entrepreneurship across the UK.  After seeing him speak at the Judge I thought I’d get in touch with for a bit of research.  His Private Secretary was kind enough to invite me to St. James’ Palace to see 40 entrepreneurs pitch!  Being a retail banker I’d never seen anything like it, let alone talk to so many ambitious entrepreneurs.   A fabulous aside was to bump into a couple of the EMBA cohort who attend regularly – this network of ours is huge and powerful!

FinTech mentoring

Given my new-found interest in start-ups, I’ve now joined my bank’s FinTech mentoring programme.  Given the scale of transformation coming to banking, and our purpose to #HelpBritainProsper, we want to support and learn from innovative and agile companies.   I’m loving it, and hopefully am providing a bit of helpful guidance too.

Here I am giving a speech at an entrepreneurship event hosted by London & Partners at London’s City Hall

London Mayor’s start-up initiative:  London & Partners

As a result of my start-up knowledge and my growing experience in the area, I was invited to speak at a Christmas event for 100 start-ups at London’s City Hall.   This is a fabulous organisation, supporting young businesses that are the cornerstone of London’s and the UK’s economy.  This was a brilliant experience to have had, with stunning views over the City a great added bonus!

Overlooking London from City Hall

Not forgetting…

Throughout this project I’ve also sat and engaged with our fantastic CJBS faculty.  Many of them are outstanding entrepreneurs in their own right, and talked with me for hours individually, sharing their knowledge… they didn’t even want a coffee from me!  I haven’t even mentioned my entrepreneurial classmates and friends, who’ve shared their ideas and perspectives with me.

I’ve got a couple of months of the EMBA left… I wonder what else I’ll get up to!  Never, ever, would I have imagined having any of these experiences!

The phrase ‘See where it takes you’ is on the front page of the EMBA brochure – how apt!

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