Case study: Santander SME internship Q&A with Gameli Ladzekpo
This UCL graduate has founded his own startup after completing the Engineering with Business Finance Integrated Master’s programme.
8 February 2018
Gameli Ladzekpo is a recent Engineering graduate from UCL's Engineering with Business Finance Integrated Master’s programme.
He is now on the Business Graduate programme at Thomson Reuters and a co-founder of RESOLVE, a design collective which combines Engineering, Architecture and Art to solve multi-scalar social problems.
Q: Where were you placed for your internship?
A: I was placed at Capital Enterprise, a non-profit which mentors and supports entrepreneurs in London. It was my role to assist the CEO, John Spindler. We were offering support to SMEs and startups. In particular, we were helping connect startups to investment and fundraising opportunities. Capital Enterprise was also launching CapitalList, an online platform bridging the gap between London’s entrepreneurs and investors. At that time UCL was executing a number of exciting enterprise initiatives including the opening of IDEALondon. It was great to be a part of it!
Q: Why did you choose the internship?
A: I wanted to learn more about how early stage companies secure funding while figuring out their business models. John had a reputation as being an experienced entrepreneur and with a deep knowledge of the London Startup scene, so I knew he’d be a great mentor.
So, I tracked him down to an event in Shoreditch and pitched myself. Fortunately, he agreed to take me on. This experience highlights one of the major benefits of the Santander Internship - with a little hustle and proactiveness, a student can secure a legitimate internship with exactly the company they'd like to work for.
During my internship, I was able to build relationships with entrepreneurs who were at the early stages of launching their businesses. A few have gone on to significant exits, some have raised further funding, others have closed down shop. But they’ve all been important lessons from my own venture.
I had the great opportunity to talk about building a startup at university at Campus Party (a startup conference), which was a great experience. The most useful conversations were with entrepreneurs tackling really tough problems, and being inspired by the determination and work ethic in pursuing their ventures.
Q: So what are you doing now?
A: I’m currently enrolled on the Business Graduate programmed at Thomson Reuters. I’m currently on my first rotation with the Enterprise Proposition team in the Financial and risk division. We help turn the overall strategy into deliverable propositions for our customers. It’s been really useful to have some understanding of value proposition which I learnt through workshops during the London Entrepreneurs Challenge. Outside of Work, I run a design collective called RESOLVE, where we work with local councils to deliver community activities and regeneration projects.
Q: How has the internship benefited your career?
A: Most graduate programmes encourage grads to bring new ideas to the table; at Thomson Reuters, innovation is a core principle, so it’s particularly important here. While I was at Capital Enterprise, the SMEs we supported focused on innovation, lean business principles and value proposition design. In my current role as a proposition analyst, it’s important to bring the startup mentality I learnt through my internship, as we develop new propositions for our customers.
As co-founders of RESOLVE, Akil Scafe-Smith and I work with local councils to provide creative solutions to social problems. Last year, we completed an installation for the London Design Festival, and we’re currently working with Atkins on a regeneration project in Loughborough Junction, supported by the Greater London Authority and Lambeth Council. Partnership is a key part of the process. Through working at Capital Enterprise, I got to see how startups, universities, accelerators, investors etc all worked in partnership to create a synergistic ecosystem. We apply this thinking to our work at RESOLVE, and we’re always thinking about how we can work in collaboration with other organisations.