President of the Entrepreneurs Society Michael Mberi explains how students have chance to combine academic study with enterprise interests to develop skills and improve employability.
Choosing a university with entrepreneurial spirit
Michael was interested in enterprise and entrepreneurship before university. ‘I’m a BA History student, but I always knew I wanted the opportunity to further my business interests alongside my studies,’ he explains. ‘I discovered the Entrepreneurs Society on the University of Leeds’s website, and it had a huge impact on my choice to study here.’
‘I signed up to become a member of the society in Freshers’ Week, which happened to be during the pandemic,’ Michael continues. ‘During this time, the society went through a lot of inevitable changes. So, when the leadership elections came round a year later, I saw an opportunity to put myself forward for President. I believed I was someone who could revive the society to its pre-pandemic levels. I put together a candidate statement, and I was voted in to the role.’
Connecting society students with Spark and CEES
As President, Michael is responsible for everything that happens at the Entrepreneurs Society. ‘I make sure we run the right member events for students in entrepreneurship, advocate for students interested in enterprise in the university, and promote enterprise and entrepreneurship,’ says Michael. ‘I also keep our members up to date about projects that might interest them and, of course, promote any opportunities available via Spark and through CEES.’
‘Sometimes, our members have chance to attend Spark-led workshops,’ Michael adds. ‘This a great way to develop their business skills and knowledge. It’s also allowed me to do lots of networking, and strengthen the society’s connection with CEES. For example, we’ve just run our first workshop for Student Enterprise week at the university alongside CEES, with Dr Richard Tunstall’s invaluable support.’
Applying entrepreneurship to academia
Many of the students in the Entrepreneurs Society are studying in the business school. Yet members come from faculties throughout the university, from biomedicine to humanities. ‘Enterprise is a state of mind, so entrepreneurship is for anyone,’ says Michael. ‘Through the society, I attended a photoshop training course, where I gained skills that enhance the maps we use in my history degree.
That’s just one way to show how we’re reaching people who might not have realised the value of an enterprising approach. It helps them see their studies in a new way and make their academic knowledge accessible to a wider audience.’
‘An entrepreneurial mindset supports any CV and boost employability, too,’ Michael adds. ‘Students don’t have use their enterprise knowledge to grow a business ideas – they can also apply their experience in employment. With this, I’ve seen students consider different career plans and renew job searches with fresh confidence about the wider skills they have to offer.’
Finding a place to explore business interests
Michael is working on his own business idea. However, he hopes to develop this alongside his role as society President and his postgraduate history study at the University of Leeds.
‘The university is the right place for me to explore a business idea, thanks to the huge opportunities we have on campus to build our profiles,’ he concludes. ‘The beauty of the Entrepreneurs Society is that I meet so many students with similar stories. They’re in an academic field but want to pursue entrepreneurial interests, and the university gives them so many opportunities to do that.’