IAE Graduate 2012-2013
"The more you put in, the more you get out"
Having returned to her native France after her year at WMG, Anais Salson is now busy developing a new enterprise, Growing Pie. She took time out from her hectic schedule to talk to us about the business - and her experience of Warwick.
“It’s exciting to be getting the venture off the ground,” she said. “Every day is different and filled with new challenges. I’m constantly having to develop new skills. But what I learned during my time at Warwick has definitely made a huge difference. The course covers so many areas in just 12 months, and they’re all directly relevant to the real work you have to do when you’re starting a new business.”
Growing Pie is a collaborative platform that helps students find internships around the world. It also provides businesses with access to high-potential talent. Students can share experiences of their internships with the community – and once the site is complete, people will also be able to access valuable advice on a range subjects like moving to new country, finding accommodation and more.
Anais first had the idea for Growing Pie before she even came to Warwick, as she explained: “The concept came to me while I was studying for my MA in International Affairs and Business Strategies. As part of this, I took a number of internships in Australia and France. It became clear to me that there must be a better way to discover and learn about available internships, and the idea was born. But before I could successfully turn it into a business, I needed to develop my knowledge and skills.”
Anais won an Ambassadorial Scholarship from Rotary to study overseas and began to look at the options. “The UK seemed to be to be a great place to study,” she said. “There’s a strong entrepreneurial culture that I wanted to experience.”
She became interested in WMG after reading the alumni profile of another Innovation and Entrepreneurship student. “The course sounded just what I was looking for so I made contact with him and asked loads of questions. He told me about the course from a student’s point of view which was very valuable, and we’ve become good friends now.
“I also met the course leader and other staff and students at an open day. They took the time to explain things thoroughly and seemed to really care about ensuring I made the right choice. After that, I knew that Warwick was the place for me.”
On to the course itself then. Did it live up to Anais’s expectations? “To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, but what I liked most was that you learn by doing. You’re constantly putting things into practice and seeing how they work in real business situations. A lot of the lecturers work in industry, so you find out how things are at ‘the coal face’. What made the lectures different was that there was a lot of participation and interaction. We were all encouraged to contribute.
Making new connections
“One thing I didn’t expect was that WMG would be so international, with students from all across the world coming together to study. The ability to make connections and share ideas adds a lot of value to the course. It was a wonderful experience. My fellow students also helped me to create my logo and company name.”
After gaining her MSc with distinction, it was time for Anais to make a big decision: join a company as an employee or launch her venture. “Right from the time I began the course, I received help with my start-up idea from staff and students,” she said. “So when I left I was really motivated to launch Growing Pie. I returned to France and did just that, and it’s going really well so far.”
Before leaving us to work on her website, we asked Anais if there was one piece of advice she would give to anyone thinking of studying at WMG. “Jump in and embrace everything,” she answered. “There is so much you can get out of it, but you only get out what you put in. There are plenty of societies to join and things to get involved with – and you’re constantly surrounded by people with lots of energy, motivation and passion. It’s a great place to spend a year and I loved it.”