IAE Graduate 2014-2015
"It was amazing to be surrounded by entrepreneurial-minded people"
After returning home to Jordan, Saida has started work as a Programme Manager at BADIR (June 2017). BADIR is an initiative led by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) that is designed to equip young Jordanian leaders and entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to strengthen and scale up their existing social change projects.
Saida Haddad gained her first degree in Business Information Systems at the University of Jordan in 2008. Following that, she built a broad range of professional experience that included team leadership, account management and events management. By 2014, her sights were set on entrepreneurship, so she began looking at the options available to her.
“I had always wanted to start my own business,” said Saida when we asked her why she chose to study for an MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at WMG. “My brother-in-law had studied at Warwick and told me many good things about his time there, so I was interested in the University.
“Then, when I looked at its Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme, it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for – particularly the way it takes students right through the entire process from generating a new idea to launching the enterprise.”
So did the course live up to Saida’s expectations? “It exceeded them to be honest,” she said. “Each module gives you practical tools that you can use right away to develop your idea: generating a business model, market research, planning, managing innovation, project management, controlling finances and more.
“As well as that though, I learned a lot by working with the other students on the course as we carried out group exercises and case studies. It was amazing to be surrounded by entrepreneurial-minded people who would share their experiences and support each other. I can’t describe just how much I got out of that.”
Saida mentioned that she joined the programme with no fixed idea for her own business start-up. However, 50% of the final grade is awarded for a project, running concurrently with the module studies, to develop a business idea to the point of being able to launch. So how did she tackle this?
“My supervisor was brilliant. He really challenged me to research markets I understood and seek out something genuinely new and original. I had an issue with a laptop, and I realised that many other people around the world would have a similar problem with their electronic device, be it a laptop, phone or anything else. After a good deal of research that included interviewing customers, I realised that I could solve the issue and in doing so, create a strong business concept.”
A life-changing experience
Saida completed her project and her course in September 2015, after which she considered returning to Jordan to continue the development of her business plan. “After talking with staff at Warwick though, I realised that it would be better to stay in the UK to progress my enterprise through to launch.
“The University supported me to make my application for a UK Graduate Entrepreneurship Visa that would let me stay here. I put together a detailed proposal and presentation, then pitched it to a team of panellists. I’m delighted to say, thanks to Warwick’s help, that my visa has been endorsed.”
Now busy finding somewhere to live and working to make her enterprise a reality, Saida reflected on her experience at WMG. “One thing I enjoyed was being part of a diverse international group of people who came from many different cultures. It was fascinating and made me think differently about work, business and the world around me. I would call it a life-changing experience!”