Essex Business School Successful Futures Conference 2022

Join us for the Essex Business School Successful Futures Conference 2022. This year's theme will explore Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Welcome to the Essex Business School Successful Futures Conference 2022. This is the seventh year that our undergraduate careers conference has run and every year we cover a theme which is topical to the contemporary graduate employment landscape. The 2022 conference theme is Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Entrepreneurship is the process of building something from nothing and in a post-Covid 19 world, innovation is driving change and leading to more people building a career out of their interests and skills from scratch.

Join us to hear from entrepreneurs, innovative business leaders, Essex Alumni, Essex StartUps and angel investors and find out how they turned their ideas and passions into viable organisations and made a difference.


Register now on CareerHub

Event speakers

Lisa Perkins, BT Adastral Park and Research Realisation Director

Lisa is director of Adastral Park and Research Realisation in BT’s Technology division.

She is building a rich and diverse technology ecosystem at Adastral Park which maximises the opportunities to find the best innovative solutions to real business problems. She is accountable for showcasing the world class innovation and research at the Park, collaborating with customers to ensure we find relevant solutions to their needs. Lisa leads on down-streaming innovation and research to derive value for the business. She manages key partnerships with world leading universities in conjunction with the research programmes to encourage and develop premier class expertise. She actively promotes and drives an education enrichment programme, working with schools to encourage children and teachers to develop a love of technology, thus stimulating skills for the industry. Lisa has direct leadership of research into both home entertainment and future industry / smart technologies.

Lisa is chair of Tech East, chair of the University of Suffolk DigiTech Centre, a board member of the Innovation board for NALEP, a board member of Productivity East, Vice chair of East Suffolk Council Community Partnership Board and a trustee for Lapwing Education. Lisa is a visiting professor at the University of Suffolk.

Ollie Bourne and Eliot Wood, Co-Founders and CEOs of WYSPR

The world’s only Friendvertising and social data collection agency. 

WYSPR's bespoke crowd-promotion service provides a data driven alternative to Influencer marketing and market research, harnessing the power of the individual to promote your brand and collect data in the most authentic manner possible.  

Ollie Bourne and Eliot Wood graduated from Essex Business School in 2019 with BScs in Business Management (including Placement Year). They started WYSPR on a shoestring in their bedrooms while working away on their placement year and after impressing several rounds of funding opportunities, including those offered by Essex Startups and Angels@Essex, they successfully secured a huge £450,000 to take their business to the next level.

Eliot Wood (Co-founder)

Eliot has 6 years of B2C and B2B sales, with 4 of those years in Strategic Accounts at TransPerfect as a Senior Client Services Executive. He worked with the companies’ largest clients (CRO’s and Banks) to create solutions that could handle and scale high volume translation requests. Eliot received a 1st class dissertation for his research on Authentic Influence on social media and will be giving a Tedx talk on Web 3.0 and the metaverse in Q2 2022.  

Oliver Bourne (Co-founder)

Oliver has 6 years’ experience in project management in Branding & Marketing. At his time in the city working at TransPerfect, he specialized in market research projects and led the integration of machine learning technology for the department. Oliver achieved a 1st class BSc Hons in business management along with a 1st class dissertation on consumer behavior, online communities, and brand cults. Oliver also writes about social media, youth, and meme culture gaining thousands of readers and several academic citations.


Steve Pyer, Spin Scooters

Spin is one of the leading micromobility companies and a unit of Ford Mobility. They currently operate dockless electric scooters on campuses and in cities across North America and Europe. Spin has been recognised for launching the first stationless mobility program in the United States and was instrumental in crafting the world’s first mobility permit system.

As a technology company that powers individual mobility for the benefit of all and strategically collaborates to reshape policy and redesign urban life, their mission is to create a world full of 15-minute cities—and to bring those cities to life by moving people freely through their streets.

Steve will present: Introducing sustainable transport options to cities

Steve Pyer, Country Manager UK & Ireland at Spin

Steve is the Country Manager of Spin Mobility in the UK, having started in September 2020. He is tasked with working with cities to deliver successful e-scooter trials in line with DfT outcome measures.

Steve has had a varied career, but developed his passion for micromobility after joining the London Cycle Hire Scheme just before it launched in June 2010. Steve spent seven years in a variety of roles at the organisation, shaping, improving and innovating the scheme, while it expanded from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes and passed the 50 million journey milestone. Steve has also led dockless bikes with Chinese Unicorn Mobike and e-bikes through Ride On, a Spanish start up now working in Dundee and Leicester.

Gillian Fawcett, Co-Founder of Public Finance by Women (PFW)

Gillian is a co-founder of Public Finance by Women (PFW), a non-profit international organisation focused upon supporting women working in public finance to fulfil their career potential by providing mentoring and other support, as well as promoting the advancement of gender equality. She currently juggles this position with freelance consultancy in public policy, strategy and finance.

Previously, she was head of international at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) responsible for leading CIPFA’s international strategy including thought leadership, research, products and services and international advisory for finance professionals working in public services around the world. Before joining CIPFA, she held a number of positions including head of public sector at ACCA Global, senior fellow within the organisational development and policy team at the Office for Public Management (OPM), head of policy at the Audit Commission and head of finance at the Scrutiny Unit in the House of Commons.

In January 2019 she was appointed as a member for the Cifas local government anti- fraud and corruption advisory board and joined the board of Friends of the Earth Charitable Trust in February 2019. She was a member of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA) public sector committee for nine years and former member of Accountancy Europe, public sector committee from 2009 – 2015. She was also treasurer and chair of the Finance and Fundraising Committee for Freedom from Torture for five years and vice chair of the Macro Economic Committee for the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP). Prior to this she was treasurer for the Legal Action Group (LAG).

David Solomons, Eastlight Homes

Eastlight Community Homes is a vibrant, resident-led housing association for the East of England. Their approach to community projects is innovative and collaborative making them not your average housing association!

David will present on Innovation in Business, how it is important for even established businesses to continue to innovate.

Eastlight All In Programme

As the biggest community gateway housing association in the country, Eastlight is pioneering a ground-breaking new approach to community empowerment.  We have created All In, the UK’s first community incubator – a major new innovation programme that will bring our communities together to tackle the big social issues that matter to them.  

We are involving hundreds of people from across the community in identifying social problems and coming up with ideas. After that, we are going to create teams of local people and pay them to work full-time for a year to develop innovative new projects and services that tackle these social challenges, from mental health to social isolation to opportunities for young people.

David Solomons

Born at the tail end of the Swinging Sixties, David grew up in a bucolic country village near Oxford before moving north to study Economics and Statistics at the University of Manchester, and then south again to do a Master’s degree in Film at Goldsmiths College, London.

Maintaining parallel careers in film and business, for the latter David specialised in business improvement, working for a huge spectrum of different organisations across the public, private and third sectors: the Ministry of Defence, Ernst & Young, the Financial Services Authority, Diageo, MI5, HM prison service, Turning Point.

For the past decade, David has focussed on business analytics, particularly in the housing sector, first at London’s Peabody housing association, and now as Head of Programme & Research at Eastlight Community Homes, where he has helped to set up its innovative new All In community development programme.

David lives in Hackney, London, listens to a lot of music, and likes his martinis very dry.

Zoe Garshong, Essex SU President 2016-2018 and Founder of Ms Independent

Zoe is an experienced social entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organisation management industry and in Higher Education. She is Founder of Ms Independent, a social enterprise aimed at closing the gender wage gap around the world by empowering and equipping women with the tools they need to become entrepreneurs, investors and company leaders.

Skilled in Sales, Public Speaking, Management, Fundraising, and Time Management Zoe is a strong business development professional with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Essex.

Graduate Panel with Abel Akale and Elena Dirstaru

Head of Start-Up Support at the University of Essex, Andy Mew, will be moderating a panel with Essex graduates and entrepreneurs Abel Akale (BSc Computer Science, 2020) and Elena Dirstaru (Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies Bachelors through to PhD graduate).

Abel Akale

Hello my name is Abel - founder of ONEOFFNATURE.  
My journey to becoming an entrepreneur came about quite stereotypically, from a personal problem. From initially going to seek out a solution only to find that there wasn’t one. I had the option to either create a solution or continuously complain about how there’s a need and it’s such a good idea, I chose the first.   
My idea led me to study computer science at Essex, so I could be better equipped to create the platform I had envisioned. 
We can form strong bonds and a sense of self from the clothes we wear. For me, ‘wear and tear’ occurring in our clothing is symbolic of our personal individual paths, with breaks and rips a powerful visual testament to the memories we hold close.  
However, after over time wear and tear catches up to all of us and our favourite clothing pieces become less wearable. 
Today I’ll be discussing my journey in creating ONEOFFNATURE and the problems it solves. 

Elena Dirstaru




Andy Mew, Head of Start-Up Support at the University of Essex

Head of Start-Up Support at the University of Essex, Andy Mew and the team over at Essex Startups have helped countless students realise their entrepreneurial ambitions, including EBS graduates and social media trailblazers, WYSPR!

Andy will discuss entrepreneurship as well as how to approach start-ups and SMEs for graduate roles.

John Stenhouse, University of Essex Business Support Manager and Angels@Essex platform Manager

With five decades of business experience, accountant, managing director, company secretary, innovator, founder and investor, John is currently Business Support Manager at the University of Essex, University Enterprise Zone managing Space to Grow Investment Readiness Programme and Angels@Essex Private Equity Investment Platform.

John has led government funded business grant, investment and support programmes such as Business Links and Growth Hubs, was chair of the Growth Hub Network nationally and Chaired a HMRC Tax Practitioners Forum.

Formerly director of Foundation East, (an ethical lender to business) and previously Business Programme Manager at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and LEP.

He started his career in overseas banking, worked in public utilities and local government before moving into commerce in PLC’s, and SME businesses, then starting his own accountancy practice and investing into diverse business ventures. With a career spanning almost every sector, John brings a wide knowledge that he likes to share.