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Learn how Purchasing and Supply Chain Management MSc students put their skills into practice

Learn how Purchasing and Supply Chain Management MSc students put their skills into practice

My name is Ashar, I’m 22 years old and I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. I made the decision to move to London to continue my higher education. I just completed my Masters in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management here at Westminster Business School, University of Westminster.

Ashar Raffiuddin

Ashar Raffiuddin

I have always enjoyed looking into profitability for a business and how to add value.

While studying for my Masters, I have done an internship with UK’s Most Innovative award-winning, start-up company and crowd-funded Business of the Year called Lovespace, which is UK’s first storage by the box service. This assisted me in learning and developing some of the essential skills required to manage a successful business. Although I found the internship myself, the Business Experience Team (BET) at Westminster Business School really helped guide me with improving my CV and interview preparation.

What is your business and what inspired you to start it?

My business is called The Velocity watches. I have a big love for watches and I see a lot of people wearing watches with the usual Roman numerals or no numbers.

I wanted to buy myself a watch that had Arabic numbers with simplicity and good quality but I couldn’t find one so I thought why not make my own?

I have always wanted to start up my own business but I knew it had to be unique. With the knowledge that people love travelling to Arabic speaking countries like Dubai and Arabic being one of the oldest languages in the world I thought it would be a unique concept with a large potential market. I also loved the idea that it would allow people from outside of Arab culture to embrace it more.

Most watches are expensive and this is one thing I didn’t want my watches to be. The affordability aspect was an important part for me and this is why the straps are interchangeable and can be done by yourself without having to go to the shop or it being a complicated process.

My target audience are people who enjoy and embrace different cultures. Funnily enough, my first customer was an English woman who was around 45 years old and was tattooed all over. It kind of shocked me at first that she saw it as something different and unique but at the same something she would wear.

How has your degree helped you launch your business?

My time here has been an amazing experience. The whole reason why I chose Purchasing and Supply Chain Management MSc is because it is the bloodline of any business and includes how you manufacture your product and much more. I learned a lot of things such as the core of business, logistics operations and how to utilise and optimise physical modes of transport and shipping. Before starting my degree I assumed that the most cost effective transport methods was shipping but now that London and China have the first railway link it will increase London’s economic power and may change the way goods are transported by freight trains.

This degree has assisted me to catch up in areas that I was lacking knowledge in. For example, I was generally poor in finance but as part of this Masters degree, I pushed myself to learn everything needed and can honestly say that I’ve now improved. My first module here, “Financial Analysis for Managers” further developed my business knowledge and taught me about how to focus on the key financial concepts of running a business. Another module that was useful was the law module (“International Aspects of Business Law”) as it assisted me in learning more about my business such as trade laws when shipping from China to London.

The best module however, was “Purchasing Management” as I can apply its concepts every day. I feel that the whole concept will help me get into Selfridges who I have a meeting with soon.

The All Black Falco

The All Black Falco

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in starting up your business?

As my brother is established in the UK, he helped me set up the business and offered some guidance but after a while, I had to manage it all alone: the business itself, running the website and Instagram, studying and working too. So the biggest challenge was managing my time.

The main thing about juggling your time is making sure you divide up your time in the best way that suits you. Another thing is to remember to prioritise, for example, this last month I had to focus on my dissertation so my business had to take a back seat and sometimes this is necessary. Also if you are enjoying what you do that makes it much easier!

Do you have any tips for students who are thinking of starting their own business?

  • The best thing for anyone not just business people is to grow your network.
  • If you have a good feeling about something go for it don’t worry about what people say.
  • Get a mentor! Anyone who inspires you could be a mentor. Unfortunately I didn’t have one, but I regretted not asking my professor Dr Hussian. At the end of the module I told him about my business (and he said I should have told him earlier) and in just 15 minutes he gave me such valuable advice.
  • Read! I never used to enjoy reading but I learned to like it. I started with smaller novels in genres I enjoy such as science-fiction then I started to read bigger books that were more business focused. So now on the train instead of wasting time on my phone, I read my book. If you don’t like books, watch positive, inspiring YouTube videos.
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