25 year anniversary, Global Entrepreneurship week 2023 - Janet Furness

November 13, 2023, by aczht

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023 – Wendy Furness

Global Entrepreneurship Week, 13 to 19 November 2023, is a celebration of enterprise and entrepreneurial people around the globe. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the diverse and vibrant work that has been accomplished in the Nottingham University Business School, particularly as it’s our 25th Anniversary this academic year.

Wendy Furness, Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) and Honorary Fellow in the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Nottingham University Business School talks about how completing an MBA has helped her achieve her goals and helped others and the power of collaboration. She has also faced many challenges as a woman in business and talks about the importance of supporting and advising others. 

janet furness“We’re hearing a lot of bad news at a time of global conflicts, financial instability and the climate crisis. But Global Entrepreneurship Week is, for me, an opportunity to be optimistic and think about our direction of travel.  

“I was fortunate to be able to do an executive MBA at Nottingham University Business School, completing it in 2017. At the time I was a partner in a veterinary business. In 2011, we launched the largest veterinary multi-disciplinary referral hospital in Europe alongside our long-established farm, pet and equine practices. We had all the excitement and challenges that come with a growing dynamic business with multiple sites and teams. The MBA was a great opportunity to fine-tune some of the things we were doing within the business, from strategic decision-making to finance and marketing. The MBA was very flexible, and I was able to tailor it, so there was a balance of what was most appropriate for me as well as the business. There was a rapidly consolidating market at the time and the venture capital and private equity module was very useful. There were also opportunities to travel including a memorable and enlightening trip to New York and Washington, USA. 

“What stood out from the onset was that the quality of the teaching, which was outstanding. It offered the right balance of academic rigour alongside people who were working in practice in different specialities, bringing real-world experience into the discussions. This enthusiasm to share learning and make things practically useful continues to this day in the Business School and is a real attribute of the school. 

“My cohorts were interesting, and diverse and brought a level of expertise, challenge and shared drive to solve problems. There were some fun times in there too – enjoying things with colleagues makes a big difference. It was interesting that there was far more congruity in challenges that we saw in business despite the diversity of business backgrounds. We often started thinking an issue was unique to our industry before seeing the same themes repeating. I remain in touch with many of my fellow students to this day and it’s great to watch their career journeys.  

“Completing the MBA, as well as enhancing my skill set, enabled me to look outside my own industry and what motivated me generally. We all get introspective when we have worked in one type of business for some time. After achieving a business sale and exit, I am now in the early-stage investment landscape and helping businesses as they scale. Innovation is our future and those of us who have been on that journey can help in many ways to support the next wave.  

“I am now an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) and Honorary Fellow at Nottingham University Business School and am fortunate to be involved particularly with the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. During that time, I have met so many interesting people including other EIRs and the team at the Institute, but most importantly the entrepreneurs of the future. It is great to see other alumni supporting the Business School and we get a lot out of it too. There are lots of networking opportunities and chances to discuss things with like-minded people. That is what Nottingham University Business School does really well – creating communities of people who can work together and collaborate both during your time as a student and years later. Long may it continue.  

“Generally, within the early-stage business, I tend to look at investments in human and animal health, tech and green and climate change-focused businesses.  A slightly unusual combination, but these are where my interests lie and where there is a huge amount of work going on. There are many challenges for women being supported and invested in business and I am an advocate for working with them whenever I can. With some colleagues we have recently founded an Animal Health Angel Network – and as part of that we are signatories to the Investing in Women code.  

“Working in this start-up space gives you the chance to get a glimpse of the future. We are asking for change and solutions to the climate crisis – there are many businesses out there that have potential solutions and need the resources both financial and people to get these off the ground. The environment is fast-paced, stimulating and challenging in equal measure. We see the cost-of-living crisis and the need to stimulate the economy to provide jobs for the future and we need solutions to our changes in healthcare needs. The future is out there, just as we are often told, but not evenly distributed.  

“Being part of the University of Nottingham has been really important to me. The MBA improved, shaped and expanded both my skill sets and ways of thinking. It has given me a lot of opportunities and a really talented network to call upon. Alongside that is also the confidence to step into new worlds whether that be in mentoring, advisory or board capacities to help shape the future directions of fledgling businesses. There is so much coming down the line from the changes that we see in the rapidly evolving use of AI, to how we address the problems of today. It is a truly exciting time, and we need to align the right people who have entrepreneurial ideas with people who can help with strategy, structure governance and finance so that we can be catalysts for change and success. There is room for optimism and we can support entrepreneurship by the power of collaboration and shared goals.” 

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