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From the Brunel MBA to Aerospace Entrepreneur

Laurence Barrett

The Brunel MBA was instrumental in my transition from Aerospace Engineer to Aerospace Entrepreneur - it gave me the confidence to evolve my 15 years of technical experience into a viable business

Laurence, Alumni

CEO and Founder, Barrett Aerospace PTE LTD

Business Administration MBA - 2013

From Singapore

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

The Brunel MBA (Aviation Management) was instrumental in my transition from Aerospace Engineer to Aerospace Entrepreneur. It gave me the confidence to evolve my 15 years of technical experience into a viable business. My career now excites me, and five years on, I’m now traveling between continents on the completely new business projects that I’ve created from scratch. The MBA provided me with the additional tools that I use to manage and control the business. The International Business element of the MBA was extremely useful in determining the location my start-up being in Singapore.

What does an average day at work involve for you?

Firstly, as an entrepreneur there isn’t from my experience an average day, which is exactly what attracted me to do this! This career path definitely isn’t for everyone, as each day is unpredictable and sometimes keeps you working long into the early morning. However, one thing that remains a daily constant is the need for resilience, stamina and patience. Some tasks are easy, most are straightforward, but others require dogged persistence, even to get to a baseline solution.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

As an entrepreneur wining your first contract or paid job is one of the most satisfying experiences. For me, it’s not actually about the size of the reward, but it’s the confirmation that others now value your contribution and are prepared to pay you directly for it. This means that you need to value yourself. It pays to challenge yourself always. Elon Musk has often suggested that if you don’t feel the fear inside your stomach, or ‘butterflies’ when you’re deciding to do something new, then you’re not challenging yourself enough.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

Being London based, as a student at Brunel, you will experience a rich cultural diversity, no doubt interacting with students from all over the world. Although my desire to become an entrepreneur isn’t new by MBA standards, while studying at Brunel I received a unique global perspective. Discovering how different cultures think opened my eyes to the notion of becoming a global rather than a local business.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

Brunel has always been high on my list of favourite UK universities. As an engineer, I was always fascinated by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the role he played in influencing the world that we know today. I therefore remain appreciative for my time at Brunel University and would certainly recommend it to others.

What is your best memory of studying here?

I most fondly recall the general excitement and positive energy that I experienced during the first few days of the MBA degree. There was an unusual mix of euphoria coupled with foreboding that had everyone hyped. Your senses tell you that you’re on a new transition in life; a sort of evolution from caterpillar to butterfly is my best analogy. Sharing this ‘awakening’ with the other students, each with their own unique take on evolution is by far my best memory.

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Use your time at university to investigate everything that you want (or think you want) in a career. This is your sandbox to try, to fail, to rule-out, but to eventually succeed in finding your true calling. This will require a lot of self-determination and flexibility, to find time around your busy study schedule. Take full advantage of work experience opportunities, whether as a third year placement, or just over the summer. Use some of your time to determine your passion, and then you’re more likely to end up in a job or a career that best suits you.

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

You should try to follow your passion in whatever you do, or better yet make your passion your career. At university you will meet with other interesting people who share your passion. When you collaborate with such people then you can really soar with almost infinite opportunities. Be open to differences, heated debate and criticism; this is a necessary path to a better qualified degree. Focus your efforts to make your passion real, so target that job that will allow your career to grow and flourish.