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Entrepreneurial career success for Computer Science and Economics alumnus

Craig Powell

The thin sandwich course at Brunel, with integrated industrial placements, was ideal for me. This mix of theory and practice enabled me to enter the market with a very rounded skill set. I would recommend it to anyone.

Craig, Alumni, Undergraduate

Managing Director, Balloon One Ltd

Computer Science and Economics BSc - 1992

From UK

Previous Institution

South Downs College - A Levels

Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

I was sponsored through my course at Brunel by IBM and successfully landed a job with them when I left in 1992. After working at IBM for two years as a Unix Consultant, I moved to their arch rival HP where I had 6 very happy years working for their SAP Consultancy team. In my final role as Global Practice Manager for SAP Infrastructure Services I was able to travel the world, meeting some very interesting and inspiring people. In 2000 I decided that I needed to travel less and started my own eLearning company. Unfortunately, the dot com crash happened in 2002 and I had to reinvent the company. Partnering with SAP and their new product SAP Business One, I was able to grow an ERP consultancy business focused on supply chain companies. Today at Balloon One we have 40 employees located in 5 countries around the world.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I love the job because of the variety. Every day brings a new challenge and skill to learn. From contract negotiations to personnel issues. From customer meetings to supplier reviews. From high level strategy discussions to detailed problem solving. The role of Managing Director is hugely rewarding, as you coach and motivate your team to grow themselves and the company.

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

The highlight for me is helping people to develop. It gives me great satisfaction to see the graduates we employ develop into highly capable IT professionals. Having the structure of a company to facilitate and nurture talent is what motivates me the most.

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

The thin sandwich course at Brunel University, with integrated industrial placements, was ideal for me. I wanted to continue studying but also to understand the world of work. This mix of theory and practice enabled me to enter the market with a very rounded skill set. I would recommend it to anyone.

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

The regular work placements were definitely the main draw. The 6 months studying followed by 6 months in industry was an ideal combination.

What is your best memory of studying here?

Jumping the River Pinn and almost making it to the other side!

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

Put the theory into practice. Find a placement as soon as possible and push the employer to give you challenging work.

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

Work hard. It will be recognised.