Joe Drury (MBA 2021) and Dora Mocsinka (MBA 2021) are founders of Evertruss, a boutique strategy advisory studio based in Dubai, UAE. The company provides strategic advice and action plans for entertainment, culture, and tourism organisations.
A new direction with an MBA
Dora Mocsinka deferred her place on the MBA programme at Cambridge twice – and is very glad she did. It has proved well worth the wait.
“I was in the middle of a big project at consulting firm, BCG. The next year came the pandemic, and I was by then almost a project leader, so I waited again. But in 2021 I decided to really go for it. It was time to reflect what was next on my professional and personal adventure.”
Fellow classmate Joe Drury had come to a natural career break after nearly a decade project managing in China, first for The Walt Disney Company then NBCUniversal.
“My work in Beijing on Universal’s first theme park in China was completed. I was on a viable, exciting career path but I wanted time to step back and reflect before taking my next step.”
A change of location – Cambridge
The prospect of studying at Cambridge had been on Joe’s mind for a while. “I grew up in a small town in Montana. Our British neighbour was an undergraduate at Cambridge, so I knew quite a bit about it. Having been away so long in Asia, I was attracted by the idea of studying in the UK with a very international cohort.”
Joe had visited Cambridge as a teenager, but Dora’s first visit was when she came for her MBA interview.
“Like Joe, I grew up in a small town, mine in Hungary, but I have spent the last 7 years in Dubai. I love that Cambridge is a relatively small community and through the MBA you also have access to the wider University of Cambridge. You get such exposure to so many people from various fields in a short space of time. “
Joe chimes in: “Through rowing for my college I met a former clerk from Mexico’s Supreme Court and a PhD student in Irish Literature. Where else can you do that?”
The Global Consulting Project brings connection
Joe and Dora met a month into their MBA course and soon realised they shared much in common. “Dora was helping to build the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia while I was working in Asia during a dynamic time for the entertainment industry. I thought my background would be quite unique for an MBA student, but we had so many shared experiences.”
Although students can choose from a prepared list for their Global Consulting Project (GCP), they are also free to devise their own. Dora and Joe were keen to work together and came up with an approach which would build on their skill sets and test the first steps to setting up their business.
Dora had the idea to approach the CEO of Six Senses, the global boutique luxury hospitality chain which was expanding. “The initial conversation went smoothly and we managed to pull together an impressive team from our MBA cohort, who had the right experience to support the CEO with one of their priority agenda topics. Joe and I stayed in touch with the CEO following the project, gaining continuous inspiration for the next steps of our career.”
A business startup develops
The Six Senses project meant Joe and Dora spent a lot of time together, workshopping their personal and professional goals. A pattern began to emerge.
Dora was exploring how she could stay in consulting, and at the same time create the flexibility she dreamt about. “I loved my time at BCG, but I was beginning to look at my work life balance more critically.”
Joe admits he is always looking to take the next step out of the ordinary. “I was fascinated by Asia and went off to work there at the first opportunity. I love being in places and working in industries undergoing transformational change. And I could see an opportunity.”
Dora remembers the moment last May that Joe spelled out the concept that would become their company. “We were sitting on a Darwin College garden bench and Joe proposed an idea:
‘Can you just imagine if we combined our international strategy and project management backgrounds and grew our own portfolio of clients as a boutique consultancy?’
Dora’s reaction: “It felt like a bold idea – and a natural progression.”
Before sharing their concept, the pair first had to decide where they, and the company, would be located, analysing options of Singapore, Amsterdam and Dubai before settling on Dubai. “And not just because it was Dora’s previous base. It’s a region we both really believe in, undergoing tremendous growth and change.”
Next was a company name so that it could be registered. “We thought about calling it Cofete, after the beach in Fuerteventura where we first felt the aligning of our thoughts. It was such a dramatic setting everything seemed possible.”
Business School a rich ground for entrepreneurship
In the end, though, sitting around Joe’s family’s dining table in Montana, they chose Evertruss, symbolising the lasting bridge they hope to build with clients across geographies and cultures. Back in Cambridge, they discussed the company with their professors, Joe recalls.
“We were both doing the Entrepreneurship Concentration and Simon Stockley’s sessions on entrepreneurship gave us a great push. It was empowering to be able to test out our idea with Simon and other professors at the Business School and receive tactical advice. Everyone said ‘yes, do it!’”
“Neither of us was expecting such a personal and professional shift when we came to Cambridge, and everything has happened very fast. Support from the Business School coaches and Careers Team, among others, gave us great advice on how to manage our personal relationship alongside our professional one,” says Dora.
Joe looks back on one piece of advice in particular: “The network you build through the MBA tends to have a multiplier effect. We were warned that the problem is not necessarily getting work but having the capacity and resources to deal with the work you are doing.”
Looking to the future in Dubai
Now established in Dubai, Evertruss is expanding fast, and the company founders are already in touch with the CJBS Careers Team to offer opportunities for interns. And they have been enjoying meeting new people in Dubai while also maintaining a link to Cambridge.
“There is a very active Oxbridge alumni group here and they have really helped me to transition to Dubai. Some of the events and dinners make you feel like you are back at Cambridge!” Joe reflects. And we both feel that Cambridge has been the ‘extra push’ needed for our new path. “
And, as Dora puts it, “Our time in Cambridge empowered us to dream big and think of creative ways to make real-world impact”.