New Venture Finance: elective for MBA and MFin career growth

17 April 2024

The article at a glance

We meet alumni from the MBA and Master of Finance (MFin) programmes and ask them how choosing the very popular elective, New Venture Finance, run by Robert Wardrop, Management Practice Professor of Finance, has helped them develop and grow their career in finance and the fintech sector.

Category: Programme news

Understanding finance from a different perspective

Shruti Kumar.
Shruti Kumar (MBA 2019)

For Shruti Kumar (MBA 2019), an MBA had always been part of the career plan. After nearly 7 years working in Bangalore for Deloitte India, latterly in M&A Transaction Services, she was keen to find a route to pivot into working in a more international marketplace.

“I did most of my research online and chose to apply to Cambridge because the Business School seemed so firmly nestled within the network of the University of Cambridge. I saw it as the perfect way to branch out into different disciplines.”

Looking through the list of MBA electives on offer, Shruti wondered why New Venture Finance taught by Professor Bob Wardrop was so consistently popular.

“I had ruled out working sell side for my future career and wanted more active involvement driven by the growth of a company. I was keen to understand finance from a different perspective, so I signed up. As soon as I went to the first class it became clear why everyone enjoys the course. It is very challenging, but Bob Wardrop teaches with such spirit and enthusiasm. And he keeps it rooted in reality through his own experience as a founder and investor.”

Shruti is now Director of Finance & Commercial Operations at RegGenome, the spinout company established by Wardrop. A chance conversation by the coffee machine with Hunter Sims, Associate Director of Business & Operations at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), and a Cambridge MBA alumnus himself, led to Shruti informally working on the Regulatory Genome Project, which later developed into the commercial entity, RegGenome, by the end of her MBA year.

Shruti Kumar looks back on her MBA year as “one of the most brilliant and memorable of my life”. She remembers sitting in the New Venture Finance classes learning how to start seed financing a company and then growing it. “And now here I am right in that space as we look to grow RegGenome!”

I was able to convert the informal role into a formal internship and brought in one of my classmates. Then after the MBA I effectively created my own job. I could not have predicted this amazing career path in any way so the advice for any MBA student is to keep an open mind!

Shruti Kumar (MBA 2019)

Seeking a job in venture capital, landing at a start-up

Sarah Aulia Andriana (MFin 2021)

Sarah Aulia Andriana (MFin 2021) arrived in Cambridge after nearly five years working in finance for Unilever in Indonesia. “I wanted to learn about investments, so the New Venture Finance elective was a clear choice for me. My intention was to go on and get a job in venture capital.”

Then a friend from home who had recently co-founded a company got in touch. “The start-up was looking for a finance chief. I was not yet really looking for a job, but I did want to go back to South-east Asia for the next stage in my career.”

Sarah contacted Bob Wardrop for his advice. “He took the time to meet with me in person. And he told me the kind of experience I would get working in a small start-up would be quite different from that at a VC, but it would be good experience. As he put it, you can always get a job later at a venture capital company, but this is happening now!”

Since November 2022, Sarah has held the post of VP Finance at Biteship in Jakarta, Indonesia. A logistics aggregator with the aim of becoming the number 1 logistic solutions provider in the geographically fragmented Indonesian market, Biteship is currently in Series A funding talks.

The New Venture Finance course helped me to understand how financing works and gave me the bigger picture. And that helps me now as I present our company to potential investors.

Sarah Aulia Andriana (MFin 2021)

Pivoting into the impact sector from investment banking

Jobey Meacham (MFin 2021)

Jobey Meacham (MFin 2021) is full of praise for Bob Wardop’s gifts as a storyteller.

“It is a critical skill when it comes to fundraising. The company can have the best team and the best technology in the world, but it is no good unless you have a strong story for investors. I chose New Venture Finance because I wanted to learn about innovation. The teaching has the added benefit of Bob’s own experience of start-ups and alternative financing from the other side of the table.”

After several years post university in investment banking, Jobey describes the onset of COVID-19 as the wake-up call which led to him to apply for the MFin course.

“I realised investment banking wasn’t my passion and I wanted to pivot to more impact orientated work in the field of climate change. I was attracted to Cambridge by the strength of the university, as well as its reputation as a hub for innovation.”

While studying for his MFin Jobey got in touch with Cambridge Enterprise, which supports the university’s entrepreneurs, and attended one of their events. “I was the only MFin student there, the rest were from the cohort of MBAs. I remember being fascinated by some of the innovative financing coming out of the university, as well as the ideas.”

One of those ideas was Neutreeno, a deep tech spinout engineering value chain decarbonisation with science-based, data-driven intelligence.

“Most of my cohort were going on to jobs in asset management, investment banking or financial restructuring at the major consultancies. I had long conversations with Bob about the benefits and potential downsides of joining a start-up instead.”

Jobey is now deep in fundraising in his job at Neutreeno. “It is exciting but also very challenging. I have been given a lot of responsibility and am on the steepest learning curve of my life.” He remains in regular contact with Wardrop and recently introduced him to Neutreeno’s founder, Dr Spencer Brennan from the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.

I came to study at Cambridge Judge Business School just as much for who I would meet as what I would learn. And through that move, I gained the opportunity to work in an impactful way alongside some of the world’s leading scientists and engineers to decarbonise complex value chains on rapid emissions and climate change. You just have to grab the chance.

Jobey Meacham (MFin 2021)