Changing direction

April 2, 2019

How Durham University Business School alumnus, Adeseye Lawal-Solarin, is working to build a positive future for young people in the UK. Here is his story

I was born and raised in a single parent, low-income household in Finsbury Park, North London. I believe the lack of male role models partly contributed to my search for affirmation. My search for an identity culminated in me joining a notorious North London-based gang and being stabbed in my chest at the age of 16. Thankfully, this experience was the wake-up call I required. I completed my A levels at Richmond upon Thames College and went on to graduate with a First in my Business Economics BA from the University of Leicester.

During the final year of my undergraduate studies, I decided that I wanted a career in either management consultancy or entrepreneurship. With this in mind, I enrolled on the MSc Management programme at Durham University Business School.

The modules equipped me with a robust understanding of the core functional areas of business, and the relationships that the Business School possesses with reputable management consultancy firms were immensely beneficial. The School’s Dragons’ Den competition and compiling a group business plan were also highly advantageous.

My dissertation explored different mechanisms for enabling UK-based social enterprises to grow to achieve higher social impact and enhanced commercial success. I was selected to present my findings at the Entrepreneurship Research Institute at the Technical University of Munich. After a phenomenal 12 months, my university experience culminated in graduating with a distinction degree classification. From there, I was privileged to undertake the role of co-founder and CEO at Mentor Dojo (formerly Young & Giving).

Mentor Dojo is a platform that utilises artificial intelligence to connect millennials from underrepresented backgrounds with mentors in a variety of industries to provide career advice and support. The inspiration for Mentor Dojo was largely derived from the challenging nature of my upbringing. I am immensely passionate about empowering young adults to pursue their career aspirations regardless of their socio-economic background.

The knowledge and insights gained at Durham have proved invaluable. Additionally, the brand equity associated with graduating from Durham University Business School has enabled me to build firm relationships with important stakeholders, such as investors.

The Mentor Dojo vision was officially birthed in January 2018. In the same month, we partnered with Accenture to organise a mentorship insight conference, which was a tremendous success and helped to propel our development. The sold-out event was attended by 150 students and featured panel discussions and keynote speeches from KPMG, IBM and Accenture. Since then we have received approximately 400 mentor and mentee registrations with users signing up from Germany, Italy, UK and Nigeria. In October 2018, I was accepted onto the Zinc VC Accelerator Programme, where I met my co-founder Sohail. With more than 20 years’ of software engineering experience and previous insights building multimillion pound businesses, Sohail is Mentor Dojo’s chief technology officer.

I would highly recommend Durham University Business School to anyone as it is one of the best choices you could ever make. The profound professional development gained through the exhilarating modules, compelling extracurricular activities and global alumni network are incomprehensible.

Durham University Business School

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