Stephen Brown, HND Business and Finance, 1996
Business owner and director Stephen Brown came to the University of Derby (then Derby College of Higher Education) to study for an HND in Business and Finance. He later returned to the University to complete a Certificate in Management Studies and began an LLB Hons course.
He now owns and runs the business he founded: Euro-Projects Recruitment Ltd based in, Leicestershire offering specialist technical and executive recruitment to the engineering, manufacturing and technology industries.
What are you doing now; tell us about your role and your journey since you left Derby?
I currently own and run a small, specialist group of recruitment businesses focussed on helping engineering, manufacturing and technology companies find and recruit the best people to grow and improve their business. I started the business from my bedroom in 1996, shortly after graduating from Derby and today we employ over 20 people in new offices next to the M1 at Bardon Hill, Leicester.
What’s the title of the programme you studied and what year did you graduate?
I started off studying a three year HND ‘sandwich’ course in Business and Finance, at what was originally Derby College of Higher Education. The college gained University status about two weeks before I finished my studies which meant my certificate had the word ‘University’ on it.
The best feature of the course was that it required students to experience two placements in industry which gave me a real advantage as the experience helped me to secure a full time position at one of the companies - a medium sized engineering business - after I graduated. The company sponsored me to return to Derby part time to undertake a Certificate in Management Studies and the first year of an LLB Hons course.
What were the main reasons you studied the courses you did?
Friends and family who were self-employed were a big influence on me from an early age, so I had always wanted to have my own business. It was a natural step for me to study business, and then go on to set up my own company.
Why did you choose to study the course at Derby?
As soon as I visited Derby I knew this is where I wanted to study as it had a really good feel about it. Plus the culture of the course was excellent and largely driven by the two senior lecturers at that time, Tony Wragg and Aileen Hammersley.
How would you sum up the experience of studying at Derby?
The course was extremely vocational and practical and 20 years later I still find myself practicing what I learned or repeating quotes from my lecturers. Recently I found myself quoting my former marketing lecturer who said: “It’s customary to get the client’s name right!” to one of our junior consultants.
How did you find the lecturers and the support they gave you?
The lecturers were terrific, we all felt like one big family. The support was one of positive encouragement and cohesion, helping to develop the careers of me, my friends and peer group.
How do you feel Derby has helped your career to date?
The placement in industry was undoubtedly the most significant part of the experience in terms of propelling my career. Those students who were less fortunate in securing work placements at the time seemed to struggle more finding suitable employment when we graduated.
I feel very strongly that this was absolutely key to getting my own career off the ground and I make sure I offer at least one student placement each year as a way of giving something back.
My current placement student is studying BA (Hons) Business Studies degree at Derby and I also run a graduate training programme to develop talent within the business. One of our Senior Managers joined us on this scheme as a Derby graduate ten years ago.
What are your future plans?
My business aim is to continue to build Euro-Projects, by doubling its annual turnover of £4 million and staff of 20 people, over the next four years. On a personal level I like to take on new and unusual challenges. Over the last four years I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, trekked through the Himalayas and Sahara Desert, in 2009 and 2010, for UNICEF; and a 2011 cross-Channel row for the British Heart Foundation raising over £30,000 for the charities.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study at Derby?
Although it’s over 20 years ago since I left, the culture of Derby remains one of friendliness and support from both fellow students and staff. I’ve had students from other universities working for me and they don’t seem to speak as highly of where they studied as the Derby ones do.
I whole-heartedly recommend Derby to anyone based on my own experiences - both past and present.