Over the past few years the Oxford Guild Business Society has accrued a number of glowing testimonials from members, sponsors and the press. Some of these are shown below.
We have worked with the Guild for many years now and we feel that the high quality service they have provided is second to none. It has been a pleasure working with such a keen and motivated team and they have made my life much easier when it comes to recruiting from Oxford
BP, Gold Sponsor
This is the first year we have partnered with the Guild and they are the first society in the UK we have ever sponsored. Our experience has been very positive and we have been helped immensely by the Society who have had a major impact on increasing our presence on campus at Oxford. Their knowledge of the campus is invaluable and they are always on hand to provide support and advice. I really have thoroughly enjoyed working with them this past year and hope to continue our relationship for many years to come
HSBC, Bronze Sponsor
Following our work with the Oxford Guild our application numbers from Oxford have increased by 20%
A major FTSE 100 firm
The Oxford Guild does some excellent work that is of huge benefit to the student body. It is really an institution rather than just a student society and it gives me great confidence in the continued quality of Oxford University students when I meet as driven and as talented students as those involved with the Guild
Sir Victor Blank, former Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group and member of the Council of Oxford University
Thank you again for organising the Bank of America Merill Lynch event at G&D’s and congratulations on the article that appeared about the Oxford Guild in The Gateway. You’ve clearly put in a ton of work to make the club viable again and to make these events happen. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by those of us who you¹ve helped as a result!
Michelle Sikes, Rhodes Scholar
Thanks to you and the team for organising the event last night – by all accounts it was really successful.
Deloitte, Silver Sponsor
The Oxford Guild Business Society organised a presentation for us to talk to students about the investment management industry. It was a very successful event as we met interesting students from a variety of degree disciplines. We’ve enjoyed working with Abbas and his colleagues, they’ve proven themselves to be enthusiastic and entrepreneurial.
Baillie Gifford, Gold Sponsor
The Guild has made a big difference to our recruitment efforts on campus and we really appreciate their hours of hard work they put into assisting us with our events and campaigns. We have been very impressed by the quality of service they have provided.
Rolls Royce, Silver Sponsor
A massive thank you for today – the afternoon tea was the best and most useful event that I have ever gone to at Oxford in two years and kudos for organising such a wonderful event. I found it really insightful and a great way to get a broader view of the many many options available in the city. The Guild's planned events for next term sound excellent I would love to attend as many of those as possible! I just wanted to add how keen I am to join the decision-makers of what appears to be the most dynamic and forward-thinking of Oxford's societies. I was very impressed by both the quality of the firms I visited today and the professionalism of the organisation of the event. I'm not ashamed to admit I'd like to join a winning team, and the Guild appears to be it!!
Exeter College, Oxford JCR President
It was a pleasure to speak to the Guild’s members and it is a very impressive institution with a huge amount of professionalism. These students are going to be future stars and leaders at the top of industries.
Theo Paphitis, Entrepreneur and former Dragon on BBC’s Dragon’s Den
The Guild is most impressive society of all those we work with in the country and we’ve been very impressed with our relationship over last 3 years. It is the society that kept us most up to do date and is the one that has helped us most and for that reason we will be continuing again with our gold sponsorship.
Oliver Wyman, Gold Sponsor
Guild press releases
Oxford Guild-ed youthOxford student Abbas Kazmi brought a prestigious but ailing business society back to life. Hannah Langworth finds out how he did it Abbas (second from right) with other members of this year’s Oxford Guild committee Abbas Kazmi tells me that it all started, as many things do, with some inspiration from a family member and a discussion with a friend. In his first year studying history at New College, Oxford, Abbas started thinking about possible career paths, particularly ones in business and finance. He began investigating the resources at the university to help him get started – and was disappointed by what he found: “What I had noticed, along with many others, was that there wasn’t as much guidance as we had hoped for.” Events offered by existing business societies tended to be focused around employer presentations, which didn’t give students enough opportunities to find out about whole industry sectors, or to talk to recruiters. So he thought he’d take action himself to change the status quo by resurrecting the Oxford Guild society, which he’d heard about from his uncle – a member around fifteen years ago. The Oxford Guild had been a large and thriving student organisation and, having being around for many decades, was one of the oldest university business societies in the UK. It had strong links with a range of commercial organisations, held a range of events and fairs, and even published its own career guides. However, from around 2005 the society had begun to decline, and by the time Abbas came up to Oxford in autumn 2010, the Oxford Guild was no longer an active presence at the university.
Once he realised that Oxford’s students needed a general business and finance society again, Abbas could have started from scratch and set up his own new organisation. However, given what he had heard from his uncle and others, he had a hunch that the Oxford Guild was worth saving. He was proved right: once the members of the newly formed committee started contacting employers, they were surprised by how much recognition and respect the society’s name commanded – and they even encountered a number of Oxford Guild alumni in the ranks of the investment banks, professional services firms and other organisations they spoke to.
But despite discovering that his society had a strong existing brand, Abbas still had to work hard to create a new infrastructure for the society from scratch and bring the Oxford Guild back to life. Forming a committee was an important first step – finding out that other students thought that resurrecting the society was worth a shot gave him confidence that he was working along the right lines. Under his leadership as co-president, the committee of 25 students spent the summer working on re-establishing relations with the Oxford University careers service, designing a new Oxford Guild website and logo, working out how to promote the society’s activities to other students, and, of course, getting the attention of graduate employers in finance, consulting and industry. Abbas highlights this part of their work as one of the hardest aspects of the project for him: “It was especially challenging coming home from the long hours during an internship to send emails off to sponsors!”
The hard work paid off: the Oxford Guild now has over 20 top-notch employer partners, including Bloomberg, BP, Jones Day and J.P. Morgan, and the society kicked off the academic year in style with a Deloitte-sponsored champagne, chocolate and baklava networking event to celebrate its relaunch. Over 350 undergraduates attended the party, making it the biggest event held by any student society in Oxford last term. The society followed up this success with events including a BlackRock presentation on the buyside and sellside sections of the finance industry, and a talk from Peter Cruddas, the billionaire founder of derivatives dealers CMC Markets.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Abbas and the society. Since its relaunch, the committee has had to deal with some significant challenges, including the last-minute cancellation of a venue reservation for a big event which, thanks to some quick thinking, eventually went ahead as planned.
In order to manage the society effectively, Abbas drew extensively on his experience of running other projects at school and university, particularly a highly successful Young Enterprise venture, and he advises other students looking to build a society to get as much organisational experience as they can. He also recommends that those running similar societies should think carefully about members’ needs (along with employer objectives) when designing events, rather than just duplicating the campus recruitment sessions (usually presentation-heavy) that employers organise themselves.
Next term Oxford Guild members will be treated to an informal “coffee and chat” evening with top employers at an Oxford ice-cream parlour, mock interviews with recruiters from a leading investment bank, and even a trip to Russia. Planned speakers include Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Made in Chelsea’s diamond entrepreneur Francis Boulle, and bearded business wonder Richard Branson.
Back to the future
Abbas is planning to stay involved with the society next year, but will inevitably start to take more of a back seat as his finals loom closer. But he aims to put a good succession plan in place – he always wanted the revived Oxford Guild to not only help current students and allow him to use his skills during his time at Oxford, but also to survive to assist further generations of Oxford undergraduates.
Abbas is currently planning to head into investment banking when he graduates,, but would eventually like to set up his own business – “something in the services industry”, perhaps to do with marketing.
Alongside his academic work, his involvement with the Oxford Guild and several other societies, he’s been co–President of QUAD, an ad agency run by Oxford students which gives students a chance to hone their skills by creating campaigns for other student societies and local businesses. So how would Abbas market what he’s managed to do since that first moment of inspiration? “I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. The highly positive feedback we’ve received from students, sponsors and the university is testament to this – we really have made a difference and offered something truly helpful.”
Resurrecting the Guild to its former gloryHow one Oxford student, disappointed with the lack of career guidance at the university, brought the once-prestigious Oxford Guild back to life MICHAEL YOUNG FRIDAY 08 JUNE 2012 As the UK’s largest and oldest student-run business society, the Oxford Guild has for decades been associated with a range of commercial organisations from investment banks to industrial firms.
With the aim of equipping its members with ‘the knowledge, transferrable skills, and networking opportunities needed to develop successful careers in their chosen area of the business world’, the positive praise and accolades the society has received throughout the years,along with the high ranking positions of many of its alumni, is testament to its success.
Until 2005 the Guild had its own offices on George Street, a commercial thoroughfare in the centre of the city, where it would host events and first round interviews with a range of global firms. A generous annual budget of hundreds of thousands of pounds enabled the society to throw events such as the main fairs at Oxford and publish its own career guides. In 1996 it almost merged with the illustrious Oxford Union debating society.
But at the turn of 2005 things changed: the once-thriving society split into smaller societies and, over the following years, declined until it was no longer an active presence at the university.
This continued to be the case for the next five years until 2010 when, in his first year studying history at New College, student Abbas Kazmi decided to address the situation. Along with his peers, he was struck by the lack of career guidance at Oxford. The work done by the existing business societies had stagnated and their events and offerings were not of adequate quality to meet demand. He did not approve of the way they were spending sponsor money on their own committees rather than on services for sponsors and members.
Kazmi decided he would take action to change the status quo, wanting to “offer something different”and set about resurrecting the Oxford Guild society, which he’d heard about from his uncle – a member some fifteen years before. He got together a group of keen and motivated students who shared his vision and sought support from the Oxford University Student Union, the Careers Service and the Said Business School. From there, the wheels were set in motion and the Guild’s progress has been rapid beyond imagination.
Today, the Guild has a 35-strong committee and more than 15 sponsors and 6,000 members, much more than any other society of its ilk across the country. While the past year has been “hectic but enjoyable” Kazmi is proud of the society’s achievements and attributes its success in part to support from his co-president, Adam Chekroud and vice-presidents, Jacqueline and Sam.
The Guild now holds a large number of events and activities for Oxford students ranging from presentations and speaker events to mock interviews, assessment centres, internship opportunities and the chance to compete in managing a virtual online portfolio.
Other highlights over the past year have included the champagne socials with Deloitte and Unilever (the biggest events held by any society in Oxford in the Michaelmas and Hilary terms), a huge buyside vs. sellside presentation with BlackRock, a banking afternoon tea for first years with nine investment banks attending, a garden social with BP and talks fromMade in Chelsea star and entrepreneur Francis Boulle and the society’s honorary President, Peter Cruddas, the billionaire founder of CMC Markets.
A 60-page careers guide is due to be published in the next month but the most exciting venture on the society’s horizon is the launch of a network for business societies, the National Union of Student Business Societies. The brainchild of Kazmi, the union is made up of one representative from each of the 24 Russell Group universities with the goal of creating a national network founded by student business societies for student business societies.
The network will support and represent the societies to help promote careers in the business world. The long-term vision is a thriving network of student-led business societies or groups in every university and college in the country, providing the essential information, advice and inspiration needed for young entrepreneurs within five years.
With the economic crisis, Occupy protests and current climate, Kazmi stresses the importance of promoting careers in the business world to young people to show them commercial careers in the right light. Society support will include training, advice and shared best practice sessions, annual society one-day bootcamps, a national mentorship scheme and link-ups with secondary schools. The NUSBS also plans to organise a yearly trip to New York, an annual conference and work together on a termly collaborative magazine.
The hard work carried out by the committee has paid off: the society has received glowing testimonials from both students, sponsors and others and helped one large FTSE 100 firm increase it applications from Oxford by more than 20 per cent. Featured as a ‘rising star’ in the Gateway National newspaper the Guild’s brand name and reputation are unrivalled, re-establishing itself as one of the powerhouse societies in the country. Its reputation is based on experience, expertise and in-depth understanding of both the university academic community’s and sponsors’ needs. With this illustrious history and a dedicated and motivated team with strong leadership at the helm, the Oxford Guild can only grow even more.
For more information visit http://theoxfordguild.com/
Student Advice from the Oxford Guild Business SocietyManaging the future, the Oxford Guild Business Society Committee
Find out how RBS is helping young entrepreneurs at Inspiring Youth Enterprise
How to deal with an increasingly competitive graduate market?
For several years now graduate recruitment statistics have continued to shock and roles are becoming more and more competitive. This has meant that ever increasing numbers of strong candidates are receiving rejections as companies raise the bar. According to a graduate recruitment survey from UK based High Fliers Research, the UK’s leading employers recruited fewer graduates than expected in 2012 and entry-level vacancies decreased by 0.8% compared with recruitment in 2011. The biggest cuts in vacancies in 2012 were at the accounting & professional services firms and the investment banks – employers in these sectors reduced their graduate intake by more than 1,200 places, compared with their original recruitment targets. Students from top universities across the country at being affected and at Oxford University some of them have decided that enough is enough and that things need to change.
The award winning Oxford Guild Business Society, Oxford and the UK’s largest and oldest student careers society, with over 8,000 current members and a six figure budget has made helping students to become stronger applicants a central aim. Incoming President Stratis Limnios had the following to say: ‘whilst work at Oxford can be terribly intense, students need to realise that they have to do more than just a degree in order to compete against the best job applicants from universities around the world. Extra-curricular activities, awareness of global affairs and honing of application and interview technique are critical. Gone are the days when you could waltz into a job solely on the back of a university degree; one needs to be increasingly proactive and the Guild aims to make this as easy as possible for our members.’
The Guild, who won the national RBS ESSA runner up prize for the best series of events in 2012, has been working hard to come up with an innovative and comprehensive series of events and services in order to make ambitious Oxford students as strong candidates as they can possibly be. This involves several approaches: Firstly making as many students as possible aware of the full spectrum of opportunities available to them, secondly connecting them with companies through more exciting events than simply presentations, thirdly training the students and equipping them with the skills they need to secure internships and jobs and finally a more bespoke individual service tailored to the students. The Guild has run over 100 events this year in a wide range of exciting formats including multi-firm speed networking afternoon teas, office trips to London, large scale networking events and interesting speaker events. Vice-President Rebecca Abrey believes that ‘it is key that students start thinking about their careers in the back of their minds very early on as that will put you in good stead. I got involved with the Guild in my first year and found it to be one of the best decisions I have made since coming to Oxford. The large committee is very proactive and welcoming and merit is recognised and rewarded. We work very hard but I am proud to have risen up quickly to now be very senior in this close-knit family and I hope to be able to help other first years to do the same!’
The Guild’s progress in recent years has been meteoric and they aim to continue to grow rapidly but at the same time maintain their high quality. The Society’s job is not only to hold events for our sponsors but also to act on an advisory basis. As students on campus the committee can help recommend the best courses of action for companies to take and knows what works and what does not. Speaking from the Guild’s HQ, Chairman Abbas Kazmi felt that ‘the key point is that we know this better than anyone else in the country due to the depth of experience we have working with a large range of companies and different industries. This gives us the breadth and depth that nobody else has. You need to run the Society like a company as we are such an enormous institution which does so much good work to help our peers. Our thousands of members are our clients, our sponsors and partners are our shareholders, and our events and services are our product offerings. We hope to continue to provide a stellar and highly professional service to both students and sponsors for many years to come’. With many exciting plans ahead we look forward to the Guild’s continued success. Watch this space.
Finance and business societies: get involvedFinbarr Bermingham explains why you should consider becoming a more active member of your university finance or business society this autumn Of the thousands of students that apply for internships or full time positions within investment banks this year, it’s reasonable to suggest that the vast majority will be a member of their university finance society. In order to secure a top position, it’s important to differentiate yourself from the field, which is why recruiters from top banks tell us all the time that simple membership may not be enough. You need to become active within the society. Some take an administrative position, others put themselves forward for presidency, while some may even start their own society. A few do all three.
Nick Griffin, Graduate Recruitment Manager at investment bank Macquarie, says: “By being an active member of the society you’re able to demonstrate a wider skill set in addition to your interest in the society itself; it will allow you to widen your network and provide you with a broader experience that you can discuss with potential employers.”
Nick’s sentiments are echoed by Emily Poole, RBC’s Campus Recruitment Manager, who tells The Gateway: “It’s rare to see a CV without a long list of society memberships these days. Being an active member shows employers that you have made an annual commitment and engagement outside of your day to day responsibilities at university. We understand the time, creativity and commitment it takes being an active member. Going above and beyond good grades is key in this competitive market!”
Start your own
When Abbas Kazmi started at Oxford, he joined societies for banking, entrepreneurship and consulting. He soon came to the conclusion that it would be better if students could pursue their interest in all of these fields under the umbrella of a single society, and decided to resurrect the Oxford Guild society. He’s since founded the National Union of Student Business Societies, a network linking all the Russell Group universities’ business and finance societies. Abbas, then, should know a thing or two about the benefits of getting involved.
“While on the committee,” he tells The Gateway, “you get to actually speak to the recruiters. You find out what their plans are for the coming year: what kind of people they’re looking for, what gaps they need to fill and in which regions. You can get application advice, and find out what the best course of action to take is, straight from the horse’s mouth.”
The Guild works with 20 firms in all, including top tier banks like Citi, Nomura and J.P. Morgan, and its relationship with each is symbiotic. Says Abbas: “We tell them what we think will excite students, in terms of events on campus. In return, they give us sponsorship, but also careers advice. So, perhaps we’ll hear that Citi is looking to increase their applications for sales and trading, for example; or that they’re looking for students with a second language.”
It’s certainly no cakewalk to get onto a committee (the Oxford Guild received about 400 applications for 12 committee positions last year), and the hard work really begins once you get there. But the rewards are clear. Last year, Abbas interned with Deutsche Bank and this summer he’s been interning as an oil trader with Glencore. “I think the recruiters were impressed at the amount of hard work we’d put in. I’d led a team, worked with other students, helped run over 70 events in a year, worked with 20 multinational firms – on top of my degree. It shows focus and drive, and the interviewers liked that.”
Rise to the top
Artjoms Vohmincevs is the president of Manchester University Trading and Investment Society (MUTIS). He, too, has seen the direct career benefits of being an active member of a university society, after a chance encounter with some fellow interns this summer at Citi. “There were two guys on my internship that recognised me from Manchester. They came up and told me that they’d got a place on the internship because of an event MUTIS had organised with Citigroup. The bank told them that they’d shown their commitment by helping out at the event, and invited them in for interview.”
But there’s more to society life than the access it gives you to industry professionals. The skills you pick up can be vital. “You obviously get to hone your leadership skills,” says Artjoms. “You manage a huge number of people. At an average meeting, there might be between 100 and 500 people present. You need to manage those numbers, find a place to put them all, and make sure they’re content. In dealing with sponsors, you also get to develop lots of different sides of your personality: negotiation, organisation and presentation, for example.”
So it’s clear that becoming an active member of your finance society can be a great way to develop your skills and further your career. And, at the start of the academic year, there really is no time like the present.
Oxford University societies win national awardsOxford Ice Hockey Trust and Oxford Guild receive awards at the 2014 RBS ESSA conference Stan Lalanne on Monday 30th June 2014
Both the Oxford University Business Guild and the Oxford Ice Hockey Trust have won awards at the annual Enterprising Student Society Accreditation (ESSA) competition, going up against 200 other societies from across the country.
The ESSA is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and describes itself as “a unique programme that is designed to recognise and reward the enterprising work being done by students who are members of societies.” The awards were judged by an independent panel of entrepreneurs, journalists and representatives from RBS.
The Ice Hockey Trust was awarded runner-up in the ‘Most Innovative Event’ category after having hosted a special charity event for Breast Cancer, run a successful 94th Varsity match, and established an annual alumni Varsity match which altogether raised over £7,500.
The Trust is currently a registered charity that became independent of the University in 2012.
Meanwhile the Oxford Guild was awarded runner-up for ‘Best Professional Development Programme.’ Commenting to Cherwell, Stratis Limnios, Co-President of the Oxford Guild, stated that, "Our successes are the direct result of the committee’s innovation, initiative and fact that they care the most and work the hardest."
Co-President Abbas Kazmi also praised the Guild's Committe's effort, saying, "It has been a truly amazing year and we look forward to continuing our success and work! We look set for another exciting year ahead so watch this space."
Over 300 students from 30 universities attended the awards. They were hosted by former Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt and the award presenters included the original Stig from Top Gear and Winter Olympic medallist Jenny Jones.
As seen in
The Oxford Guild has been in over 1000 newspapers, magazines, websites and radio and TV outlets in over 100 countries in over 5 continents thus far, INCLUDING:
AND MANY MORE IN NUMEROUS COUNTRIES ACROSS THE GLOBE.