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How Cass Business School Connects Its 38,000 Strong Alumni Network

Alumni will help you find a job, apartment or school

Mon Nov 7 2016

It's not what you know, it's who you know.

That old adage often rings true for business professionals. After all, the network accrued at business school is considered to be one of the top benefits of getting a degree.

One region you may not have considered as a career destination is the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE is becoming a hotbed for Fortune 500 firms, as the Gulf states diversify their economy and welcome foreign investment.

If you do consider a move to the Middle East, an alumni network will be critical.

Alumni will help you find a job, apartment or school. More importantly, they'll help you adapt to a different culture.

That's according to Viola Polakowska, head of alumni relations for City, University of London and Cass Business School.

We asked Viola how Cass students can utilize its sprawling network of 38,000 alumni. And why Dubai is becoming a hub for MBAs. Read on for her responses.

What courses do you offer at the Dubai campus?

Cass established its presence in Dubai in 2009 with an Executive MBA program at the Dubai International Financial Centre, which accepts up to 50 students per year. We also offer two aviation courses in Dubai, the MSc Air Transport Management and the MSc Air Safety Management.

Do you see the UAE as a growth market?

There’s indeed further potential to expand in the UAE. Dubai is a growth market for education and City, University of London sees it as an opportunity for further expansion.

What’s your alumni engagement strategy for Dubai?

We currently have over 800 alumni living and working in the UAE, so it is a significant part of our alumni community in the [Middle East] region. We have such a diverse community, so the events we organize for alumni in the UAE are not very different to the events we would host in China or the US.

We host at least three alumni events a year. As the Lord Mayor of London holds the role of Rector of City, University of London, one of our events is around the Lord Mayor’s visit to Dubai in January. We also invite our alumni to the graduation ceremony in May and to the welcome the new student’s reception in September. This year, for the first time, we will be hosting the end of year alumni gathering in December and hope for a good turnout.

We are currently working with our alumni on setting up an alumni chapter in the UAE in order to have a group of alumni help us engage with our community on a social and professional level. Having people who are local and understand local customs is very valuable to the work of the alumni relations team.

What specific cultural differences do you have to be mindful of when operating in Dubai?

Our alumni community in the UAE is very diverse; it consists of alumni from the Emirates and the Gulf region, but also a lot of expats who work and live there. We always have to be mindful of cultural differences and local customs when organizing events in the UAE. We have to be aware of specific timings that are good for that region and specific locations that are good to hold our events.

One that comes to mind is that the weekend in the UAE starts on Friday and not Saturday like in the UK; we also avoid hosting events in the summer or during Ramadan. Also, at most of our alumni events around the world alcohol is available, but in the UAE you have to be aware that some people may not consume or want to be around alcohol. We have to make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks at our events and that alcoholic drinks are served only as per request, as we wouldn’t like to offend anyone. We have to be mindful and respectful of the culture in that region, and still provide opportunities for our students to network.

How helpful is your alumni base in terms of student recruitment? 

Alumni are crucial in helping us recruit new students to our Dubai programs. The word of mouth in the UAE is very important, therefore we rely on our alumni to be our brand ambassadors. We invite our alumni to open days to talk to prospective students about their experiences on the course, and how the programs have helped them progress in their careers. After all, alumni are in the best position to promote the program to prospective students.  

Are alumni equally important in terms of career connections?

The alumni community is vital in terms of career connections. With 38,000 Cass alumni in over 160 countries, the business school relies on our alumni in terms of elevating our brand and spreading the word about our institution. When our alumni move countries, they often contact the alumni relations team to put them in touch with some alumni ambassadors in the area they are moving to. They are looking for a group of like-minded people who will welcome them when they arrive. 

Student Reviews

Bayes Business School




On Campus

Best Journalism school in Europe

When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.




On Campus

Learning environment

The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.




On Campus


I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London




On Campus


The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.




On Campus


The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather




On Campus

The best university I’ve been to

The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.




On Campus

Bayes Business School

As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.




On Campus

Economics and Politics

Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.




On Campus

Clinical biology

I really like it it’s perfect for me with not too many people and not too few either. All the modules are amazing. I love the toy bar. I love all the societies that I’ma part of. Especially the colour Bollywood society