Ben Hunte

PG Cert Television Journalism, 2017

Ben Hunte is a BBC News Presenter and Journalist. Earlier this year, he became the BBC’s first LGBT correspondent and at 27, he is the youngest correspondent the BBC has ever had.

“Being the BBC’s first LGBT correspondent is an opportunity to change the face of LGBT news around the world. From podcasts and documentaries, to social media content, there is so much potential and I feel excited that the BBC has trusted me to make it all happen,” says Ben.

After graduating from City in 2017, Ben was hired by BBC London TV News and has since worked on BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, Channel 5 News and ITV News. Last year, he became the presenter of BBC What’s New, the BBC’s first TV programme and digital service for children in Africa.

“Coming up with original stories concerning under-reported groups got me my first break as a reporter for the BBC. My first story was an investigation into the lack of cleanliness in black barbershops. It was the first time an investigation like this had been done and the success of the story reflected that. People still stop me in the streets to tell me they saw it and were shocked by it.”

“I am most proud of a recent story I covered on the silence of black men, who have been abused as children. It was the first time any UK news had covered this topic and it gave such vulnerable men a chance to finally speak out.”

Ben remembers wanting to tell stories from a young age but he was unsure how to go about it.

“From day one on my course at City, I knew that I would get everything I needed from it. It was an incredible opportunity to network with professionals in the sector as well as a chance to secure work experience. Without City, I would not have secured my internship with BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire. Just a couple of years later, I am now taking on interns myself.”

Speaking of his hopes for the future, Ben says: “I have a lot of things that I would like to achieve in this role and I have time to do that. I’m a big fan of a side-hustle, so I am also hoping to start up something to help marginalised young people. It could be a mentoring service, a charity or a work experience organisation. I am not sure yet but we will see.”

Tamara Hasan

BSc Banking and International Finance, 2003

Tamara Hasan is the Co-Founder and General Manager of three medical clinics in Qatar. In December 2018 she was awarded the Entrepreneurial Award at the Study UK Alumni Awards in Qatar. In 2017, she was also named Businesswoman of the Year by the Qatar British Business Forum for her commitment to improving the access to quality healthcare in Qatar.

When a close friend suffered an injury and was unable to find a quality physiotherapy clinic in Doha, Tamara saw the need to raise the standards of healthcare. She took action and opened the International Physiotherapy Clinic in 2015. Due to its success, Tamara opened a second branch a year later and expanded further by opening a third clinic, the International Medical Centre.

“There are many rewarding aspects to opening your own business but with healthcare it is more tangible”, says Tamara.

“Knowing that the clinics have directly impacted the local community of Doha by rehabilitating people from various injuries, anything from minor to chronic, is hugely rewarding. These are people who previously travelled abroad for high quality care or lived silently in pain.”

“However, there are lots of rules, regulations and ministries to deal with. Often the information I need is not easily accessible and it has required a lot of hard work and patience to get to where I am today.”

Tamara graduated from Cass Business School in 2003. Her degree took her onto a successful ten-year career in banking, before she moved to Qatar.

“From a young age, my dad instilled in me the saying ‘education, education, education!’ It was this early education that enabled me to go on to study at Cass and set the foundations of my career in banking”, she says.

“I then took the opportunity to move to Qatar and achieve something totally out of my comfort zone. It has been a dream of mine to win the Study UK Entrepreneurial Award. Doha is my birth place, so to be able to give back to the local community and help improve people’s health in Doha has made it even more special.”

Lauren Le Franc

PG Dip Professional Legal Skills, 2017

Lauren Le Franc is the Founder of the Little Coffee Company, an award-winning sustainable enterprise that works in developing countries, such as Jamaica, to help female small-holder farmers build economic independence. Last year, she was awarded Inspiring Innovator of the Year and in February of this year, she was named by Forbes as one of the top ten women championing sustainability in Jamaica.

“Being a sustainable enterprise means we measure our success on social impact. People think we are just another East London trendy café but we are so much more. We focus our efforts on the ground, helping farmers in developing countries to produce more sustainably by arranging direct access to markets and funding. The Little Coffee Company is unique in that it falls into the ‘agri tech’ category, offering UK consumers the opportunity to connect with farmers directly,” says Lauren.

“I did not plan to set up a business, it really happened by chance. I was working for Redbull in Jamaica which opened my eyes to the importance of building relationships. I needed another source of income and so started learning about coffee farming. I saw that farmers were not being paid fairly and I offered improved pay and a transparent process. From there, I developed my own brand and the rest is history.”

Reflecting on her time at City, Lauren accredits to her degree gaining valuable transferable skills which have helped her throughout her career.

“The skills I learned at City, the support I received and the friends that I made all form a part of who I am today. I learned how to negotiate, how to be persuasive and how to work under pressure, all skills now valuable in my day to day life”, says Lauren.

“Being named by Forbes as one of the top ten women in sustainability has been one of my biggest achievements to date. To me, that was a surreal moment and I really am so humbled.”

Dr Jose Ignacio Valenzuela

MSc Health Informatics, 2006

Dr Jose Ignacio Valenzuela is an award-winning medical practitioner at the Fundacion Santa Fe De Bogota, Colombia, where he established the hospital’s Clinical Informatics department. He was awarded the Entrepreneurial Award at the 2018 British Council’s Alumni Awards for his work in improving access to healthcare for Latin American communities around the world.

In 2004 Jose founded Colelap, the first teleresearch platform in Colombia. He went on to implement and improve many other e-learning health programmes, including Doctor Chat, the first medical teleconsultation service for Spanish-speakers.

“My first job as a medical doctor in Bogota involved recruiting patients from hospitals across the city for a research study. I travelled all day from one hospital to another collecting patient records in paper format. It was cumbersome, costly and frustrating – the majority of records were either incomplete, damaged, contaminated or simply lost,” says Jose.

“Although internet penetration in Colombia at the time was only around one per cent, I received support to install internet in some of the hospitals and from there, successfully implemented the first telereseach platform in the country. Colelap went on to be used in industry for many high-scale research studies.”

Jose’s time at City proved crucial in managing the regulatory and legislative challenges that he experienced later in his career. He states that his qualification became part and parcel of his brand as an advocate for digital health.

Looking to the future, Jose highlights the need for further education in digital health in Latin America.

“The challenge for developing countries is having the experts that we need to move e-health forward. We have now created the first Master’s in Biomedical Informatics in Colombia, which this semester received the first cohort of students,” he says.

“The future (or better yet, the present) of healthcare is e-health. The current trend is to bring health to where the patient is located, rather than the opposite – made possible thanks to emerging IT like the Electronic Health Record, wearable sensors and more. Some alarming reports list medical errors as among the top five causes of patient death in hospital. So, e-health may not only be more convenient for patients, but can also be cheaper and safer.”

Yvonne Shashoua

BSc Industrial Chemistry, 1984

Yvonne Shashoua is a senior researcher at the National Museum of Denmark and a partner in the recently formed Velux MarinePlastic, which leads research on the breakdown of marine plastic debris to microplastics. She has been appointed a Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Conservation at New York University (NYU), which she starts in September this year.

“I have specialised in identifying the major degradation factors and chemical pathways of plastics since 2001, when I completed my PhD at the National Museum of Denmark. Society’s view of plastics has changed dramatically since the 1960s when they were considered fantastic and life-enhancing. Now, their reputation as pollutants dominates,” she says.

At City, Yvonne completed a year’s industrial placement at Kodak where she worked in an analytical laboratory as part of her four-year degree in Industrial Chemistry.

“My placement at Kodak was invaluable, both for giving me a taste of everyday life as a chemist and because I discovered the frustration of analysing samples without knowing where they came from and their significance,” she says.

After four years in industry, Yvonne joined the British Museum to research coatings and adhesives used to conserve artworks and museum objects. This later resulted in a PhD scholarship to conduct research into plastics. Today, Yvonne is applying her extensive research experience of how plastics break down inside museums to investigating how microplastics form in the marine environment.

Yvonne notes her proudest achievement to date as writing her first book (Conservation of Plastics-materials science, degradation and conservation), which distils knowledge about plastics from many specialisms. It is accessible to conservators, scientists and collectors and is used as a textbook for numerous conservation courses. She plans to prepare a second edition while at NYU.