Kate Rand and Turkan Farzaliyeva won 30% scholarships

Breaking glass: Kate Rand (left) and Turkan Farzaliyeva won WBS Inspiring Females Scholarships to study the Executive MBA

Executive MBA entrepreneur Turkan Farzaliyeva believes winning a WBS Inspiring Females Scholarship is hugely meaningful for a woman striving to succeed in the male-dominated fintech industry.  

Turkan is one of four women on the business school’s Executive MBA programme to be given a WBS Inspiring Females Scholarship.  

The others are Kate Rand, Chief Operating Officer at luxury ecommerce site Threads Styling; Ramat Babah, Treasurer at asset manager FBNQuest Merchant Bank; and Nicola Binks, Head of Commercial Ventures and M&A at facilities management FTSE 250 firm Mitie.  

Each academic year two women on the Executive MBA (London) and two on the Executive MBA at Warwick meet the eligibility criteria to win 50 per cent off their tuition fees as part of the School’s drive to encourage more women into leadership positions.  

For the Inspiring Females Scholarships, WBS has partnered with the 30% Club, a campaigning group backed by more than 1,000 board chairs and CEOs from 20 countries aiming to have 30 per cent female representation on boards and executive leadership teams.  

To be eligible to apply women need to fulfil the admission requirements and work experience needs for the Executive MBA. They can then submit a scholarship application by demonstrating business excellence and showing they are inspiring role models. 

Turkan, who is the CEO and Co-founder of payments firm PayRiff, said: “The significance of this scholarship for women cannot be overstated, particularly given my role as a Courageous Woman Ambassador as part of the European Union’s ‘She is the Power’ project.  

“Being selected for a WBS Inspiring Females Scholarship is immensely meaningful to me, especially as I strive to serve as an inspiration to girls aspiring to develop their companies and pursue their dreams.  

“Receiving the scholarship came as a pleasant surprise to me and serves as a significant motivator, spurring me on to extract even more value from my studies.  

“As I find myself managing a company, I'm eager to delve deeply into the realms of management and business to enhance my skills and knowledge in these areas.”  

The 32-year-old, of Azerbaijan, founded PayRiff three years ago and now has a staff of 30. With good command of the English language, Turkan wanted to study an MBA in the UK to help her expand PayRiff into markets beyond her homeland as she looks to build a global company.  

“We've developed more than 20 features and expanded our operations to three countries,” she said. “From the inception stage, we've had investors who believed in our vision.  

“It's been a journey of dedication and perseverance, and seeing our team grow while maintaining our commitment to innovation has been immensely rewarding.  

“Our focus remains on sustainable growth and delivering value to our customers, and we're excited about the future prospects of PayRiff as we continue to expand our reach and enhance our offerings in the fintech landscape.”  

Developing leadership skills on the MBA

Kate, of London, believes the scholarship is incredibly important and feels the MBA will help her develop her leadership skills as her ambition is to head up a business.  

“It will be hugely helpful in providing access to the Warwick network and the 30% Club network and therefore opening up opportunities for mentorship and contacts to progress in a career,” said the 35-year-old.  

“The scholarship also helps to provide access to the MBA, which is not always accessible to women because they are often in less well-paid positions.  

“Also, a decade or two ago it was not as clear that leading an organisation would be an option for women when trying to decide what to do after school, so many did not take that opportunity to study subjects like business. So, having this scholarship really helps women catch up and pursue careers they once never dreamed possible.”  

Kate did not study degree level or higher after school, instead moving into the hospitality industry. But thanks to her problem-solving skills she ended up being responsible for 12 bars, around 120 staff, and £10 million in revenue.  

She then went on to take various roles in the tech sector leading internal services. Her most recent business is Threads Styling, a viral luxury personal-shopping service that has grown rapidly through social media channels like Instagram, with the promise of delivering to shoppers' homes all via WhatsApp. 

“In the last four years at Threads I have gone from Vice President of People to Chief People Officer to Chief Operating Officer,” said Kate.  

“Because I work in the start-up space, entrepreneurship is of particular interest to me, and WBS has a specialism in this which caught my interest.  

“I am at a point in my career where I have gained a breadth of experience across the start-up and scale-up space, but in order to progress I need the skills and knowledge gained from studying business.  

“My hope is to get a role as a CEO next in a smaller business and build on my experience. The MBA and scholarship are a huge part of that.”