WBS alumni Justin Farrance and Alexander Lempka, who returned to address students as the winter graduation ceremonies

Building success: Studying at Warwick Business School laid the foundations for Justin Farrance and Alexander Lempka to learn and grow

Graduation is a momentous occasion for all students at Warwick Business School.

But as the guest speakers at the School's winter graduation ceremonies showed, it is not the end of their learning journey or their connection with Warwick.

Justin Farrance studied BSc Management as an undergraduate at WBS before embarking on a career as Senior Manager and the first Global Ambassador for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion at international law firm Allen and Overy.

Justin said: “When I left Warwick, I thought a lot of my learning was done. What I have come to realise is that my time at Warwick laid an incredible foundation for me to continue to be challenged, and to continue to learn and grow. In many ways, that is even more valuable.

“Another really exciting thing that Warwick has given me is access to an incredible global network.

“I travel a lot for work and most countries that I travel to, I will bump into someone who is a Warwick Business School alum or can arrange to meet someone from my network while I am there.

“I was on a flight to New York recently and someone in the row behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said they recognised my face. They studied at Warwick too, so we spent the flight talking about our experiences, which was nice.

How to promote diversity and inclusion

Justin also launched GROW Mentoring during lockdown. The charity has brought together mentors from more than 250 law firms, 70 in-house legal teams, and 15 barristers’ chambers globally to provide one-to-one advice and support more than 4,000 aspiring lawyers from diverse backgrounds.

Justin said: “Diversity and inclusion has always been really important to me and I think it should be really important to all businesses.

“It is something we should value because it is the right thing to do, but it is also important that executives understand that there is a compelling business case for diversity.

“We can all do our bit to embrace diversity and inclusion. As those of us from diverse backgrounds climb the career leader, it’s important that we keep that door open for those who follow.

“It can be tough if you feel you don’t think you deserve a place in the room because you can’t see anyone else like you in it. We can all help to change that.”

WBS alumni Toyo Olowe and Alexander Lempka also returned to campus to speak to students at the graduation ceremonies.

Toyo, who studied a Joint Degree of BSc Law and Business Studies as an undergraduate, left her role at KPMG just before the pandemic, at which point her job offer at another firm was withdrawn.

So she embraced her love of drawing during lockdown and used it to launch her own modern art décor brand, Toyo Writes (TW).

She now counts art Hollywood actresses and Silicon Valley art collectors among her clients and The Telegraph included her in its Top 100 List of Female Entrepreneurs to Watch.

“What I learnt at Warwick Business School has come firmly into play in terms of understanding marketing partnerships and client engagement,” said Toyo.

Alexander studied BSc Management as an undergraduate and met his partner at WBS, where they had their first date in the university library, before launching climate-focused fintech firm Connect Earth. Last year he was named on the Forbes Social Impact 30 Under 30 list.

Alexander said: “It’s a great honour to be recognised by Forbes, but I never aspired to be included in that list. I think the important thing is to remember how and why you got there – by setting out to make a positive contribution and by doing something unconventional.

“Starting your own business is very difficult. It’s not for everyone and that’s fine. But if it’s something you want to do, it’s never too late.”

Further reading:

England rugby union international Maro Itoje graduates with MBA

Meet our Change Makers: Justin Farrance

Leap of faith takes WBS graduate from Big Four firm to start-up success