Veda Tirumalareddy (MLitt 2010) may only have spent one year in St Andrews, but the experiences and knowledge she gained while in Scotland helped her create her successful travel company back home in India. Since then, the company has taken off and led to international recognition as a Finalist in the Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 (to nominate yourself for a 2017 Award, see the end of this post).
“Born and raised in India, I chose to pursue higher education in the UK. I completed a BA Honours in Business Studies from the University of Exeter and a Masters in International Business from the University of St Andrews.
The big draw of St Andrews for me, aside from being one of the top five universities in the UK, was that the Management School nurtures out of the box thinking while providing a strong academic foundation to make ideas commercially successful.
In 2010, after completing my Masters, I chose to explore unchartered territory and plunge head long into entrepreneurship in the Wildlife & Responsible Travel industry. My passion for wildlife and nature began early, starting with the many childhood trips I took with my father to the remotest parts of India.
When I began to write up the project report for Planetwildlife.com, a company specialising in tailor-made wildlife travel, everyone was a bit sceptical about how a niche product like this would take off in the Indian market, which is used to mass-marketed group travel.
However, my education in St Andrews gave me the exposure to management skills and the successful business practices required to lead and grow an international business, while the diversity of ‘the bubble’ helped me to understand the cultures of my consumers and partners. Admittedly, it was a difficult task to break this mold, but this part of the process is what I found most exciting.
Planetwildlife began in 2011. Having proved that it is possible to successfully run a start-up offering a niche product in a traditional market, I have gone on to establish Planetwildlife in South Africa and Australia. Its presence on three continents makes Planetwildlife a global brand associated with providing experiential travel through responsible tourism. I believe this will have a positive impact on the tourism industry as a whole, as it is one of the few travel companies that takes environmental sustainability so seriously.
I decided to enter the Education UK Alumni Awards in 2016, as I saw this as a great opportunity to reconnect with UK universities. Alumni Awards is a great platform to network with other professionals and entrepreneurs. Being selected as a Finalist in the Entrepreneurial category gave me the official recognition for the company and I would encourage others to put themselves forward for these awards.
I would also like thank the University of St Andrews and the British Council for giving me the opportunity to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, fellow alumni of the University, on their Royal Visit to India in April of 2016.”
Nominations for the British Council Alumni Awards 2017 are now live. These awards celebrate the impact and value of a UK higher education and is open to alumni who have studied in the UK since 2001. The 2017 awards are restricted to alumni of a UK institution who now reside in one of the following countries:
Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia. Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, USA
To discover how to nominate yourself, or your fellow alumni, for a British Council Alumni Award 2017 please visit (https://www.britishcouncil.org/education-uk-awards)