From student to Director and Board member aged 35
Published on 8 November 2021
Anthony Brennan, International Business with International Relations alumnus, talks about his journey of success in the world of business
Anthony Brennan always had his sights set on being in business. Since graduating in 2007, he has climbed the ranks in the business world and is now a Director and Board member at a rapidly growing technology business that specialises in web development, mtc.
Hailing from a town in North Lanarkshire called Wishaw, Anthony originally toyed with the idea of following in his brother’s footsteps and going to a local university, but after further research into his dream course and a visit to the city of Dundee, his mind was made up.
“Through further research into the course and its objectives, it really appealed to me. I thought there was a strong connection between the objectives of the course and what I wanted to pursue as a career.
“As much as I loved my family, I think there was an opportunity for me to grow as a person at that point. Moving out of home and finding my own feet, and doing my own thing, was a big aspiration that I had.”
Reflecting on the International Business and International Relations course, it is clear his decision to come to the University of Dundee did not disappoint Anthony.
“The whole course was well organised and the lecturers and tutors, they were just phenomenal. There were two tutors in particular, Martin Jones and Carlos Morelli that were just inspirational to me. Not only did they bring the theory, but they spoke about things in a real-world sense, which is it’s that real-world application that I think is the crux of things that you want to achieve when in business. In terms of ‘how do I take this learning and put this into the real world?’ They took the time to explain very simple things and even more complex things to me.
“My degree was probably broken down to three subjects overall. We had economics, accountancy and then for international relations the politics side. I think these are all really key subjects for business in general. Economics - understanding the economy and how you take things to market. Accountancy - the numbers, everything has to boil down to numbers. Then the politics – understanding different cultures, how different cultures work and how you can use that to inform your business objectives.
“In terms of a business sense, it gave me some theoretical models that I still use today too, especially from Economics. Even just things like Porters 5 Forces, SWOT analysis – they are all things that you can take from your degree and continue to use and apply in the real-world sense in within a business.”
As well as very much enjoying his time at university and thriving on the content of his course, the personal support played a very big role for him, when it was discovered in his third year of studying, that he was dyslexic.
“I’ve always had challenges with reading. Nothing was ever really picked up during my school days. But the University picked up on it and I found out I’m dyslexic. There were such great support mechanisms put in place to help make things a bit more of an even playing field for me and to make sure that I wasn’t at a disadvantage at all. That side of things really meant a lot to me.”
Anthony has never been a stranger to working hard, working part-time throughout his studies. Upon graduation, he set about pursuing his goal to be successful in the world of business.
“I got on a graduate programme with a company called QA, Europe’s largest learning and development business. I joined there as an Account Manager, so I was looking after various corporate clients, understanding their learning needs. The slogan of the business was ‘Transforming through learning’ and it was a really great starting place for me. It was an incredible business, giving me multiple opportunities to travel around the UK. I was there for five years and located back to Glasgow at that time.”
But Anthony always knew his heart was with Dundee and made it his mission to get back to the city that he had grown to love throughout his time as a student.
“Throughout my time at University, I became a big advocate of the city. I just saw Dundee as my home at that point, even though it’s not where I was born and raised. My goal was always to come back to Dundee and as a result I ended up joining, or rather was headhunted for another learning business, this time based in Dundee, called 2020 Business Insight.
“I joined them as Business Development Manager. Within a couple of years, I became a Sales Manager and headed up their global sales. That took me over to Houston for a stint of six months, which was an incredible experience. I was dealing with the global head of project management for companies like Shell, Chevron, Wood Group, Petrofac – so some really big businesses, and I was only about 25 or 26 at the time, it was an incredible opportunity.”
Anthony was head-hunted for the second time, which resulted in him re-joining QA for a further two years.
“It was just incredible to be so highly thought of. For them, being degree educated, particularly within a business like that, that thrives on learning development, was a big thing– it shows that you have the ability to continue to learn and adapt”
Four years ago, Anthony made his next career move and joined mtc. and what a journey the last four years have been for him.
“mtc. are a rapidly growing technology business specialising in web development. We are probably Scotland’s largest web development business by quite a mile. I joined as our Business Development Manager and quickly became their Head of Business Development and started to build the department. When I first joined, it was only me and one other colleague looking after sales or business development. I grew that to a team of eight within two years. Then, just over six months ago, I was promoted to The Board as a shareholder, so I now own part of the business, and I became one of the Directors here too – the Director of Business Development."
“Being a Director is a great privilege and it’s got a lot of responsibility. I’ve got nearly 130 members of staff that I am ultimately leading as part of this leadership team now.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to achieve. I’ve probably achieved it a lot sooner that I thought I would have, however. It just shows what can be done and that age is not a limiting factor on things. At mtc. we ensure that we see past age and it’s more about the application and the development of the individuals within our business.
“In the four years that I’ve been here, we’ve grown from around 80 members of staff right up to nearly 130 members of staff, not far off doubling in size. It’s really exciting.”
Anthony also believes firmly that his university degree instilled in him the ability to continuously learn and adapt, capabilities which he thinks are vital for the industry in which he now works.
“I’m wholly behind universities and what they do. Going to university means that you are showing future employers and businesses that you have the discipline and the capabilities to continuously learn. Over those three or four years, you are displaying attributes to the world that you are of a learning mind and that you can continuously develop as an individual - and that is absolutely critical to the world that we live in today. Looking at what my business is doing today compared to 5-10 years ago, it is very different, the way we do things is very much different.
“My role is to build the strategy for our business development, so ultimately our sales strategy and how we take the business out to market. On a typical day, I am engaging with other directors and department heads, understanding how projects are coming together, understanding how clients are interacting with our business, as well as looking at the overall market of technology and web development and how we position ourselves as the ‘go to’ for a web development partner. We work in a very challenging, very rapidly changing industry. New products come on the market all the time and we need to keep at the forefront of that.
“We work with all sizes of businesses from individual small sole trader businesses through to some really big, global, international businesses. For example, from your local hairdresser in Dundee through to, BrewDog, Umbro and Hilton Hotels.”
Anthony kindly offered some advice to anyone who is taking their first steps into business and the working world:
“My advice would be that you don’t need to know everything right away. There’s a long path ahead of you and things can always change. You can make things change, don’t feel that you need to go into university, or come out of university knowing exactly what you want to do. But whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it.
“You can always make it happen – the world right now is full of entrepreneurial-type people, so try to have that entrepreneurial-style vision. If you can’t find a business that is doing what you want to do, you could make that business. That’s the world that we live in these days. Use the tools and resources around you, and the University is certainly a place that is full of tools and resources that you can gain access to.”
We are very excited to follow Anthony’s alumni story as it progresses further and want to wish him all the best at what sounds like a very exciting time for him and mtc.
Do you want to share your Dundee experiences and alumni story with us? Get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org - we would love to hear from you and celebrate your success.
Alumni Relations Officer
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