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Ishwari has been working for CFE for 8 years in various different roles after completing her MA Design Management for the Fashion Industry (now MA Fashion Design Management). She is now working as an Investment Programme Manager, we asked her more about her time at LCF, her career and her interest in fashion technology.
You’ve just become a UK citizen. First, congratulations! and second, what makes the UK so special to you?
I feel like I have limitless potential in London. It’s such an inspiring city, in my 9.5 years here, I’ve learned so much and have been exposed to such interesting and life changing experiences. Also, it’s literally in the middle of the world, so for a travel addict like me, it’s the perfect base to have.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
I did my bachelors in fashion design in India and worked for under a year as a design and styling assistant which made me realise that I was more interested in the business side of fashion. I then did my MA at LCF in Design Management, which at that time was the only management related master’s program I found in London which had great reviews and post study work relevance, hence I chose LCF.
What things did you really take away from your time at LCF?
The more interest you show in your own growth, the more people want to help you.
The courses are also designed for you to make the most of your time here. Halfway through my MA course, our director had to leave due to health issues and most of us were left with no dissertation supervisor. But as soon as I started looking into alternatives, I found so many people who were willing to help me and I eventually scored a distinction. I also learnt the importance of self-study and making the most of all the resources and opportunities that were available to me as a student. The connections and networks I developed as a student, eventually helped me bag my first internship and job at CFE.
How would you define your work at this point?
I was lucky to have found the part-time internship at CFE, which later became a full-time internship and eventually a job.
I’ve had 4 different job roles at CFE in the last 8 years and I’ve really enjoyed every single one of them. Each of them gave me an opportunity to learn, innovate and move forward and grow my career in a non-traditional manner and I now have knowledge and skills across a variety of roles.
At this point, I’m enjoying the balance between learning new things and sharing my knowledge and experience via mentoring and coaching business founders.
You studied MA Design Management for the Fashion Industry (now MA Fashion Design Management) at LCF. How did that lead you to where you are now?
During my MA, I learned all about the business side of fashion, which is what CFE specialises in, helping creative people understand the business side. Given my initial education in design, the MA really helped me understand how having knowledge of the two gives a designer an edge over others in the industry and why it’s essential to constantly keep reinventing yourself.
What do you love most about your profession?
Working with and helping some of the most exciting fashion tech talents rise to their fullest potential. I’ve always found joy and satisfaction in helping others realise their dreams and grow holistically, and my current job aligns with my life purpose. I also love to travel, attend and speak at various fashion and tech events – to share knowledge and stay connected with the wider industry.
Why does communication and fashion technology interest you?
Communication is one of the most important elements in any business, especially in fashion tech as you have to communicate the beauty of the collaboration between two different industries to an audience that is not very technical.
I also believe that the future of fashion lies in the way it collaborates with technology, and thus this sector is of great interest to me.
Do you think it’s necessary to have an entrepreneurial spirit to work in fashion technology?
Absolutely! An attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change is key, as this is a relatively new sector and involves a lot of risk and unlearning in order to thrive.
What is your ethos on travel and work-life balance?
As my family and friends span across the globe, I see the difference between a healthy and a disruptive work-life balance. I feel lucky to be in Europe and especially at UAL where people not only value a good work-life balance but also put policies in place to help employees achieve it. Remote and flexible working policies enable people to be more productive and agile which is very important in today’s fragmented and competitive world. I would not have been able to achieve or progress as much in my career if UAL didn’t have flexible working provisions. The more I travel, the more I learn and the more I am inspired to apply my learning into my job and grow.
What are your thoughts on the future of working styles?
Especially, remote and mobile fashion work.The world is more connected than ever now, and rigid work styles cause more harm than good. When people are allowed to move and explore freely (within reason), their output is much higher and of better quality. Allowing people to choose their ideal working style, also enables them to feel more responsible about their work which has a positive impact on their output. In a highly mobile world, well thought through remote and flexible working styles are definitely the way forward.
What are the most memorable things that have happened in your career so far?
I had the opportunity to publish my dissertation as a research paper; I have spoken at various international fashion and tech events like SXSW, Sonar and giving a keynote on tech trends in fashion at the ICT Spring conference in Luxembourg this year; being named as the top 100 women in fashion tech and one of UK top 25 forward thinking people in Fashion Tech; judging global luxury tech competitions in UK and UAE, supporting more than 50 fashion tech startups since 2016 and continuing to work with most of them even now, the journey so far has been nothing but memorable and it keeps me excited about the future.
What are the defining moments that have helped you to get where you are?
I remember working 3 internships and 2 part-time jobs during my last 6 months at uni while most of my friends were focusing on writing the thesis and enjoying their last few months as students.
I sometimes felt I was missing out on the fun, but it was a very small price to pay for where it got me, all that experience and capacity to juggle different tasks was instrumental in forging my career.
Also, the network I developed over the years by attending events that were not necessarily linked to my job, helped me grow and learn beyond my sector, something that is becoming more and more important in a tech driven hybrid world. Apart from that, I would say taking risks, keeping the big picture in mind and always making sure that any work I do, aligns with my life purpose and personal values and principles has really helped me get where I am today.
If you were to give advice to a current student or recent graduate, what would it be?
You and only you alone are responsible for your success and your failures and there’s always something to learn from both of them. Learn to stay focused on your dreams without getting too fixated and missing out on the little joys. The more time you spend on self-development now, the higher your growth arch will be.
And most importantly, go out there and network, not for the sake for it, but to truly learn and satisfy your curiosity and form important relationships which will help you in the future. The world is a lot smaller than you think, and everybody knows somebody.
Lastly, where does your drive come from, and what is your latest project?
From always wanting to be a better version of myself every day and letting my curiosity drive my actions. I love to learn new things, and truly believe that in order to adapt and stay relevant, we have to learn to unlearn and be open to change. I’m currently finishing an ILM level 5 certificate in executive business coaching and I’m looking forward to continue to help founders grow holistically by coaching them towards their success.