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Innovation centre launches entrepreneur accelerator programme

Coworking space and innovation centre Plexal has announced the launch of a new accelerator programme.

Plexal’s OpenDoor initiative will support products, services and projects that make work more inclusive and enable under-represented groups to access better business and economic opportunities.

The accelerator programme will give entrepreneurs access to marketing and messaging support, business model development, tailored introductions to partners, investors and corporates, as well as access to the Plexal Community and coworking space.

Russell Gundry, head of innovation strategy at Plexal, explained: “By supporting ventures that create better inclusion with the level of focus and drive usually given to start-ups and scaleups, we can make an enormous difference.

“We can’t wait to start working with first cohort on building more socially inclusive businesses, workspaces and policies.”

If you would like to find out more information, please visit https://www.plexal.com/about/

5 eCommerce Brands who recently launched Pop-Ups with Storefront

Digitally native companies are increasingly testing pop-up stores around the world to drive buzz, increase visibility and test new concepts. From giants like Amazon to smaller etailers like M.M.LaFleur, Storefront has helped hundreds of eCommerce brands pop up this year in cities like New York, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam.

For these retail brands who started their business online, a physical retail presence is helping to drive more foot traffic, increase sales and even open a more long-term brick-and-mortar space. Here are 5 of Storefront’s favourite eCommerce brands that opened pop-up stores this year:

Rue Saint Paul

Rue Saint Paul is a new luxury lifestyle brand with a mission to help women live beautifully. They curate pieces from around the world that are made in small batches, by hand, and of sustainable materials. The brand is now testing pop-up stores to tell the story of the brand and pieces to customers in person, and to test out their retail strategy before they make an investment in a permanent location of their own.

Amazon

The eCommerce giant has been testing pop-up stores since last year, and turned to Storefront to host its first-ever pop-up store in Amsterdam to learn more about its Dutch consumers. Having just launched Amazon Prime in the Netherlands, Amazon was keen to “see what would happen if we popped up in Amsterdam,” states Nick Caplin, Amazon’s Head of European Communications, and to build relationships with its customers there. The store was open for two days and “ beat its targets for the amount of people attending”.

MM.LaFleur

MM LaFleur, the popular clothing line for professional women, has been on a pop-up world tour in the last few years, making stops all over the country to expand its retail concept, drive foot traffic and launch its showroom pop-up spaces. Storefront spoke with their Director of Retail last year to get the inside scoop on its retail launches and her tips for opening a pop-up store were: “they need to be impactful, create a sense of urgency, and be a value add for the customer.”

Reset

Reset was born out of a need for effortless, flattering and affordable clothing. It launched in May 2018 and has since been focusing on physical pop-up locations to increase visibility, brand awareness, and sales. While testing out several standalone pop-up stores, the brand has also been recently collaborating with Bloomingdales to open up pop-up concepts. and just booked this Storefront space in San Francisco for 6 months, encouraging customers to “start their Reset” and introduce popular, everyday essentials.

Code8

New beauty brand Code8 is popping up in the heart of London’s Mayfair at the Burlington Arcade, a historic landmark. The brand, launched last November, was created to simplify makeup by curating universally flattering colors to suit every skintone. The brand was founded by Nadine Ayache and Sophia Chikovani, who set out to simplify the world of cosmetics for consumers, and are set to launch even more pop-up stores in 2019. In this Storefront-powered space, the brand has successfully executed a space that’s been drawing tons of consumers with lots of offerings and experiences in store.

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Synpulse widens circle of Partners

International management consultancy Synpulse has two new partners. The appointments are a result of strong growth in the company’s business with banks and insurers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Synpulse has appointed Prasanna Venkatesan and Salomon Wettstein as new partners, according to a news release on Thursday. The firm also announced that Yves Roesti has joined its team of managing partners.

Roesti is based in Singapore and responsible for Synpulse’s consulting business in Asia. He studied computer science and economics at the University of Zurich and started his career at Synpulse in Zurich in 2006. Since his relocation to Singapore in 2008, he has led the expansion of Synpulse’s consulting business in Asia.

Promoting Digital Roadmaps

In 2015, he was appointed partner. Under his leadership, Synpulse grew the team in Asia to 150 consultants across three key markets – Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. In particular, Roesti has been promoting banking operating model transformations and digital roadmaps.

Wettstein joined Synpulse in 2011. He holds a Master in Computational Science and Engineering at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Wettstein heads the Hong Kong office and oversees the banking practice in the Greater China region. He manages strategic business and technology transformations for clients in that region and is part of the global Operational Excellence leadership team.

Consulting Private Banks

Venkatesan also started his career at Synpulse in 2011 and is based in Singapore. He holds an MBA from the Nanyang University of Technology (NTU) in Singapore. He specializes in consulting for the private banking sector in the areas of advisory excellence, large scale transformation and leads the regulatory, risk and compliance practice in Asia.

Since its founding in 1996, Synpulse has supported banks and insurers along the entire value chain – that is from the development of strategies and their operational realization to technical implementation and handover. Synpulse stands out due to the industry expertise, passion and commitment of its more than 350 employees. The firm has offices in Zurich, Geneva, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Bratislava, Vienna, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and London.

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UK entrepreneurs pledge support for construction skills initiative

An initiative designed to attract new talent into the built environment industry has secured the backing of entrepreneurs from three high-profile firms.

Black & White Engineering (B&W), s h e d and James Christopher Consulting are the latest companies to become sponsors of PlanBEE (Built Environment Education), a flexible training programme designed to attract and retain the brightest new talent in the region, plug skills gaps and create a more flexible workforce capable of working across various construction disciplines.

The initiative was launched in 2016 when Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture formed a powerful alliance with a network of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists.

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE gives trainees the chance to work in several companies across the built environment industry.

This radical approach allows entrepreneurs to make their business more competitive and efficient by hiring staff with a more rounded understanding of the industry.

Students on the programme will now benefit from a wider range of expertise with B&W, s h e d and James Christopher Consulting on board.

Launched in the United Arab Emirates in 2007, B&W is a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) design consultancy with offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Baku, Manila, London and Newcastle. The company offers design and consultancy services to the construction industry worldwide and has worked on numerous large-scale iconic projects including high-rise towers, data centres, hotels, shopping malls and airports.

Steven Horn, director, in B&W’s Newcastle office, said: “We need to see more young people coming into our industry with knowledge of different areas of the built environment. The way PlanBEE is structured allows us to achieve this. The programme is ideal preparation for how we want to develop our staff, which is to give them opportunities to experience different ways of working on various projects around the world.”

Newcastle-based s h e d is a structural and civil engineering design consultancy that specialises in complex engineering design and Building Information Modelling (BIM), an approach that helps firms risk-assess projects at an early stage by generating intelligent 3D models of buildings before construction takes place.

Marc Horn of s h e d said: “Our expertise in BIM requires us to recruit staff with a rounded understanding of the built environment sector. PlanBEE enables us to achieve this because it moves away from traditional off-the-shelf training initiatives that shoehorn professionals into narrowly defined roles in a single company.”

James Christopher Consulting, an established engineering practice in Gateshead, offers design services to the built environment sector and works on a wide range of projects, from small-scale specialist structures to large-scale commercial developments including land reclamation and drainage works.

Technical director Craig Higgins said: “We were delighted to get involved with PlanBEE and were impressed with this novel approach to recruiting, training and developing staff. There’s a strong emphasis on the application of digital technologies to different types of construction projects and we want our workforce to be at the forefront of this revolution.”

Working with Gateshead College, the PlanBEE group has created a bespoke higher-level skills programme that provides budding professionals with study and off-the-job training at the college’s construction facility on Team Valley, along with a job working with some of the region’s leading companies. It has been tailored specifically for and by the North East construction sector, providing students with a starting salary of £10,700 per year, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity on graduation.

Established by Ryder Architecture, the initiative has already attracted some high-profile names, including Brims Construction, NBS, Desco (Design & Consultancy), BIM Academy, Sir Robert McAlpine, Xsite Architecture, Robertson, 3e Consulting, Cundall, Arup, FaulknerBrowns, Sadler Brown Architecture and Tolent.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s great to have three additional sponsors on board. The industry has called for employees to be skilled in a greater range of disciplines, such as surveying, landscaping, architecture and planning, and PlanBEE addresses this fundamental need.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of an industry-led initiative that’s becoming a national exemplar for the recruitment and development of construction employees.”

Mark Thompson, managing partner at Ryder Architecture, added: “It’s fantastic to see the positive impact the programme is making on the students and sponsoring businesses, and we’re delighted to be welcoming the new sponsors to our third cohort.”

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DLA Piper boosts trainee salaries to £77k, as pay rises continue

DLA Piper has upped the salaries of its trainees and newly qualified (NQ) solicitors, as City law firms continue to chuck extra cash at their rookie ranks.

The global titan has confirmed that first years will now receive a salary of £45,000, up 2% from £44,000, while those in year two of their TCs will earn £50,000, again a rise of £1,000 or 2%. There’s extra cash for DLA’s NQs, too. The firm’s new associates will now receive £77,000, an extra £2,000 or 3%, putting them on the same remuneration levels as their peers at Baker McKenzie and Norton Rose Fulbright.

The firm, which offers around 70 training contracts each year, has also bumped pay across its offices outside London. First year trainees in the English regions and Scotland now earn £28,000, while those a year ahead will now receive a salary of £31,000 — an extra £1,000 across the board. Regional and Scottish NQ pay now sits at £44,000, up from a previous figure of £42,000.

News of the uplifts come just weeks after it emerged that DLA Piper had ditched a policy which ensured its London and regional trainees were paid the same while completing secondments overseas. Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for the firm said the “adjustment to the secondment policy for our UK regional offices” was part of a “new international graduate programme”.

A host of City firms have confirmed salary rises in recent weeks. A full breakdown of what they pay (and much, much more) can be found on the 2018 edition of our Firms Most List.

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Who’s switching jobs? People moves for October 12th

The latest news for People on the Move, including insights and opinions from employment experts around the globe.

Octopus Property

Specialist property lender Octopus Property, part of the Octopus Group, announced the appointment of Paula Purdy as business development manager (BDM), north of England, reporting directly to D’mitri Zaprzala, Head of Sales. Paula’s appointment follows on from the three regional BDM hires announced last month, with representatives now established across the UK. Paula brings over 17 years of residential, commercial, buy-to-let and bridging lending experience. She joins Octopus Property from Shawbrook Bank, where she was head of sales, residential mortgages, increasing business and raising Shawbrook’s profile amongst intermediaries. Paula will be responsible for deepening relationships with introducers, alongside building new ones, in and around major North of England cities including Chester, Liverpool, Crewe and Warrington, leveraging Octopus Property’s residential, commercial and development product range.

White & Case LLP

Global law firm White & Case has expanded its global project finance practice with the addition of Simon Caridia as a new partner in London. Simon focuses his practice on debt financings for infrastructure M&A and private equity transactions. He advises industry sponsors, infrastructure and private equity funds, commercial bank lenders, multilateral agencies, institutional investors and host governments on brownfield transactions and greenfield projects, including acquisitions, refinancing’s, restructurings, project finance and public-private partnerships. He joins White & Case from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he was a partner. “There are very few lawyers in the London market who can match Simon’s reputation, experience and market knowledge in relation to advising clients on debt financing for infrastructure M&A and private equity deals,” said White & Case partner Mark Castillo-Bernaus.

Houlihan Lokey

Houlihan Lokey, the global investment bank, yesterday announced that David Brock had joined the firm as a managing director in its industrials group, focused on the building products sector. He is based in London. David joins from Jefferies, where he was a managing director and head of the construction and building materials group. Prior to Jefferies, he was also a managing director and head of the construction and building materials group at Deutsche Bank. David’s previous experience also includes equity research roles in the building products sector at Credit Suisse and HSBC. “I am excited for the opportunity to be part of this momentum and to be joining the market-leading Industrials team,” David said.