From ESCP Europe to entrepreneurship

Katie Morley meets Brendan Walsh, one of the business school's alumni who's set up his own arts enterprise
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One of ESCP Europe's high-achieving alumni and a budding entrepreneur, Brendan Walsh tells us about the boost his Master in Management gave to his career in the arts.

What made you decide to do the Master in Management?

Originally, I wanted to be a musician. I studied music and German at university, and then went on to music college in the Netherlands.

That's when I came to realise that being on stage wasn't going to be enough for me, and so I took some cultural management modules to see whether I actually enjoyed the business side of things, and I did.

The idea was first suggested to me by a conductor, who then introduced me to his manager who had done an MBA at Cranfield.

He made me realise that what I wanted to do was a full-time management course, and get some experience in business to take back and apply to the music world.

The academic prestige of ESCP Europe is what first attracted me to apply, and then when I had a look at the course in more detail, I was sold.

What was the best thing about studying at ESCP Europe?

ESCP Europe provides an exclusive chance to work with a set of highly intelligent people from across Europe at three amazing, and very different, campuses - Oxford (now London), Madrid and Paris.

My first year at Oxford was a comprehensive introduction to business which, for a previous music student, was extremely useful!

Then Madrid was a small and intimate campus set in a villa with a pool where we were taught in small, tutor-lead classes.

And the final year in Paris was a huge contrast again, as a huge hub of student activity where you really get to focus on your chosen specialities.

The combination of classroom-taught theory and practical experience that the school provides you with really sets you up well for the world of business.

How have you been able to transfer what you learnt in the classroom into real life?

My aim was to get an understanding of the workings of businesses and then to apply it to the arts world.

Through my Master in Management, I've learnt to build a bridge between the two sectors.

What I've come to realise is that the two worlds have the same principles, but just don't understand each other's languages.

You need to keep a business mind to successfully manage the arts world, but at the same time, it's something you do because you're passionate about it.

What's happening in your career at the moment?

I set up a company called Circo Productions, which combines audio, visuals and classical music, and operates throughout Europe.

I'm the business manager, so I oversee all our activities - for example, documentaries and promotional films, and various reports.

We have an interesting audio-visual project on the go at the moment, making movies based on a musical score. We show them in concert halls, and we've developed software enabling the film to be synchronised with the interpretation of the conductor.

I love what I do - I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

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