Claudia Cavalluzzo - Converge

Claudia Cavalluzzo is Director of Converge, a unique programme and network that brings together academic entrepreneurs to equip them to start and grow their own businesses. She has a reputation for bringing dynamism, vision, leadership and creative energy to her team and the business.

Claudia has a long-standing relationship with Entrepreneurial Scotland, having completed the Saltire Fellowship programme in 2015. As part of the programme, she took up her Executive Internship with Entrepreneurial Scotland, and stayed on, acquiring the role of Head of Saltire Fellowship, until 2017.

With a background in science and a PhD in Organic Chemistry, the Saltire Fellowship programme helped her to pivot her career, realise her ambitions and build an enviable network of connections, peers and mentors, many of whom to this day she continues to draw on for advice, recommendations and collaboration.

Claudia-Converge.jpg

THE OPPORTUNITY:

Claudia, like many, first heard about the Saltire Fellowship from a friend, and was so intrigued and impressed by the way the life-long learning programme had transformed her life, that she was keen to explore the ways in which it might help her to forge a new career path of her own.

Claudia explains; “Before I started on the Saltire Fellowship, I had been looking at other jobs, particularly in business development. I quickly learnt I just didn’t have the experience. I realised I needed to gain more experience and understanding of the wider business world If I wanted to get out of the lab."

As part of the Saltire Fellowship, Claudia conducted her Executive Internship – the second phase of the programme, which follows three months at Babson College in Boston – with Entrepreneurial Scotland, helping on several transformation projects.

At the end of this experience, she was invited to stay on as Head of Saltire Fellowship, where she helped to grow and evolve the programme to ensure it was viable, sustainable and successful. She gained valuable skills and knowledge, but moreover a network, and has helped to build a legacy for both Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Saltire Fellowship Programme.

The Saltire Fellowship sounded ideal for me. I believed it would not only give me some new skills but also open my mind to new opportunities and help me understand the art of possibilities. I wanted to realise ambitions I hadn't yet realised I had.

IMPACT:

The Saltire Fellowship and subsequent work with Entrepreneurial Scotland, allowed Claudia to combine her scientific and analytical approach with an entrepreneurial mindset, commercial acumen, and leadership. She also acknowledges the Saltire Fellowship has made her a better leader and entrepreneur, as well as teaching her more about collaboration and the importance of confidence – skills that have proven to be invaluable in her career journey.

Claudia believes that the combination of her learning and practical experience gave her the skills and realisation that she could take on the role of Deputy Director at Converge when it arose.

When the opportunity presented in 2018, to take over from Dr Olga Kozlova, Director and Founder at Converge, it was Entrepreneurial Scotland that Claudia turned to for advice.

I was worried about taking over the role from Olga. She had become a mentor to me and I had witnessed what she had done and grown. The first person I called was Sandy Kennedy, my former boss. What he said was so instrumental at that time. He told me to focus on being myself, not trying to be like someone else and bring my whole self to the role.

For Claudia, it epitomised the value of the course in providing personal and professional connections. From calling on a mentor to getting back in touch with Babson College lecturers and academia to the Saltire Fellowship cohort and the enduring mentors, friends and peers, she pinpoints the network as the best thing about the experience for her.

She explains; “The network – a network that wants you to succeed - is the thing that has practically helped and complemented my journey. My connections helped me to secure the job I’m in now. A safe space filled with honesty, trust and support, has been invaluable and I continue to call on my cohort for advice and recommendations and aim to offer the same support to them.

“I feel very lucky to have been part of, but also to have worked with the Saltire Fellowship. It was the thing that changed my life. It changed the way I looked at myself and at new opportunities, and it’s given me an incredible network of contacts I otherwise would never have met.”

Having always been an advocate of life-long learning, Claudia believes investing in your own development can only be of benefit.

I think if you want to be a leader you need to continue to learn, constantly evolve and go on a journey. Challenging your own views is an enriching experience and the opportunity to do so on the Saltire Fellowship, with other people from different walks of life, was the best thing ever for me.

-----

If you would like to talk to Entrepreneurial Scotland about our leadership programmes and how they can benefit your business please email andy.macnicol@entrepreneurialscotland.com