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Oleg Giberstein

BA Politics and International Relations (2010), Founder at Guidelighter

Why did you choose to study at Royal Holloway?
I loved Founder’s Building, the campus overall, the relative proximity to London and my department (Politics and International Relations). It also helped that I had managed to obtain a Bedford Scholarship!

What has your career journey been like and what do you do now?
After my BA at Royal Holloway I went on to do an MPhil in International Relations at Oxford and then worked at Citigroup for 4 years. I quit in June 2016 to focus on a company that I co-founded called Guidelighter. We are a peer to peer marketplace for professional experience where experienced professionals can offer to share their experience and mentor students and others. It's a very exciting stage of my life to be going through this "startup-journey" now and we have just been admitted to the Masschallenge East London accelerator programme so the future is looking even more exciting! 

How did your time at Royal Holloway benefit your career (academically or from an extra-curricular point of view)?

My Political Theory class taught by Dr Nathan Widder was probably the most intellectually stimulating class I ever had at university. Throughout my time at Royal Holloway I felt welcome and comfortable wherever I went and this has given me a lot both personally and academically. I had the opportunity to spend one year on exchange at UC San Diego, finished my degree with a first class and met many wonderful people with whom I am still in close friendship and contact. In that sense my time at Royal Holloway has benefited me in many different ways both personally as well as professionally.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career in your sector?
Starting your own company is both the most liberating as well as scary thing you can do and you should be ready for an emotional roller coaster ride throughout. But the concept that helped me the most in finding the courage to do it was Jeff Bezos' regret minimisation framework. When you are old and looking back at your life, will you deeply regret not having made a particular choice? If you think the answer might be yes, then you should do it! And once we really think through what the worst would be that can happen, it is usually not as bad as it may seem at first. Especially if the alternative is being stuck in a job that you do not enjoy... The last piece of advice? Find yourself the right mentors!




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