Bucks Graduate Udhi Silva has kindly been a Mentor to one of our students each year since the programme started. Here he discusses the companies he founded, his career journey to date, and why mentoring is so important for students and professionals alike.
What is involved in your day-to-day work?
Managing a business turning over £4m with 20 staff and 5,000 customers. I look after the strategy, operations and sales for the business.
How did your career develop?
Having graduated with a Business degree from Bucks the natural step at the time was to pick up the paper and scan for jobs. My career began as a Buyer of Beds for Dreams. This opportunity enlightened me on the skills required to negotiate with suppliers, develop and influence company stakeholders and drive value by purchasing goods at the best prices. This experience led me into an opportunity in London working as a Buyer at Harrods for their furniture department.
After a year of procuring high end goods I took the plunge into Healthcare procurement and worked for BMI Healthcare’s purchasing medical, cleaning, HR, marketing and IT products for over 70 Hospitals.
Having built up experience and a skill set in Procurement my colleague Nick Coleman and I decided to setup Medical Supermarket in 2010. We we’re the first one stop shop for Healthcare enabling GP surgeries, Care Homes and Hospitals and now supply over 5000 businesses including KFC, Starbucks and the savoy Hotel! The company now turns over £4m and employs 17 staff in Aylesbury
What have been your main career achievements to date?
Learning all about dealing with stakeholders and managing relationships in my role as a Buyer for BMI Healthcare. This was a fundamental achievement for me especially when I could influence decisions that saved the company millions!
Also building a business from my spare room which has won many awards:
Winner of Best Small Business in Buckinghamshire 2015.
Winner of Best Business Leader in Buckinghamshire 2015.
Winner of Best Customer Service in Buckinghamshire 2014.
Winner of Most Innovative Business in Bedfordshire 2014.
Winner of Smart 100 Best People Business in 2014.
Winner of Most Innovative Business in Buckinghamshire 2013.
Winner of Haines Watts Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Buckinghamshire 2015.
Winner of Haines Watts Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Thames Valley 2015.
How has your qualification from Bucks helped your career?
My qualification has helped me immensely. Studying Business at BCUC (now Bucks New University) has given me a broad understanding of the mechanics of business, how it works and how to deal with people.
Upon reflection, what skills did your qualification give you that help in your job?
Presentation skills, working with teams and problem solving.
What advice would you give to a student who is about to graduate into your role/industry?
Talk to as many people as possible. I would recommend firstly utilising the resources of the University. For example I have learnt so much from using a mentor. The University now provides this service; in my day there wasn’t anything like this.
You founded and now manage several different companies. How did this come about?
Since launching Medical Supermarket, Nick Coleman and I have been highly entrepreneurial. We have since launched a 3rd party distribution service called Coleman Silva to help small companies store and ship their goods across the country. This has played to our strengths as we have a large warehouse facility in Aylesbury with some of the best systems and pricing structures for distribution in the country. We’ve even created a Flavoured Pork Crackling called the The Snaffling Pig Company, which sell over 7000 jars of crackling a month through NotOnTheHighstreet, Selfridges, Caviar House, Fenwicks and through 500 pubs.
What advice would you pass on to your first year self?
Get involved with the University more through sports, mentoring, joining the Students’ Union or participating in events. These experiences are great for character and confidence building, which I think is vital for when you graduate and throughout your career.
You have kindly mentored Bucks New University students for a number of years now. Please tell us about this in more detail.
I couldn’t be where I am today without my mentors. One thing I strongly recommend to everyone is that you never have a bad meeting. You will always learn something from someone. I use mentors to help coach me on how I handle situations, to get feedback on the business decisions I make and to make me improve on my communication skills and learn from others.
Having built up my experience of business and work I wanted to give something back to my University and I am happy to speak to anyone who needs help in setting up their own company or how to make the transition from University life into the world of work!
A message from Bucks New University Alumni Service:
The Alumni Service and Mentoring Programme rely on the knowledge and generosity of graduates such as Udhi Silva. We, and the students who are mentored by Udhi, are incredibly grateful for his ongoing commitment to the university.
- Bucks Business School
- Alumni LinkedIn Group
- Recruiting our Students and Graduates
- Alumni Testimonials
- Bucks Mentoring Programme