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Alumni

John Nichols

Career Path: Founder & Editor-in-Chief, NFT Insider & Head of Content, pink.gg
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Post-graduation, I wanted to combine my drive to improve my sales ability, my interest in media, and my desire to work with high-end products and brands. I found an ideal fit at Living North, where I quickly rose to lead the sales team, working with global brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW and Rolex, generating almost £200,000 in sales personally over my tenure.

In February 2021, I developed an interest in blockchain technology, cryptocurrency and NFTs, leading to the launch of nftinsider.io - a now industry-leading media outlet - in May 2021, building it on evenings and weekends whilst still at Living North. NFT Insider was acquired by pink.gg in September 2021, leading to me taking a strategic role at one of Europe's fastest-growing tech companies (generating $500 million+ to date) in addition to my continued leadership of the NFT Insider brand.

What are you doing now?John Nichols

Today, I'm the Editor-in-Chief of NFT Insider, and the Head of Content at pink.gg. My day-to-day sees me lead a rapidly-growing team at NFT Insider, furthering its position at the forefront of the industry, whilst developing and executing on the branding and overall strategic direction of the wider pink.gg company, which includes AtomicHub - the world's busiest NFT marketplace, and AtomicAds - an industry-leading advertising solution for Web3 Demand Side Platforms (DSPs). In addition, I'm a podcaster (with our weekly show in the Top 15% of podcasts worldwide), an experienced panel moderator and speaker (having been invited to MC, moderate and speak at major events around the world, including to interview world-leading figures in AI and gaming), and a consultant on NFTs, blockchain and Web3.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Northumbria's credentials as one of the UK's leading universities for Student & Graduate Enterprise, as well as its innovative, practical and forward-thinking Entrepreneurship degrees, made it stand out - and in hindsight, I couldn't have made a better choice than to study here. The supportive staff, the skills I developed and the ample opportunities to broaden my horizons with real-world experiences (in such a vibrant city!) made it a time a really cherished, and one I look back on with fond memories. I wouldn't be where I am today without the skills, knowledge, and experiences Northumbria gave me.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

As a degree that focused on practical knowledge, our day-to-day featured a medley of lectures and seminars that led to team projects, encouraging us to start our own small businesses and gain real-world experience of the degree material - not just theory. Due to the vast and varied experiences of the lecturers, there was always a specialist on hand, whether you had questions on venture capital, marketing, productivity and much more. Feedback was regular, constructive and always with the view of not just improving your grades and test scores, but challenging your perceptions, developing your critical thinking and making you a better entrepreneur.

How connected was your course with industry? (eg. did you have a placement, work on projects? were there interesting guest lectures?

The degree featured ample opportunities to engage with the start-up environment locally, nationally and internationally. Introductions were made to numerous accelerator programmes to further develop and field-test our ideas, as well as intra-course team projects, dedicated networking events with local business leaders, and connections with other entrepreneurship-minded students across the UK. Guest lectures were a regular occurrence, giving us the ability to learn from the experience of, and ask questions to, tenured leaders from a variety of industries.

What was the best thing about your course?

With the degree scoring high-marks in so many different areas, singling out one aspect is very difficult! I can't overemphasise just how many opportunities the course provided to its students. Barely a week went by without an intriguing guest lecture, an invitation to an accelerator programme, or a networking event for us to attend. At every corner, there were opportunities within our reach. The lecturers had a genuine care for our personal and professional development, and there was so much support, opportunity and extra-curricular activity on offer for all students to partake in.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

I'd been an entrepreneur from a young age (starting with graphic design services from the age of 13), so I knew Entrepreneurship was the path I wished to take - however I came into Northumbria with limited knowledge of where my real strengths and weaknesses lay. The guidance, challenges and support offered by the lecturers helped me tremendously in helping to understand myself better - furthering my strengths, improving my weaknesses and revealing aspects of my personal and professional skill set that I'd yet to uncover. The skills, advice and mentorship provided helped me understand not just my own ability, but also understand and better appreciate the ability of those around me - and that perception has paid dividends over my career thus far, helping me recognise talent, build better teams and forge great culture. My role as President of the Entrepreneurs Society, which I held for 12 months, gave me even further opportunities to make great local connections - both with business leaders and students from across the UK alike - and additional experience in leadership, management, interpersonal skills and so much more.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

The realisation, recognition and improvement of my sales and presentation ability was undoubtedly one of the biggest advancements I made in my practical development at Northumbria. The confidence which my lecturers instilled in me is an asset that I put to use every single day, and has proven vital in my various moderation, panellist, MC and interviewer experiences. Team projects, and the various roles I was able to undertake within them, led to ample progress with my leadership and management skills. The theories, tips and advice given to me were a big part of the success of my senior role at Living North, and more recently with the growth, development and operation of the teams at NFT Insider and pink.gg. Core business theory - such as setup, taxation and marketing - equipped me with the know-how necessary to setup NFT Insider in May 2021, and the focus on practical professional skills has continued to guide my development, skill set and learning to this day.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The camaraderie built between peers on my degree was fantastic - indeed, I've kept in touch with a number of fellow students not just in my own year, but across the degree programme, as they've started their own careers - many beginning their own entrepreneurial journeys. The opportunities to go out into the real-world and conduct real business - with full support of the faculty, lecturers, student union and more - was an invaluable and super-enjoyable experience that I consider such as privilege to have been able to enjoy.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Make the absolute most of your limited time! There's so much opportunity available to further your personal development, professional development and career skills to make you an outstanding individual, whether you're looking to join a world-leading company or start one of your own. Get stuck in to extra-curricular opportunities on your degree and at the Student Union - but also seek out more! The lecturers take your development to heart, and they have ample experience, knowledge and insights to share. Newcastle is much more than it's vibrant nightlife - it's a melting pot of cultures, ideas and progress, so whatever it is you're interested in or whatever career path you'd like to go down, get stuck in, ask questions and put yourself out there. "Shy bairns get nowt" is a Geordie proverb for a reason!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Modern. Innovation. Opportunity.

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