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All Aboard: How an Entrepreneur Got Her MBA While Traveling the World

All Aboard: How an Entrepreneur Got Her MBA While Traveling the World main image

At 18, Roz Colthart moved from Scotland to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to work as an international representative. Now, 28 years later, she has an MBA and multiple business ventures across the world under her belt.

Roz said: “I fell in love with the concept of traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people.

“When you have a taste of something new, you need something else to feed that thirst.”

Building a global curriculum

After working at Disney, Roz came back to Europe and landed a position as a hospitality representative for a company based in Portugal.

But it wasn’t long until she relocated again – this time to the Caribbean, working as a manager on Richard Branson’s private island. This is where Roz got a true taste for business and realized she had a flair for entrepreneurship.

She said: “At the time of working on the island, I met all these incredibly inspiring people who had come up with an idea and started a business, and then gone on to be extremely successful.

“And I think when you’re younger and you read about these people, they seem very untouchable, amazingly successful and inspiring, almost superhuman. But then when you meet them you realize that they’re just normal human beings. I said to myself, why couldn’t I have my own business?”

In 2007, after a few other professional experiences in the hospitality industry, Roz started her own UK-based fashion business Black Essentials, which she was forced to close during the economic recession that followed shortly after.

Nevertheless, she didn’t let herself get discouraged, and soon landed a job as residential director at The World, the largest private luxury residential ship on the planet.

She said: “I found myself once again meeting people with interesting stories, who had invested or created businesses and ended up making millions and millions. I realized I wanted to have my own business again, so I started to think about what I and everyone else in the field had to offer. And the difference was – they all had master’s degrees, I didn’t.”

Going back to school – on board

On board of The World, Roz decided to pursue a remote MBA from Edinburgh Napier University. She recalls working extremely long days and only being able to interact with classmates and complete coursework at night due to the time difference, an experience that taught her the value of discipline and dedication.

She said: “At the time, the program was called Global MBA. And I truly put the global into it. I was traveling the world, I was studying everywhere – on planes, in airport lounges. Sometimes when the ship would pull into a port and I would go ashore and take the coursework with me to a local café or marina.

“When I look back I think – how on earth did I do that? But I did it. When you want something really badly and you’re determined, you just make it happen.”

In the final year of her MBA, Roz decided to go back ashore to focus on her dissertation. After graduating, she landed another top-tier position in luxury hospitality at Soneva, a sustainable resort firm based in Thailand and the Maldives. In the meantime, she also began writing the business proposal for what would become her latest business venture – Salon Studios.

Salon Studios is the only salon suite model in the UK and a co-working hub providing a walk-in-ready, self-contained environment for self-employed professionals. Roz says the inspiration for the business came to her while she was in Florida.

She said: “I went to get my haircut at a salon suite, which I’d never seen before. I realized nobody had done this model in the UK and I said to myself, I’m going to do it.”

While Roz had never worked in the beauty industry, her professional and MBA experiences had given her the business acumen necessary to fill a gap in the market.

In July 2019, the first branch of Salon Studios opened in Edinburgh, allowing independent professionals to run their own business and avoid the risks associated with owning a conventional space, something Roz is extremely proud of.

Helping the self-employed

However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Roz realized that a number of independent salon businesses would suffer a serious blow because of lockdown and social distancing measures.

She said: “There seemed to be a forgotten population in terms of the self-employed salon professionals, and they slipped through the cracks for many different reasons. They didn’t benefit from furlough because they’re self-employed, or they were newly self-employed so they couldn’t access grants. So, I decided to help.”

Roz quickly set up Salonpreneur, a digital membership platform where independent salon professionals can access business advice and a global network of like-minded entrepreneurs. She says the initiative was met with enthusiasm and that the platform is growing quicker than anticipated.

Most recently, Roz was also recognized by the UK government’s GREAT Inspirations campaign, which awards entrepreneurs for their innovative responses to the pandemic.

She said: “I was just flabbergasted. I would have never in a million years imagined that. That was never my objective or plan. My goal was just to help people.”

In the future, Roz is planning to expand Salon Studios and open more branches across the UK, allowing more independent professionals to work in an environment that she considers “ideal and safe” for a post-Covid world. But she hasn’t given up traveling quite yet – soon, she will relocate to the Maldives to work for Soneva during peak tourism season.

She said: “My life is very crazy and unusual, but there are opportunities where you can make situations work for yourself. I do really have the best of both worlds.”

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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