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Solent Unviersity Southampton logo

Ben Michaelis

BSc (Hons) Business Management
Graduated 2015

Portrait image of Ben Michaelis

ThinkEngine was awarded 'Best B2B Digital Marketing Agency 2023 - Hampshire' at the SME Business Elite Awards.

Ben was shortlisted as ‘Global Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

How did university prepare you for your career?

University prepares you in a way you will probably never know. New academic skills, life lessons and opportunities for personal development are some of the key points.

Tell us a little about your career story so far

Prior to leaving university I had lined up a group marketing manager’s role at a well-established recruitment and training group in the logistics and transport sector. After four months in the role I decided that it wasn’t challenging enough for me. Although the company ethos was fantastic, it simply didn’t deliver what I was looking to gain out of a role.

I then started to think about what life could be like running my own business. I pitched an idea to my then boss, which was that I could do the current role on a freelance or self-employed basis for two days per week, and that would provide me with three days during the week to self-generate other new business. He accepted this proposal and ThinkEngine was born!

After spending my first couple of days calling prospective local companies, I found opportunities coming along which then allowed me to grow the business. Since that day, the business has gone from strength to strength, working with a fantastic range of global clients from a wide range of industry sectors.

Over the last eight years ThinkEngine has continued to grow, with new clients and team members joining me along the way. We are now a five-person team, with three of us being alumni of Solent University’s Solent Business School.

University prepares you in a way you will probably never know: new academic skills, life lessons and opportunities for personal development.

Tell us about what you're doing now and what a typical working day involves

As a B2B digital marketing agency, we are looking to grow our presence nationally and internationally. My role is to oversee the day-to-day management of the business. My typical day can vary, but mainly it will consist of team and client management, financial planning and/ or attending client calls/meetings. However, working in a small team means you always have to have an element of flexibility – things can change in an instant – and you have to be ready for that change regardless.

What’s your career highlight so far?

I would say that I have three key highlights, and achieving a first-class business management degree is definitely one of those. Working alongside my fantastic group of friends made the journey even better, and the results for everyone made the whole journey worthwhile.

Another key highlight is being able to work closely alongside Solent University and provide current students with real-world work opportunities – experience in industry is so important in today’s challenging recruitment market.

My final highlight is being selected for various business and entrepreneur awards. In the 2022–23 period ThinkEngine and I were shortlisted as finalists for five different awards, and we felt honoured to have been shortlisted against other amazing companies.

What tips would you give to someone wanting a career in your industry?

• Do what you say and say what you do – you will quickly gain the respect of your clients and build long-term business relationships.
• No one knows everything, so there is no harm in asking for help. No entrepreneur built a business without experts in their respective business fields supporting them.
• Make yourself different – have a unique selling point. Why should a prospective client come to you over the thousands of other options in your market?
• Learn from your mistakes – everyone in business will make a mistake at some point.
• Taking the time to sit back and understand what you could have done differently next time will be a great lesson and will make you more insightful moving forward.