Baran Ceylan won the 2014 Future Business Leader Undergraduate of the Year Award with Mars and what an incredible year it has been...

Wow – what an incredible year this has been. 2014 has flown by and writing this blog has probably been the only opportunity that I have had to glance over the past nine months and absorb all the events that have taken place. This year I have pitched to investors, launched a business, won national competitions and had the opportunity to learn from global business leaders, while juggling exams and university life.

The extraordinary experience I have had at Wrigley this summer, in both its UK and Chicago offices, has made me realise what a privilege it was to win TARGETjobs’ Future Business Leader Undergraduate of the Year Award. Working in the confections division at Wrigley’s UK office, I was fortunate to be given the responsibility to lead a European strategy project for a new product. Through this role I was able to gain a deeper understanding about the full scale of the business because I was interacting with and meeting individuals across different departments. The whole process was a rare opportunity to explore the steps needed to launch a brand from the designers in Chicago to manufacturing, marketing and developing a strategy. The breadth of freedom, though overwhelming at times, was highly rewarding. Having enjoyed the dynamic and diverse culture at Wrigley I was looking forward to my time in Chicago in mid-July.

I had never been to Chicago before and so could not wait to explore its renowned museums, art and music scene. The Wrigley team in Chicago welcomed me with great generosity and treated me to a downtown hotel, while taking my American friends to watch a baseball game with the Chicago Cubs fully immersed me in the city’s culture. Despite the Cubs’ heavy loss, Chicago won on the culinary front, as I was able to eat at some amazing restaurants. However, the real highlight of my trip was my time spent with both the global CEO and global CMO of Wrigley. This is because the priceless opportunity to hear advice from such prominent figures within the business will help me continue to develop and grow.

Since completing my internship at Wrigley, leaving with a job offer for 2015, I have moved to London with my twin brother, and have been focusing on my business, Wordme. Wordme is a producer of greetings cards, stationary and notebooks, based around our unique wordsearch design. Since the future business leader competition, I have secured an investor and am working in our office in Park Lane, London. We have also recently been named Royal Dutch Shell's UK Start-up of the month and in the ‘Hot 48’ start-ups of the year. We are currently expanding our range to over 45 designs and formats, and are set to launch our new designs by the end of this week, in time for the Christmas rush! Feel free to visit our website to discover our awesome ranges (and hopefully order some Christmas cards too!)

To sum it all up, 2014 has been exhilarating! Becoming the Future Business Leader of the Year has truly opened many doors. I will now be enjoying my time in London and fitting in some trips abroad before starting work in 2015.