Alum of the Month - June 2022

Simona Deifta

Studying with the LSE Department of Management was an important credential for investors.

 simona-deifta edit

  • Programme studied: BSc Management
  • Year of Graduation: 2015

Simona Deifta (BSc Management, 2015) is the Founder of Nojō. After having a baby whilst completing her degree, she raised angel investment to open a café and then again to restructure the business to what it is today.  

What is your current job title and what does this role entail? 

I am the founder of Nojō, essentially what I do is everything: sales, accounts, HR, supply chain. Today, however, my role is shifting to raise more funds and oversee brand development as a whole and ensure our market share is growing.  

Since my team has been growing, I have taken a more project management role; overseeing that deadlines are met, that key accounts are happy, and checking weekly and monthly reports rather than day-to-day activities. I am using the Enterprise Investment Scheme to raise £500,000 from angel investors at this moment.  

On a normal day, I wake up and do normal activities like any mum: breakfast, school run, then I will do a workout if I did not do it before my son woke up, after that work begins. Usually, I have a prepared list of things to do the day before, it will be a mixture of internal and external meetings, planning for marketing activities, meetings with investors, presentations for clients - they take a long time and always require attention to detail as each client wants to know what you will do for them and what will drive value. A lot of my day is also reading market research and understanding what is happening in the industry as a whole. De. Depending on the day, I finish quite early between 4 and 6 pm to do school pick up, after-school activities, and dinner. Then it’s back to work for me. 

Where have you worked previously? 

I gained an internship in Bank of America Merill Lynch between my 2nd and 3rd year of my BSc Management when I found out that I was pregnant. It was then that I realised that I want to do my own thing where my passion lies and started Nojō. This was 2015 and the food scene in London, especially if you want to eat plant-based, was not rich. While working at the Bank of America, I realised my nutrition was not benefiting my energy levels, either I ate fast food for a quick dopamine fix or a boring salad. Nojo was something between these two. It was fast and nutritious but at the same time delicious. As I like to put it slow food for fast-paced lives. Being pregnant made this issue an urgency for me and I wanted to give people like myself a fix that they would actually enjoy eating.  

How has BSc Management helped your career since graduating? 

To this day I will reread books that we studied in LSE and find so much value in what we learned during the course. I remember my first ever coursework we did was Difficult Conversations only and when I started my business, I truly understood the meaning of this and felt prepared when I had to face them. 

Also questioning information, understanding team building, project management, and supply chain are all the things I learned at LSE and am using daily. The most important skill I learned during my time is to process a lot of information quickly.  

Studying with the LSE Department of Management was also an important credential for investors. 

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received? 

Careers are not linear and not obvious. Focus on what you love and look out for opportunities. 

I attended a speaker lecture at the Peacock Theatre and he said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity". This quote, attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, has been with me ever since. 

What’s the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome? 

Having a small business, lack of experience and a baby means dealing with a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and content cash flow. At the same time, one must show the investors that they believe and can 100% deliver.  

What are your hopes for the future?  

I hope to continue growing Nojō and expanding our range while moving into a tech space. Although we live in an incredible age there is still just not enough help for women out there and this is my next passion!