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Source girl sitting down writing her next song

From BNU to boss: five alumni return to talk ‘making it’ in the music business

Buckinghamshire New University alumni and music magnates Lara Baker, Dhanny Joshi, Robyn Elton, Shikayla Nadine and Oliver Sheppard return to their roots for a special panel event on Wednesday 23 June, in collaboration with UK Music.

The one-off event will see the successful alum come together to reflect on their time at BNU and where their studies have subsequently taken them. The professionals will share their advice for making it in the music business in a post-COVID world and discuss the hottest topics in the industry today.

Students, graduates and industry professionals are invited to join the free, virtual event, where they can listen to a panel discussion, hosted by Paul Fields, BNU Senior Lecturer in the School of Media and Creative Industries, and a Q&A which will be open to the audience.


The impressive panel bring a wealth of experience from across the business, having garnered success as radio hosts, in music PR and publishing, at record labels and even branching into the world of film.

Lara Baker gained a first in BA (Hons) Music Industry Management in 2006 and is now the Director of Business Development for UK & Ireland at Songtrust. She says that her time at BNU gave her a foundational knowledge of all areas of the music business and the opportunity to connect with industry professionals through the extensive networks of academics.

Lara is an influential voice on improving diversity, gender balance and inclusivity in the music business. She commented: “I hope the event inspires current students and graduates towards success in music, but I also want them to be aware of the challenges still faced by women and minorities coming into the music industry.”

Lara Baker

Dhanny Joshi, another alumnus of BA (Hons) Music Industry Management and Marketing, shares Lara’s sentiments. Following the set-up of ‘Brit-Asian Mag’ magazine, and brokering a partnership that created Puffin’s first book series with an Asian lead character, Dhanny’s extensive repertoire in diversifying a wide variety of industries has led him to found Big Deal Films, the UK’s leading diverse-led, multi-genre and BAFTA-nominated production company. Dhanny looks forward to discussing diversity with the other panel members, specifically, ‘using your diverse background to your advantage and knowing when to pivot in your career.’

On his time at BNU, Dhanny said: “I learned the importance of PR through a module I studied at BNU and, from Russell Stone (Head of the School of Media and Creative Industries), I learned the value of professionalism and strategic thinking.”

Dhanny Joshi

Lara and Dhanny are also joined by Robyn Elton, Senior Account Manager at Spinnaker London and Founder of All My Friends,  who looks forward to discussing queer representation and mental health in creative industries; Shikayla Nadine, a 2017 graduate and Music Manager at SNM Management Ltd, who, alongside her up-and-coming career, is a radio host on the ‘Midday with Kay’ show; and Oliver Sheppard, who has five years at Warner Music UK under his belt and now works in Los Angeles as Vice-President of Creative Sync Licensing and Soundtracks at APG, within Atlantic Records.

I’m really excited about this event with our MAP (Music Academic Partnership) partner Buckinghamshire New University. Such events not only really offer those looking towards a career in music solid, applicable advice and amazing inspiration but also showcase the brilliant job universities do in training the next generation of the music industry.
To have such stellar alumni offer to share their experiences not only speaks volumes about the quality of the courses offered but also the warmth the graduates still feel for Buckinghamshire New University itself.
We at UK Music are exceptionally proud of the work our MAP partners do and hope you can join us to hear from these exceptionally successful graduate professionals.
Dr Oliver Morris Director of Education and Skills at UK Music