Entrepreneur breaks barriers to become youngest trustee in theatre company’s history

Business School Global MBA candidate studying alongside CEO and Trustee roles

One of the UK’s brightest young entrepreneurs has been named the youngest Trustee in the history of one of the UK’s most established theatres.

Brandon Relph is one of seven new board members at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season. The REP, as it is commonly known, is recognised as being the predecessor and blueprint to the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre, among others.

Despite being just 21, Mr Relph’s first venture began eight years ago, turning his love for the video game ‘Minecraft’ into a company when he was 13 to expand to a team of 35 working across the world, earning praise from some of the leading names in technology, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

He is now the CEO of Studio BE, a technology and production company based in Brighton, and will be juggling his new responsibilities as a Trustee with his Global MBA at the Business School (formerly Cass).

Brandon Relph

Mr Relph, who went to almost 100 different performances in 2019 before the pandemic struck, says his work with young people is incredibly rewarding, citing it as the central reason behind his push to be appointed to the REP’s board.

“At the start of year I was looking at different ways to give back and when this opportunity came up I thought it was interesting. The REP has the largest youth theatre programme in the country yet there was an age gap on the board, which is common in trustee boards. Less than three per cent of trustees are under 30 and I thought my experience and interest would be powerful in helping them.

“Young people are the unspoken heroes as they are the future audience and cast members as well as the crew and front of house staff. My role is to be that critical friend and offer another perspective.

“A lot of the shows that are produced at the REP progress to the West End – such as ‘Nativity! The Musical’ and ‘The Snowman’. We need to have the mentality that every show is the next big West End show."

Working with Sir Howard Panter, co-founder of Ambassador Theatre Group, the world's number one live-theatre company, Mr Relph has committed a minimum of three years to the board.

Mr Relph, who is the first in his family to go to university, is combining his new responsibilities with his Global MBA, and says his business is already reaping the benefits.

“I believe this course can be life changing and you use the skills almost without realising. This Global MBA stood out because of the reputation of the School and the onboarding process, which was very personal and offered a real commitment to lifelong learning. I am the baby of the class, but I have experience and want to bring a different perspective.

“I am already incorporating a Studio BE social streaming service concept with the Business School’s entrepreneurial team in the Launch Lab. Also, some Studio BE interns were co-funded by City, so we are working closely together already.

“The stem that links them all is the desire to build my leadership skills. My business is the outlet for that, and the trustee position is about giving as much as it is about learning. I want the MBA to feed into it and give me the theoretical and practical foundation to grow.”

Dr Aneesh Banerjee, Course Director of the Global MBA, said: The Global MBA provides the perfect blend of a well-rounded high quality business education, delivered in a flexible format: online, on-campus, and internationally. This enables ambitious entrepreneurs as well as executives, who are simply too busy to take time off from work to get back to school, the opportunity to keep building their skills, knowledge, and networks needed to succeed in an ever-changing business landscape.”

More information on the Global MBA can be found on the Business School website.

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