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AMBA award nomination for business graduate’s NFT fashion concept


Sonya Byrne

University of Bradford business graduate Sonya Byrne has been shortlisted for a top award after developing a concept to sell virtual copies of her own fashion creations.

Sonya, from Bradford, who enrolled on the School of Management’s Executive MBA in 2020, designed NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to go alongside bespoke women’s fashion items, which she also created.

The concept formed part of her end-of-year project and garnered a score of over 90% - now her efforts have also been recognised by Masters in business accreditation body AMBA,  which has shortlisted her for its MBA Student of the Year Award 2024.

Judges praised her “exceptional entry” and invited her to attend the final at Park Plaza London Riverbank Hotel, on January 19.

Sonya, pictured below, spent 15 years working for some of the biggest names in fashion - including Inditex, Miroglio and BESTSELLER - before starting her own business,,with husband Liam.

Sonya Byrne

She said: “I’m thrilled to be shortlisted for the AMBA Student of the Year Awards. It is a prestigious award from an organisation that is globally recognised; and of course, Bradford’s School of Management is AMBA-accredited.

“Completing my MBA at Bradford has been one of the best things I have ever done. I have already worked in industry and overcome many challenges, but what the MBA did was give me the tools, and a formal language to better understand some of those processes and management tools.”

Sonya set up AVIE in 2019 to cater for discerning clientele. When the pandemic hit, she pivoted to online trading and hit on the concept of promoting her wares using NFTs, which are gaining popularity as a means of making products unique.

She said: “The idea was to create a one-of-a-kind piece of digital art based on ‘look-book’ collections of my fashion designs - the NFT is something very rarely seen in the SME fashion space, so it makes it unique cutting-edge.

“There is also a burgeoning industry in designing digital avatar clothing for the Metaverse, which is something I am also exploring and experimenting with.”

MBA summit

During her time at the University of Bradford Sonya became a student representative and - between lockdowns - was instrumental in organising the first ever Bradford MBA summit, a three-day event to bring industry stakeholders and students together.

She said: “Part of the draw of the MBA was the networking but that was made more difficult by the pandemic, when most teaching went online. We came up with the idea of an MBA leadership summit and it proved very successful.”

Dean of the School of Management Professor Sankar Sivarajah said: “I’m very proud that one of our graduates has been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the higher education sector. AMBA accreditation is widely recognised as a mark of quality.

“Sonya is also an inspiration to existing and future students and she is a great ambassador for Bradford. Her achievements show the power of an MBA. We wish her all the best for the awards.”

The School of Management is one of the top 1% of business schools to hold triple accreditation by AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB. This year it will mark its 60th anniversary.