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AMBA award success for business graduate’s NFT fashion concept


Sonya Byrne

University of Bradford business graduate Sonya Bachra-Byrne has won a top award after developing a concept to sell virtual copies of her own fashion creations.

She has been named AMBA Student of the Year 2024 in the AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards, held on January 19 at the Park Plaza, London.

Sonya enrolled in the School of Management’s Executive MBA in 2020. She had previously taken part in Bradford Business Challenge, where she first worked with MBA students on solving real-world problems. During her time at Bradford, she helped develop the first ever MBA Summit.

As Paulo Freire [Brazilian philosopher and educator 1921-1997] astutely noted, 'Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.'

Sonya, who 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, designed NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to go alongside bespoke women’s fashion items.

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.

Sonya Byrne receiving her AMBA award

Above (from left): Dr Nick Snowden; Dr Suzanne Smit; Professor Sankar Sivarajah, Sonya Bachra-Byrne, Liam Byrne.

Commenting on her AMBA award win, she said: “I am deeply honoured and thrilled to have been awarded the AMBA Student of the Year 2024. 

“This recognition reinforces the profound impact of education as a catalyst for personal and collective transformation on multiple levels, extending beyond academic accomplishments. It underscores the pivotal roles of leadership, collaboration, and the creation of a vibrant and inclusive community, which, for me, has been a monumental experience.

“This award has fundamentally elevated my personal and professional development, sharpening my entrepreneurial abilities and equipping our start-up business with the skills needed to compete on the international stage.”

Sonya Byrne

She added: “As Paulo Freire [Brazilian philosopher and educator 1921-1997] astutely noted, 'Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.'

“I deeply believe in the transformative power of education, and winning this award reinforces the value of accredited MBAs in shaping the future leaders of the business world.

“I am committed to continuing my journey of contributing to the success of the MBA program, building meaningful connections, and making a positive and significant impact in both academia and the business world. This accolade serves as a powerful motivation for me to strive for excellence and to be a dedicated ambassador for the exceptional opportunities that accredited MBAs offer. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the University of Bradford School of Management, my invaluable business mentors, and the entire AMBA community for their overwhelming support.

“To those considering an MBA journey, I would wholeheartedly encourage you - it has the potential to truly change your life."

Sonya Byrne seated

Professor Sankar Sivarajah, Dean of the School of Management, said: “Sonya is an inspiration for current and future MBA students. She wants to make a difference in the world and she understands the power of education. She is a great ambassador for Bradford and our MBA programmes.”

The awards ceremony was attended by more than 200 business school leaders, as well as category finalists, judges and members of the media.

The AMBA Student of the Year Award plays a pivotal role in supporting AMBA’s pledge to support the MBA degree’s status as the leading international business qualification.

The University of Bradford’s 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.

Andrew Main Wilson, Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association (AMBA & BGA) said: “On behalf of the AMBA and BGA team, I would like to congratulate the finalists and winners of this year’s Excellence Awards.

“This year, the competition was stronger than ever. The entries who have made the final shortlist in each category should feel proud of their achievements. 

“Additionally, the students and graduates who have been shortlisted as finalists today have all used their qualifications to achieve a spectrum of impressive results, in terms of the positive impact they have made to business, education and society as a whole.

Sonya Byrne

“It was thrilling to be able to celebrate the AMBA network’s achievements at this glamorous Gala Dinner - in particular its been amazing to celebrate exceptional innovations and successes in the higher management education industry.

“I also want to take the opportunity to thank our partners, Kortext, Canvas by Instructure, Cesim Business Simulations, Perlego and BlueSky Education. Their support for our awards – and the business education sector – is greatly appreciated.”