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You’re hired! The NTU alum who made thousands during his studies tells us how Sir Alan Sugar changed his life (and how Jeremy Kyle delayed his graduation)

Ross Testa didn’t have what you might call a typical university experience. Today, he runs
3 Heads Agency, a family-owned business specialising in video content creation, social media and personal brand management.

Ross Testa
Ross Testa

At the age of 26, Ross has featured in the BBC series CEO Secrets, appeared in Forbes magazine, and won numerous awards in recognition of his success as a young entrepreneur.

Keen to get a decent business education first, Ross came to NTU to study our BA Honours Business Management In Company degree.

By year two of his degree, Ross was already holding down a successful full-time placement role at Microsoft. He’d combine this with managing his then-fledging social media agency – which even then was bringing in around £2,000 a month.

His evenings? Dedicated to study. It’s tiring just thinking about it.

We eventually managed to secure a slot in Ross’s diary. Talking by video call, we’re keen to know what he was like as a student. He must have been the life and soul of the party.

“I sadly didn’t have time,” Ross says.

We must have misheard.

“Nope. In 2018, in what should have been my last year at university, I was hired to work with one of The Apprentice winners. Then other companies became interested in our services – like Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing. The business made around £180,000 that year. That’s when I thought to myself wow this could actually be something.”

Success however, didn't come without its drawbacks.

“There were compromises," Ross says. "There's one particular event I will always remember. It was the classic Wednesday visit to Ocean nightclub. All my friends were off to party, but I needed to be in Peterborough that evening to film live streams to promote a book launch for one of The Apprentice winners. Balancing a social life, studying for your degree, and running a business – the three things just weren’t compatible.”

If you check Ross’s own social media presence, it’s full of pictures of him with the likes of Richard Branson, Sir Alan, Anthony Joshua, Olly Murs, Perrie Edwards – and we’re pleased to say – photos taken at his NTU graduation.

“People didn’t really know who we [the agency] were at that point,” Ross says, “so it was a conscious business decision to promote ourselves and create our own social media persona.

“Then we found companies like Just Eat, Chelsea Football Club, Lego, TUI, Silverstone, and other amazing businesses were coming to us. Up until 2022, we didn’t do any company advertising. It was just me sharing who we’d worked with and what we’d been working on.”

If ever you needed to define what the face of a social media ‘persona’ might look like, it’s probably Ross. Although, it’s reassuring to know he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

“Sorry, before we continue,” he says, “this Teams video call isn’t going to be shown anywhere, is it?” “I’ve not had time to do my hair.”

You’d hardly notice. We quickly point out the recording is purely for note-taking purposes, and that we haven’t done our own hair either (what’s left of it).

Ross famously ‘hired’ his own father and sister to join the agency. Maybe he’s invented a new thing – nepotism, but in reverse?

“Hah! A lot has been made of me ‘hiring’ my dad and sister,” he says. “But in fact, it makes perfect business sense. Dad has worked for decades in newspaper print advertising, and my Sister Jodie grew up with me around social media helping me with any of the work I was doing. We're good together as a family unit and it’s not just family-run but family-owned now too. Us three are all shareholders in the business.”

To ingratiate ourselves, we ask whether Ross gets his charm and good looks from his dad.

“Ask him yourself,” he says – turning the webcam slightly to the left, where unbeknown to us, Ross's dad Roy has been sitting all along.

“I like this interview a lot!” Roy says. “Although I’ve also not had time to style my hair."

Ross finally graduated in 2022 – seven years after beginning his studies.

“I always intended to complete the degree,” he says. “Then in the last year of university, things really took off. I had the chance to produce an advert campaign with Jeremy Kyle. It was such a dilemma. I was securing these business opportunities I’d only ever dreamed of, but they risked impacting my studies.

“In the end, I decided to take the opportunity. The advert was a great success and led to us attracting so many new clients. To cut a long story short, it’s all been such a whirlwind since, I was determined to graduate though even if it was seven years later on from when I started as it meant so much to both me and my family.

"The degree taught me so many key fundamentals of business, and I probably got the most out of it because I was living and breathing business every day.”

There it is. As we said earlier, Jeremy Kyle really did delay Ross’s graduation.

And what of those considering their own career in social media?

“You need to work out why you’re doing it," Ross advises. "You always need a plan. People underestimate how difficult it is to get traction out there these days. It’s an unbelievably crowded market.”