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Dean, Wendy Loretto reflects on key developments at the Business School during the past year.

Having graduated from what is now University of Edinburgh Business School in 1990, I have watched the School grow significantly in expertise, diversity, and internationalism during the past three decades.

In 2017, we remained focused on research and enhancing the student experience – the bread and butter of our contribution to society and the economy.

Here are some of the year’s highlights.


This year’s Financial Times Global MBA ranking named the Edinburgh MBA the most gender-balanced of 100 global Business Schools. An accolade we can add to the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of our positive work to promote diversity and gender equality among students and faculty.

Launched in 2016, the second edition of the Executive Women’s Leadership Programme has now seen us work with close to 100 women from some of Scotland’s leading employers. The eight-month course addresses the current gap in women progressing to senior leadership.

The School also won the 2017 Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Diversity Award in recognition not only our diverse student community, but also the nurturing and open environments we create.

Student experience

In February, we challenged undergraduates to find business solutions to global social challenges in #makeyourmark. We brought it back in October – this time inviting students from Edinburgh College of Art, School of Literature, Language and Culture, and the School of Social and Political Sciences to join us.

There was a palpable buzz as teams spread across the building to work on ideas. In partnership with Social Investment Scotland – and with fantastic support from the Scottish Government – the events brought more than 50 companies including ASDA and Standard Life Investments together with social entrepreneurs from Social Bite, Edinburgh Tool Library, Heroes Vodka and many more.

The Startup Festival returned for a second time in March. Its mix of talks, networking, and workshops unpacking entrepreneurship, welcomed more than 1,400 attendances over one day.

Meanwhile postgraduates got hands-on with a Dixons Carphone digital challenge to develop new marketing and customer experience ideas as part of our partnership with the retailer, which has also brought a new MSc in Business Analytics and generous scholarships.

A team of MScs were also named ‘most innovative’ by the charity Children 1st, after raising more than £5,000 with an adult colouring book of iconic Edinburgh locations.

Beyond the classroom, our international outlook remains key. So many international partners and friends, like Santander, help us programme visits to major companies like Google and treks stretching from Ireland and India, to the Canary Islands and Colombia.

Global Challenges for Business is now a core part of our first year undergraduate programme. WH Smith CEO, Stephen Clarke launched the course with a lecture on leading Britain’s oldest chain of stores, while staying relevant in today’s uncertain and globalised world.

Research and engagement

We launched a new partnership with engineering solutions giant Costain. With the goal of identifying and reducing carbon in the construction supply chain, the project impressed judges at the Volvo Construction Climate Challenge to secure more than £250,000 in funding.

From ruminations on the hypocrisy of happiness, how CEOs’ cultural heritage could affect corporate performance, whether frugal entrepreneurs are too risky for angel investors, and if it pays them to plan, Business School insight made the headlines in 2017.

August saw the return of the popular Media Series at the Fringe, hosting conversations with well-known figures in politics and the media, including John Prescott and Jim Naughtie.

Later that month, the School once again welcomed more than 400 of the world’s leading credit practitioners and academics, for the agenda-setting Credit Scoring and Credit Control conference.

In December, we hosted James Doty for an executive masterclass on Compassion in the Age of Digital Disruption, an initiative by our University and CCARE at the University of Stanford, the beginning of an innovative collaboration.

2017 comes to a close with excellent news the Edinburgh Futures Institute has secured the largest ever capital donation to the University. Business School colleagues are playing a key role in the development of EFI, which will see the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary transformed into a state-of-the-art home for addressing some of the world’s most demanding issues.

Edinburgh remains an incredible place to study, live and work, with a strong financial industry and a growing reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative entrepreneurial hubs. We at University of Edinburgh Business School are looking forward to continuing our work as part of this dynamic, global community in the year to come.

Wendy Loretto is Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Dean of University of Edinburgh Business School.

Image by James Glossop.