#MakeYourMark 2023 was one of the most insightful, engaging experiences I have had during my 4 years at the University of Edinburgh Business School and was a weekend that I thoroughly enjoyed. From the catering team to the event organisers, each individual’s contribution to the event was invaluable, and I am sure that I can speak on behalf of everyone in saying that it was an unforgettable weekend (with lots of great food!).
Networking and Knowledge-sharing
A personal highlight from the weekend was the networking session that kicked us off. We were met by Michelle Courtemanche from Edinburgh Innovations and were encouraged to mix with individuals from different years, schools and programmes. This session alone demonstrated the diverse variety of undergraduate students that had signed up to the event. It served as an icebreaker, honing my networking skills and my overall confidence in speaking within this type of environment.
Another highlight followed this with an informative panel led by Augusto Rocha, lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, joined by Bethany Biggar, Kelly Hynd, and Lewis Scott: three individuals with a vast amount of experience in the third sector. The panel was a great way to shift our mindset into that of a third sector organisation, where we were able to learn the structure of a social enterprise and the challenges they face while gaining advice as a group of 70+ aspiring entrepreneurs sat in front of them! It was a fascinating insight into how organisations in their sector operate and recognise the source of their motivation in tackling social issues.
The #MakeYourMark Challenge
For the #MakeYourMark challenge, I was assigned to a team with students ranging from first to fourth years, in which we were all able to bring unique opinions and experiences to form our start-up ‘reLive’, specifically designed to tackle the issue of climate change. Each group was given a designated facilitator to guide their team and help brainstorm ideas. Our team was lucky enough to be joined by Dr Pawel Orzechowski, Lecturer in Business Programming, who contributed massively to the process, sharing his expertise and support, as well as his charisma! This experience working with a diverse group of students improved my collaborative ability and leadership skills in contributing to the creation of our start-up. Despite facing challenges with our business model throughout the weekend, our team was able to build on each idea and thrive when delivering a successful pitch on Sunday to three wonderful judges who questioned each team with great curiosity: Lorna Baird, Mary Brennan and Martin Gannon.
I loved watching each team’s pitch on Sunday because each pitch and business model was unique to the social issue they were tackling, and having the chance to see each team’s workflow was an exceptionally rewarding experience. My peers and I had never presented in front of such a large audience before this weekend and so we were met with nervous excitement prior to the pitch, however, having this experience has certainly helped to develop our confidence and presentation skills. Finally, our team ‘reLive’, was awarded as one of the two winners of #MakeYourMark 2023, where we won an ethical gift box that included treats from Social Stories Club, as well as three coaching sessions with Alice Thompson, Professional Purpose Coach!
Overall, #MakeYourMark 2023 is an event that I am proud to say I have participated in, and certainly a weekend that I would recommend to all undergraduate students who want to get out of their comfort zone and embark on a challenge, whilst building long-lasting friendships and having fun. A huge thank you to all the staff who organised such an amazing weekend for us and made it a highlight of the Business School calendar!
Ryu Harada is an Undergraduate student on our Business Management MA (Hons) programme.