13 December 2018

Wendy Loretto, Dean, reflects on the past year and looks ahead to 2019, our 100th year of business education in Edinburgh.
Image of Wendy Loretto

As I look back on our achievements in 2018, there is a real sense of living our history. In 2019, we celebrate 100 years of business education at the University of Edinburgh. Our founders didn’t sit around and wait for things to happen. Keen to write the future, in 1919 they raised substantial funds to start the city’s first business and accounting degree.

We’re still a place that innovates and tries new things. In 2018, the second edition of our 48-hour social impact challenge, #makeyourmark, brought a terrific buzz of new ideas to the School. This time we invited students from Edinburgh College of Art, Political and Social Science, and Literatures, Languages and Cultures to join in. We also welcomed a Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) challenge which saw students coming up with ideas to tackle global questions, such as climate change, access to credit, future skills, technology, and the pensions sector.

Since our first student walked through the doors in 1919, we’ve strived to be inclusive. Margaret Stevenson Miller went on to lecture at the University of Liverpool, where she gained national recognition for her work on women in finance. But when she was dismissed after her marriage in the 1930s, her story became the centrepiece for the ‘Right of Married Women to Earn’ campaign.

Today we are recognised as one of the world’s leading schools for diversity. Our MBA is among the top five most gender-balanced programmes in the Financial Times top 100. 58% of our students and 43% of our faculty are women. Our School community is made up of people from more than 60 countries.

This year, I had the pleasure of being invited to join a new group of academic and business leaders to champion inclusivity in research. The new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Equality Diversity and Inclusion advisory group will work with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government, to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

Our research matters to the world. In 2018 we examined:

We’re working on new models of carbon capture and storage. Our faculty are collaborating with Suzhou Research Institute, the UK-China Guangdong CCUS Centre, and BHP to find a solution that will positively contribute to climate change. It’s a significant £1.1m research project over the next two years.

We’re also very active in the China-UK Low Carbon College (LCC) in Shanghai, working to jointly deliver the MSc in Carbon Finance, and we have plans to further exchange talent, technology and resources to tackle global environmental challenges. The following film explains our impact on these and other major global challenges such as improving young peoples’ financial capability.

Our internationalism extends to teaching and learning. In 2018, our students visited businesses from Asia to South America, to learn about global context. Business School undergraduates recently joined students from economics, geography, biology, and fashion on a trek to explore India’s $200bn textile industry. The group of 32 followed the cotton supply-chain, from the pickers and growers of Gujarat, to the fashion houses of Mumbai. You can relive their experience by watching the following video.

The President of Colombia honoured International Business and Emerging Markets students and course leader Professor Simon Harris with the country’s top award for exports and cooperation. The accolade recognises the outstanding work they’ve done with more than 35 social enterprises from the Medellin incubator, RutaN.

Despite our global presence, we remain in and of Edinburgh. Through the Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club we have built a community of close to 3,000 local business people, entrepreneurs, staff, students and researchers all keen to meet, network and learn from each other.

The third Startup Festival welcomed 750 students and entrepreneurs for a full day of talks, workshops and networking. Meanwhile our alumni network has grown to be a strong, well-connected community of more than 16,000 successful leaders and influencers, both in Edinburgh and around the world.

We’ve also continued to host world-class conferences. The International Research Society for Public Management Conference on creating value in public service delivery welcomed more than 600 delegates from 50 counties. The Time to Act Conference saw business leaders and researchers come together to address the challenges and opportunities of shifting demographics in Scotland.

In 2018, we consolidated our reputation as one of the warmest, most diverse, and human business schools in the world. I look forward to 2019, when we’ll be inviting our friends to celebrate 100 years of business education at the University of Edinburgh.

Wendy Loretto

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