25 February 2020

Ekow Ware Appiah talks about Student Development workshops, skills sessions, and the Edinburgh Award for Professional Development he participated in this year.
Edinburgh Award participants at the Edinburgh Army Barracks

One of the best things about studying at the University of Edinburgh Business School has been the myriad of opportunities available for students to develop themselves, not only academically but professionally. Through the Student Development Team, many workshops, seminars, skill sessions, and student-led initiatives were organised throughout the year, which gave us the opportunity to gain soft skills that will be immensely useful in our professional and personal lives. A major initiative of the University which I am glad I took part in is the 'Edinburgh Award for Professional Development'.

The Edinburgh Award seeks to recognise and reward students who have actively sought to maximise their impact and excel in their own professional development by taking part in activities outside the classroom. These are organised over the course of their programme, culminating with the award of a certificate that recognises their efforts.

Start of the Journey

My journey on the award began with a group session where we were given more information on the finer details of the award, and instructed to pick skills we would like to acquire or improve throughout the year. We prepared journals where we reflected on what our ideal self would look like at the end of the award, and developed strategies on how we thought we could make this ideal self a reality. The semester continued with balancing school work, adapting to life in Edinburgh, creating memories with friends, and making time to attend the various skills sessions that were organised for participants of the award. It was a very frantic but fun period.

A highlight of the first semester's award activities was taking part in a mandatory coaching session with an accredited coach. This was an immensely helpful activity. It was a 60-minute conversation where my fears, insecurities, thoughts, motivations, and aspirations were dissected, bisected, pulled out of my mind like I was under a spell, then put back in again. I remember leaving that meeting confused, but strangely exhilarated, because my coach had helped me to develop a plan of action that would guide me throughout the year, and help me develop the various skills I had set out to gain.

Edinburgh Award Participants at the Edinburgh Army Barracks

Beginning of the End

Fast forward to the second group session of the Edinburgh Award, the beginning of the end of our journey. It kicked off with a welcome back speech from the Student Development Team, followed by a talk from Gavin Oattes. He was an interesting speaker who mixed wit and metaphors to impart some sound advice. One thing that stuck in my head from his speech was how, in order to succeed in life, "you need to be purposeful in whatever it is you do or want to achieve". Very sound advice. The second semester has again been a period of running around the Business School, going to lectures, attending the 100-and-1 meetings we always seem to have, but also making sure to attend the various skill sessions organised around the Edinburgh Award.

So far, the highlight of the second semester has been the leadership session that was organised in collaboration with the Edinburgh leadership academy at the Edinburgh Army Barracks. We took part in exciting outdoor activities that the army usually reserves for identifying officers within its ranks. It was a fun day of activities and networking, and making new friends from across the Business School.

As our time at the University draws to a close and we come to the end of the Edinburgh Award, I feel confident about facing the world with the skills I have gained, and look forward with excitement to what lies in store after University.

Ekow Ware Appiah

Ekow Ware Appiah is studying for the MSc in Management