Global Alumni Day is an annual half-day event hosted at the Business School that welcomes current and former students back on campus to connect while exchanging knowledge and perspectives on a topical issue. The theme of this year’s event was AI with the tagline: “Whose Business is AI?”. It aimed to improve our understanding of what AI technology can do and how it might impact our lives and careers. Yen, an MSc. Human Resource Management student who attended the event, shares her experience.
Current and former students at the Global Alumni Day 2024 stand

During my studies at the University of Edinburgh Business School, I have been learning about how Artificial Intelligence is assisting HR operations and drastically transforming job markets. That’s why I signed up to join Global Alumni Day 2024 after hearing about the topic and lineup of speakers. The schedule included a keynote speech from technology and cybersecurity analyst, Ritesh Kotak; a talk on Robot Souls by author and leadership expert, Dr Eve Poole OBE; a presentation on the future of AI in the workplace by Professor Michael Rovatsos, plus many more guests and panels.

The insights shared in each of these sessions dived into the impact of AI on our workforce as well as how corporations are applying AI to their business operations. For example, one alumnus demonstrated how their company was combining AI and Robotics, something I’d never thought about until now. In another panel, they discussed the potential of an AI arms race where countries could invest several resources into developing their AI industry and defences. This provoked me to think about my home country and how Vietnamese companies would be able to compete in such a costly industry.

Whose Business Is AI?

A standout moment for me was when Ritesh Kotak asked “Whose business is AI?” in his keynote speech. His answer, “It’s all of our business!”, took me by surprise. People often talk about avoiding AI because it isn’t relevant to their industry or that it only impacts developed countries. But in fact, this powerful technology possesses both threats and opportunities to all of us and if we don’t upskill ourselves to better understand how to use it effectively, we might be limiting our prospects in the future. So, Ritesh explained that it’s necessary to master the skills to take advantage of AI which, in turn, will boost productivity and performance.

Current and former students in conversation at the Global Alumni Day 2024

Your network is your net worth

Throughout the day, we had the chance to meet with University of Edinburgh alumni from all over the world. For example, the keynote speaker of the event, Ritesh Kotak, who finished his MBA programme in 2017. He now dedicates his career to exploring how emerging technology will impact society and is a renowned motivational speaker in Canada and across the globe. I also spoke with alumni graduates spanning from 1989 to 2023. We exchanged ideas about AI and discussed job hunting and working experience tips. Their insights taught me about the UK working culture and the opportunities that might await after graduation. People say “your network is your net worth” and after this event, I couldn’t agree more. Connecting with former students at Global Alumni Day has made me realise how valuable it is to be part of a global network of professionals, especially when developing your career.

Attending Global Alumni Day 2024 has encouraged me to seriously sharpen my AI literacy and skills. As a HR student interested in Organisational Development activities, the knowledge I gathered and conversations I had with Business School peers (past and present) will be extremely helpful in my future career. I look forward to returning to this event next year as a newly-graduated member of the alumni network and to paying my experience forward.