28 February 2022

In December 2020, the Business School announced that it was awarding fully-funded scholarships to professionals from Edinburgh’s world-famous live events sector, in support of the long-term future of the city’s economy through the Covid-19 crises. Now one year on, we hear from the Scholars as they reflect on their progress within the Executive MBA course.

Fi Morley

Experienced venue director and tourism professional

When I joined the Executive MBA programme we were six months into the pandemic and I had recently been made redundant due to Covid. I had been a venue director responsible for all hospitality and events for a major sporting venue that had been heavily impacted. Not only had government restrictions prevented them from operating commercially, but they had also become a 'bubble' as a training ground for their local and national team, which made access to the venue very challenging. There was a huge lack of confidence in the marketplace from customers and suppliers, and there was constant industry news about firms going under. As an external contractor working in this area all commercial activity had ceased apart from the HR functions managing head counts.

Fi Morley

Since then, confidence has slowly increased due to the vaccine rollout. The industry has been very keen to present a united positive front to aid return to some sort of normality. Cautious site visits from agents have started as everyone was keen to see people again. The inbound events market is still depressed with international business tourism the last market to return. Industry advises that it may take five years to regain losses and to return to 2019 international tourism levels. It is hoped that across 2022/23 industry will begin to stabilise, demand start to grow, and confidence begin to build. The wedding and leisure industry has managed to bounce back which is a great opportunity to recoup a little of the lost revenue from the last few years due to displaced events and pent-up demand. Overall people want to feel good and return safely to normal!

Brexit combined with Covid has had a huge effect on the supply chain and the availability of labour which has been well documented in the news. CSR has come into greater focus with the planning and implementation of events, in part due to the impact of COP26 in Glasgow, and in part due to general acceptance of the science.

Being an Executive MBA scholar has provided me with the tools to move conversations with key partners forward. With the enforced break due to Covid, the learning provided has allowed me to come back into the marketplace with new skills and confidence. As someone who graduated many years ago it has opened my mind to key knowledge and understanding, and has enabled me to articulate business in a different manner.

The mentoring process combined with the career coaching has provided insights into my own personal style and allowed me to embrace my strengths and focus on them, unlocking future potential.

The upcoming electives give an opportunity to add to my portfolio of skills; currently I hope to study negotiations, entrepreneurship, and sustainability in business. All key areas that will be required to assist the rebuilding of the hospitality and events industry post-pandemic. I plan to use my Capstone project as a framework for my own personal business plan, giving me an opportunity to analyse, assess, and strength-test the marketplace.

The Executive MBA gives me the skills and language that I need post-pandemic and post-Brexit to maximise future opportunities. Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks!