21 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.

Robin Stewart

Director of Hospitality and Events, National Museum of Scotland Enterprises Ltd

In August 2021, almost as soon as the Government's pandemic restrictions were relaxed, the first commercial events resumed in the Museum. These were the first events to take place since we entered national lockdown in March 2020, and the interim period of closure caused a devastating impact on venue spaces, suppliers and contractors.

Robin Stewart

The current demand for domestic events is sporadic—while some clients have been keen to host events immediately, the majority remain hesitant and are reluctant to bring back live gatherings. On an international level too, clients are not yet returning to Edinburgh, even with the lifting of strict travel restrictions and the introduction of vaccine passports. We predict that from Easter 2022 there will be an increase in live events being hosted, many as a result of previously postponed events from the past two years. This is positive for the industry as it recovers from the financial crisis caused by little or no revenue throughout the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, there was already a staffing issue in the industry. This issue was further impacted by the Brexit referendum and then closely followed by waves of people changing career trajectories during the pandemic.

I started my EMBA scholarship with the Business School in December 2020, during a time where the event industry was feeling hopeful that events would be up and running again through 2021. However, this optimism was short-lived as the UK entered a second lockdown later that month, and the return to 'normal' was delayed and confidence further eroded.

Now a year into my EMBA, it is much clearer that the recovery from the pandemic will take time for the events industry. I have learned crucial new skill sets during my programme that will be critical to apply to my workplace as my industry recovers. All the courses to date have offered me new insights and real-life scenarios that will best equip me to return back to the workplace. My background is hospitality, having worked for international hotel companies for 16 years before joining the National Museum of Scotland five years ago. I have experience running my own hospitality consultancy and am passionate about attracting young people to the industry, to show them it is a lifelong career with huge opportunities.

One of the most important things that I learned through the Strategic Human Resource Management course was the emphasis on the vital importance of people to all businesses. Without people (either customers or colleagues) businesses simply would not be able to exist.

With the global labour shortage and the increased attraction of new industries, it is vital that the events (hospitality) industry works as one to remain an attractive option for the next generation and for those looking to join the industry.

In completing the Executive MBA, I am confident I will be able to use my new-found knowledge and skills to help change the industry for the better; for the city, the people who work in it, and for those who attend its events.