14 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.
Susan Russell - EMBA Scholarship blog

Susan Russell

Head of Marketing at Pike + Bambridge

In December 2020, while starting as an EMBA scholar, I was also launching Edinburgh’s very first virtual Hogmanay. An event synonymous with Scottish culture and celebration, for the first time in its history it was to be enjoyed by family and friends from the comfort of their own homes as the UK entered another lockdown. We were optimistic about the reception to Fare Well (Scotland’s first mass drone show) but we had no idea that it would go on to be viewed by a global audience of 6 million: it was featured on TV screens around the world, from China and Australia to India, the USA and even the Seychelles!

Over the course of the last 12 months I’ve watched as the events and tourism industry has been decimated by a pandemic we never saw coming, and at worst thought would last a few weeks. In addition to my day job, I’m also the Founder and Chair of Women In Tourism, a national not-for-profit organisation. The impacts of Covid-19 have been far-reaching, and while some in the sector have seen pockets of recovery and, vitally, income, for many they’re now looking to late 2022/early 2023 before they can see any acorns of growth for previously thriving businesses.

I was extremely fortunate and grateful to receive one of the scholarship places offered by the University of Edinburgh, to complete the EMBA and join the most recent cohort. Our journey started virtually, then moved to hybrid delivery, and most recently it’s been great to continue our studies on campus, and learn and share with colleagues from across many sectors.

My contract with Underbelly ended in February 2021, as the events sector was unsure when recovery would truly start. In April I took up a new post as Head of Marketing at Pike + Bambridge, a premium car leasing business. One of the key pieces of feedback I had from my Managing Director when I first started is how valued my EMBA is. Part of our culture is to be a ‘student of the game’ and continued personal and professional development is a key component of this. In monthly management meetings I share insights from EMBA lectures and tutorials, and these are a great opportunity to share key learnings across our organisation. As our industry looks to 2022 and continued recovery, I’m excited to be undertaking a Supply Chain elective and further study into digital transformation. Both these modules will provide critical knowledge to me as we build on recovery and enter a significant period of planned growth. I’m very much looking forward to my continuing EMBA journey.