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Operating on little sleep

Professor Heather McGregor, Executive Dean

Faculty Blog

I have been testing my ability to operate on very little sleep. Going up from London to Edinburgh last week I travelled on the overnight train, branded the Caledonian Sleeper, which leaves Euston Station in London at 23:50 and arrives into Edinburgh at 07:20. This gives me the chance to attend a function in the evening in London and still be at EBS in plenty of time for my first meeting.

For those of you who have not had this experience, there are a few things to know. Firstly, the train gets to Scotland way before it needs to, so parks somewhere in the middle of the lowlands and then chugs on again soon after 6am, which inevitably wakes you up. Next, there are no en-suite bathrooms. Finally there are no showers, although when you arrive at Edinburgh Waverley station they give you a voucher for the public shower. Using the public shower was a much better experience that I expected, and I was tempted to steal the sign to put on my teenage son’s bathroom wall.

The other reason I had very little sleep in the last week is that I tried my hand at radio presenting. I have been a guest many times on radio shows but never presented one, so when I was invited to take over Jazz FM’s early morning Business Breakfast show I accepted with alacrity. It required a 04:30 start to be on air by 06:00, and despite having rehearsed the previous day I was very nervous. Talking about stocks and shares coherently at that hour of the day required more coffee than was good for me, especially as we were looking at the meteoric rise of the Apple share price after the launch of the iPhone 7. In the three days before I went on air, Apple’s market capitalisation had increased by more than US$50bn. That’s bigger than, say, the market capitalisation of the whole of National Grid, a large company in the FTSE-100.

I am going back on the 28th September to host the show again, but in the meantime if you want to hear what I sound like then you can listen to one of my regular podcasts for the Financial Times, Irreverent Questions.

The most recent of these, released earlier this month, looked at the UK’s drinks industry post-Brexit. The number of gin distilleries in the UK has more than doubled in recent years, and many of them have been started by graduates of Heriot-Watt’s degree programme and distilling and brewing.

Our students and alumni continue to be an inspiration to me, and sometimes even a surprise. When you watch celebrities around the world do you wonder how they ever find the time to pack everything into their life? (and look that good at the same time? Putting my makeup on in the public showers at Edinburgh Waverley station was challenging enough!). One of our high profile students in Nigeria, Caroline Danjuma, who is studying for our MBA with specialism in oil and gas, has a very busy life and a large social media following. When she recently posted a copy of her Organisational Behaviour certificate on Instagram, it reminded lots of people that continuing to invest in yourself is a great career choice. Congratulations, Caroline, and we look forward to you continuing your student journey with us.