It's good to be back - Chartered ABS annual conference 2021

03 December 2021

Director of Business School Services Ian Hawkings celebrates the arrival of conference season.


623 days – yes I counted – since my last in-person event, and it’s like we haven’t been away. 

In early November the Chartered Association of Business Schools met for their annual conference, and I have to say, it was nice to see familiar faces – not a bookcase or blurred background in sight. 

Everyone seemed delighted to be present and, as the Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School, Wendy Loretto noted, the excitement could be measured in decibels as delegates got reacquainted over lunch on the first day. 
Over the ensuing two days at County Hall on the banks of the Thames, we were treated to a series of excellent panels and breakouts – and some of the best conference catering I've encountered.... 

Highlights included a lively opening panel discussion on the role business schools have to play in the future prosperity of the UK, chaired by the ever-provocative (in a good way) Robert Macintosh, from Northumbria University, and an inspiring discussion around inclusion and diversity, led by the aforementioned Prof. Loretto. This session featured a fascinating contribution from Sir Geoff Palmer – Windrush generation scientist, master brewer, inventor, and now Chancellor of Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. 

The conference concluded with a panel on perhaps the topic of the moment, given that COP 26 was ongoing north of the border as we convened in London – sustainability, and the role business schools have to play in making our world liveable for the generations to come. Contributions from the panel – particularly Dr Mette Morsing, from PRME at the United Nations Global Compact were both inspiring and stark. 

So, I think I can speak for all of this year’s delegates when in say ‘hats off’ to the organisers – notably, Anne Kiem, Barney Roe, Oliver Lowe and their team. Organising a timely, well attended and relevant event in the current climate is nothing short of impressive. 

Here’s hoping we can carry on next year. 


Photo from Matheus Bertelli, from Pexels.


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