David McCausland tells us about his role as a Professor of Economics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Business School, as well as his passion for history and strong coffee.  

Tell us about your role at the University.

My main role at the University is as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Business School. The School delivers six substantial undergraduate degree programmes attracting an intake of around 400 students each year. So, there is plenty to keep me busy! My main focus is the management and development of the undergraduate academic student experience on our King’s College campus. For example, last year we developed a new flagship International Business programme. This included developing innovative courses that tackle important issues facing an increasingly globalised business environment. These courses, which don’t have final exams, turn conventional teaching on its head and approach learning from an issues based perspective. Our inaugural group of first year students are already tackling big issues like inequality, climate change and financial crises, drawing upon tools and concepts from different disciplines. All students have the option of including one of five modern languages in their curriculum, and study a specialism from one of our business disciplines. In the 5-year variant of the programme, students spend a year abroad on a placement. The integration of what we do on campus with wider business engagement will, I believe, further enhance the employability of our future graduates.

How do you usually start your day?

Usually by dealing with email over a strong black coffee! My schedule for every day is very different. One of the great attractions of academic life is the flexibility and variety of activities. In any one day I can be giving lectures to undergraduates, meeting colleagues to shape the future direction of the school, or writing research or scholarship outputs.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

Before I came to Aberdeen, I worked at Warwick Business School on projects for Nuclear Electric and the Central Statistical Office. I had considered a career in university administration, but then pursued doctoral study at the University of Keele, which ultimately led to a research and teaching career. When considering my options back in 1995, I thought a few years in Scotland would be nice, and 23 years later I am still here! Aberdeen is a fantastic, welcoming and safe city, which I am proud to now call home.

What's your favourite thing about your job?

The thing I enjoy most is teaching students. In the Business School we have a very high proportion of international students. In my second year course, for example, well over half of my students are from outside the UK. Over the last decade entry qualifications have improved and this ability combined with their excellent work ethic makes for an intensely rewarding experience. To have the opportunity to motivate and inspire young people is both exciting and humbling. And it is so important, given the challenges that lie ahead, for students to understand how economic policy can be harnessed for the good of all in society. Economic and financial literacy will be an increasingly important skill for people to be able to make informed choices in the future.

What are your work priorities at the moment?

The Business School is going through a period of exciting growth at present, and it is fantastic to be part of the team developing our priorities and strategies. Over the past two years we have developed new international collaborations and introduced a range of online programmes. We have moved, at least in part, to a landmark building, and have set out on the road to achieving AACSB accreditation for the School, and I hope that this momentum is maintained. However, one of the areas I am most passionate about is widening access, and we are developing a wide range of initiatives that are likely to be of increasing importance in a rapidly changing environment over the next few years.

How do you like to relax outside work?

One of my great passions is local history – I am an avid collector of old maps and manuscripts relating to the planning and development of Sheffield, the city of my birth – though I also read widely the transport history and local history of other areas too, including, of course, Aberdeen. I am a keen photographer and enjoy electronic music. The only constraint is too little time!