University of Edinburgh entrepreneurship trainer, Dr Liita Cairney, on her day on campus

I’m not a natural early riser, but I’m the mother of a five-year-old boy and two kittens (named Love and Heart). Kittens usually wake up and want to feed at this time. They let me know by scratching at my bedroom door.

Whenever I wake up groggy, I use the audio to tune into my body, ground myself in my physical location, and mentally plan for my day. The Use Your Menstrual Cycle Education I developed for Firstperiod.Org uses this kind of constant awareness of one’s mind and environment by using the menstrual cycle as a framework.

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I usually practice meditation on a yoga mat in my living room, in child’s pose or corpse pose.

Dr Ndalinoshisho Liita-Iyaloo Cairney with her baby

We live in the Murrayfield area of ​​Edinburgh. My son is currently in Primary One at a school five minutes walk from home. However, the two of us rushing through the streets of our neighborhood to get to school on time was a common sight. After school drop-off, I usually head to the University of Edinburgh George Square campus to my office in Appleton Tower. I have the option of taking a tram, bus, taxi, or walking. Most mornings, I catch the tram from the Murrayfield Rugby Stadium tram stop and get off at the Princes Street stop.

I love living in Edinburgh. It’s a walkable city that’s well preserved and proudly displays Scotland’s intellectual history through its buildings and free art.

On my 10-15 minute walk from the Princes Street tram stop to my office, up the Mound, along North Bank Street, and then onto the University of Edinburgh campus via the George IV Bridge, I appreciate the following that iconic landmark: Princes Street Gardens; Scottish National Gallery; The University of Edinburgh School of Divinity; the Currency Museum and the National Museum. At the statue of David Hume, I crossed the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle and passed St. Giles’ Cathedral, where I saw the body of Queen Elizabeth II lying in bed with my friend Cherry on September 13 2022.

My job role at the University of Edinburgh is as an entrepreneurship trainer for undergraduates, postgraduate students and staff in the School of Informatics. Although I report directly to the Director of Commercialization and Industry Relations at the School of Informatics (Jim Ashe), I also work closely with the Personal Chair of Software Innovation and Director of Instruction at the School of Informatics (Bjorn Franke ). My office is on the 8th floor of Appleton Tower. It’s spacious and sunny, with large windows, and great views.

On any given day, I go and chat with various colleagues who also have offices on the same floor. This includes the Informatics Learning Technology course development support team, the Informatics Teaching Organization and fellow undergraduate student mentors in the Informatics University Teachers team. Each of these groups is dedicated to helping me develop coursework and digital platforms.

My morning routine usually consists of reviewing my email and Microsoft Outlook calendar. I confirm my meetings for the day and respond to any urgent emails.

Unless absolutely necessary, I try not to have meetings between 10am and 11am. I like to spend an hour writing on my computer and planning for my coursework, and reflecting on the notes I took in earlier meetings. I am a prolific note taker. I always have a notebook with me. I have more than 20 notebooks that I have filled with my thoughts since I became an entrepreneur in 2013. They have proven to be very useful. The rest of my morning usually consists of meetings with students, staff, and my team.

For lunch, I often arrange to meet one of my colleagues or one of my personal friends who lives or works within walking distance of campus.

Every Monday and Tuesday, I don’t take a lunch break and leave the office at this time. This ensures I can get back to Murrayfield before 3pm, to collect my son from school.

Every Thursday and Friday, I usually work from 9:30 to 6pm or later. My Thursday and Friday afternoons usually consist of more meetings, and a few hours of dedicated writing time. When I dedicate myself to that, I usually turn off my email notifications so I don’t get distracted. I like to listen to instrumental music on my Spotify account when I write. Right now, my four go-to albums are Clair de Lune by composer Claude Debussy; Ludwig Goransson’s instrumental soundtrack for the film Venom (with actor Tom Hardy); The instrumental Soundtrack for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse by Daniel Pemberton; and DJ Obza’s Uthando Lwami album.

Dr Cairney, founder of Kalitasha, is appearing at the week-long Careers Hive until November 12 at the National Museum of Scotland. It is aimed at S1-S3 students to inspire them to pursue a STEM-based career


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