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Young Women in Tourism: Some WIT Conference Takeaways

WIT Conference delegate

Read the thoughts from some of our younger Women in Tourism conference delegates who attended our inaugural conference in November 2018. Organised by Women in Tourism YOYP Board Member Julia MacGregor, the #WITConf 2018 was a day intended to inspire and engage. What did some of our young people think? 

Charlotte Reid of The Edinburgh Address, Meredith Hawley, a tourism undergraduate student from the University of Wisconsin Stout, USA (studying in Scotland in 2018) and Katie Jowett, a tourism Masters student at the University of Aalborg, Copenhagen, took the time to share their thoughts and insights from the Women in Tourism conference – and we’re very grateful for them!

Read Katie’s guest blog here and read on for insights from Meredith and Charlotte.

Meredith Hawley: I am 19 years old and still new to the hospitality industry. I took away a lot of great information from this event. The one thing that really stood out was the CEO panel talk. I took a lot away from this session. I have gained a lot of advice as I continue to develop my career path in the hospitality industry. I also enjoyed learning about having or being a mentor. One thing I particularly enjoyed was having time to role-play mentoring roles with a partner, presenting a problem and getting advice. Then we got to switch roles. This helped me learn more for the future, if I want to seek out a mentor myself, or just consider options.

I found the social media session less helpful – I am not working for a company yet, which made it more challenging for me to connect what I was learning about in the session. I also felt as if I knew most of the information that was being talked about. I believe this session would have been more helpful for those who are working in a company who actively need assistance with social media. I did find it helpful to learn about the companies the two speakers worked for and managed; and how they used social media to promote products and business.

Overall, the Women in Tourism YOYP conference was a great event to attend. I have networked with different people, whom I will keep in contact with as I continue my career. As I am looking to intern, I now have reliable connections, willing to help me out.

Charlotte Reid: Strong and inspiring women: it’s not often you are able to sit in a room filled with people who can all be described as this, however some of the team from The Edinburgh Address attended this event created to cater to young people in the tourism industry on the 19 November in Glasgow. A panel of industry leaders discussed young people and women in the industry and we came away with some interesting thoughts and statistics around the upcoming years. One of these is that more than 55% of women in the tourism industry work in it for the love of it. Another was an anecdote about a busy and important managing director who “never felt like they could take a break even on the beach on holiday” and a comment back was “Don’t you think that your staff maybe want a holiday from you too?”

The main topic during the panel discussion was how to make time for yourself as well as chase your career. This can so positively affect your work and concentration, feeling like you’re also having fun!

Our name tags had small gem stones which determined our 2 chosen breakout sessions. I was lucky enough to take part in the Leadership session led by Dale MacPhee, General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh and Valerie Lederer, Marketing Executive, from Criton. This was one of the most inspiring workshops I have ever been a part of. Dale spoke about how to be a “leader” and not a “manager” and how to actually action this in the workplace with peers. Valerie spoke about Millennials and how we approach work and life goals, explaining that we are not a generation to fear but one which in four or more years’ time, will control about 75% of the workforce: working with this generation and how to think in terms of the future.

These women offered us a small list of books to read as well as getting us to use our smartphones to participate in an interactive voting game on the Smart Board. We felt involved, listened to and inspired.

Next, I took part in the Mentoring workshop where Cathy Craig of Entrepreneurial Scotland and Beth Thoms of Festivals Edinburgh explored choosing the right mentor for you and your career. They talked about something which I had personally never thought about, reverse mentoring. This is when the person who is mentoring the other gains some knowledge and support from the other; it is a shared exchange of knowledge. This means that when you seek the ideal mentor, perhaps they are gaining a great deal, sometimes more than expected from the experience. In mentoring, honesty is the best policy and when looking for a mentor, you need to be honest about what you expect and need from the relationship. We also had the chance to turn to someone new in the room and mentor them or in return, they mentor us. It was at points a challenging experience, as sometimes you are allowed to admit you do not have all the answers, but listening and letting the person make up their own mind is also helpful.

To end the conference, WIT YOYP Board Member Julia MacGregor and WIT Chair Susan Russell took the stage to thank us all for joining them, and told us that as a result of the conference, six new members had already joined WIT. We were very excited to hear this and it made me proud that such a wonderful organisation had reached out to inspire us, sharing ideas and talent.

Thank you to Charlotte, Meredith and Katie for their contributions to the WIT blog.