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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 04/03/2021

Here at VisitScotland Events, we won’t be letting a global pandemic dampen our spirits in the pursuit of celebrating a range of fantastic women within the events sector for International Women’s Day 2021 (IWD2021). IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere, and celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.  

With live events on hold for the moment due to Covid-19, it seems more important than ever to shine a spotlight on just a few of the women who plan, deliver, attract, promote (and live and breathe) the vast array of events which would usually be taking place in Scotland.  As well as finding out about their career history, we’ve asked them a couple of quick-fire IWD2021 themed questions to get a sense of who and what inspires and influences them. 

Why not join us in honouring the wonderful women across your own organisations/ households and businesses by sharing their story across your channels using #IWD2021

For more information visit International Women's Day 2021

To check out the range of events on offer across the globe

Naomi Shoba - Senior Arts, Music and Diversity Manager, Glasgow Life

Likes:  House plants, surprises, cooking (particularly with lemons) and holidays. 

I am a senior manager within Glasgow Life working as an agent for change. The role is focused on equity, antiracism, programming, creative practice, and organisational improvement. I graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and have worked in the UK cultural sector in Glasgow, London and Inverness. I have worked at Eden Court theatre in the smallest city in Britain and then in Ovalhouse theatre in the largest city in Britain and feel very fortunate to have such contrasting,  and rich life experiences. It has been a joy to come back to live and work in Glasgow and see such affirming changes in the city. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It is a point to mark and reflect on how life, society and our experiences are changing. To give thanks to all the black and brown women who have gone before me and feel excited for (and jealous of!) those who will come after me. It’s another opportunity to think and feel how our liberation is inextricably linked and what an extraordinary time it is to be alive.  

If you could attend a dinner party with 3 women - who would be at the table?  

My Botswanan grandmother, my Scottish grandmother and if I’m being really practical, an interpreter!  

Trudy Lindblade - Chief Executive Officer, 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships 

Likes: Family, good food and wine, cheese, attending major events, watching all forms of sport, and exploring regional town and cities.  

I’m the Chief Executive Officer for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships and have overall executive responsibility for the planning and delivery of this inaugural event with its vision to leave a lasting impact on not just cycling, major events and tourism in Scotland but broader policy outcomes such as sustainability, young people and women, communities and volunteers and active travel. 

I am from Melbourne, Australia, and have spent my 20 year plus career working on major sporting events around the world, including the 2010 UCI Road World Championships and the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, and the 2003 and 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup’s in South Africa and West Indies respectively.  

I have also been part of inspiring teams working on large scale major event bids and projects; from cricket to football (soccer) and large cultural festivals.  Most recently I led the team to create the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in honour of Cadel Evans’ 2011 Tour de France victory.  First held in 2015 it now features the opening one-day races of the men’s and women’s UCI World Tour as well as mass participation events and activities for the whole family. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It's an opportunity to pause, reflect and celebrate the achievements of all women around the world, raising the visibility of the many accomplishments achieved no matter how big or small.  This year’s theme ‘I Choose to Challenge’ really resonates with me particularly around inclusivity, an area that I am passionate about. 

The action or decision you're most proud of? 

I’m extremely proud of the decision I made to move to Scotland with my husband and young family in the middle of a pandemic to take up the role of CEO of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.  The challenge of leading and building a small high performing organisation with a strong Board of Directors to deliver a brand-new policy led event on the UCI’s calendar, setting the foundation for future editions is the career opportunity I was looking for in a sport and industry I am passionate about.   

Frances Sutton - Freelance PR Consultant 

Photo credit: Lloyd Smith

Likes: The buzz of a Festival or live event.  Being outside.  Highland Cattle.  Scotland.  Exploring new places, new ideas and meeting new people. 

My career history follows a wonderfully circuitous route from organising fundraising events for a wildlife conservation charity via PR, marketing and event management for a zoo, a geological visitor attraction, South American horse riding safaris and world class equestrian events to setting up my own business just over 16 years ago and moving into Festivals.  Having cut my Festival teeth on The Edinburgh International Book Festival (where I am still Press Manager and have just enjoyed my 15th year as part of the Book Festival team), The Edinburgh International Science Festival and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, I now also look after the PR for Edinburgh Diwali, Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year Festival, Burns&Beyond and Granite Noir amongst others.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to celebrate female role models in every walk of life, in every aspect of work and home life.   

What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you? 

Nobody dies wishing they spent more time in the office.  You’ll spend most of your adult life working – do something you love. 

Cara Hyles - Youth Development Worker / Youth Beatz

Likes: I love baking, to eat in nice restaurants, travelling, concerts and shopping!  

I started volunteering at Youth Beatz at the age of 15 and have volunteered or worked at the festival every year since (I’m now 25) carrying out different roles. Through working at the festival, I found a real passion for events, and more specifically a passion for the festival experience.   

At Youth Beatz, I’ve led on the Event Décor from hiring flags to putting up banners and working with young people to bring ideas to life.  It has given me a passion and drive to work in events and it's great to see what it brings to the local community. It has challenged me at times, pushing me out of my comfort zone but the best part is the sheer joy on people’s faces when they walk through the gates -  I’m proud I am part of making that happen.  

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It's an opportunity to celebrate the power of women from across the world and reflect on how far we have come in terms of challenging equality for women and recognising the struggles women have faced, and still face. It also provides a platform to educate the young people I work with on why it’s important to celebrate the achievements of women!  

The action or decision you're most proud of? 

For me it would be at the age of 17 taking the step towards my career in youth work and being successful in gaining a Modern Apprenticeship and continually building my career from that. Initially it was daunting because all of my friends were still young people, however it’s exciting to think I was the first child in my family to complete a university degree and I’m now in full time employment.  

Claire Dow - Principal Events Officer, Dundee City Council 

Photo credit: Ron Cathro Photography

Likes: Log fires, hammocks, books, joining in, and any excuse to gather friends and dance. 

I’m Principal Events Officer for Dundee City Council, leading a team to develop the scale and scope of events in the city. We facilitate the use of public spaces, and deliver large Council events including Fireworks and the Christmas programme.  

My background is theatre and dance where I am grateful to have worked with many brilliant women leaders, each influencing and encouraging me in different ways. I undertook the Clore Fellowship in 2014/15; and I'm an active Board member for Creative Dundee. 

My favourite projects combine people, collective encounters and fun, so my personal career highlight was bringing Olivier Grossetete to Dundee to build the People’s Tower: Dundee’s Royal Arch, a crazy enormous cardboard construction.  

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It's an opportunity to celebrate women, share stories and hold up examples of what is possible so we can open girl’s eyes to all the amazing people, jobs, and fun times that are out there. I like to point out women’s achievements to my daughter, but at the same time I want to normalise them, like its no big deal and she can do whatever she sets her mind to! 

IWD gives us a chance to speak out, to discuss and push back on some of the crazy situations in the world which could so easily be addressed with a little awareness.  

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be? 

I would tell her to go out and take more risks, to speak her mind, and to ask more questions. I would want her to embrace that you have nothing to lose by reaching out to people and being open about not knowing things! I’d tell her that fun times are out there when you just go for it.  

Caroline Sutherland - Director, Caledonian Concepts

Likes: Being in the great outdoors, swimming, travelling & gardening.

I have over 25 years’ experience in event management, marketing and communications within the sports and tourism industry. My career started at a PR agency in London which specialised in travel and tourism followed by a stint freelancing in Edinburgh. In 2004, my husband Malcolm and I set up Caledonian Concepts in the Highlands where we organise mass participation sporting events. Our current event portfolio includes the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running, Etape Loch Ness and Inverness Half Marathon.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To me IWD is about equality and particularly equality in sport. As an organiser of sporting events and a mum to two daughters, I am a strong advocate for the importance of encouraging girls and women to be involved with sport and physical activity. Statistics show there is a significant drop off in girls’ participation in physical activity from the age of 11. I believe that positive female role models in sport and actively encouraging more girls to continue with sport into their teens and adulthood are key to reverse this trend.

The action or decision that you're most proud of?

When I look back at the early days of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, I feel very proud to see that female participation in the marathon has increased significantly over the last two decades to 43%; a figure which is reflected across our other sporting events too.

Charlotte Mountford - Co-Director, Lyth Arts Centre and Freelance Producer & Programmer 

Photo credit: SDM Photography 

Likes: Intersectional feminism, pizza and the sea. 

I am a cultural producer and programmer based in Caithness.  I am also Co-Director of Lyth Arts Centre, the UK's most northerly mainland arts centre. I’m a proud Mancunian who moved to the Highlands after working across the North West of England and Leicester. 

I initially started out working in theatre at places like The Lowry where I started to produce my own theatre festivals. From there I moved into more cross-arts programming working at arts centres and festivals. Some of my biggest and most enjoyable projects have been Journeys Festival International, a refugee and asylum seeker arts festival that took place across three cities in England and across Europe, and Live! / Beò! Festival – a Year of Young People festival with Highland Youth Arts Hub that took place across six of National Trust for Scotland’s iconic Highland sites!  

At Lyth Arts Centre, I lead on the on the artistic programme including live performance alongside an innovative contemporary visual art programme. I also lead on projects including Lyth Family Festival and our Year of Coasts and Waters event Northern Lights Festival, rescheduled for September 2021. I love my role here, as it allows me to practice radical localism and challenge conceptions about what it means to be 'rural'.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It has meant different things to me at different times in my life but it always provides a point of reflection; a time to come together to celebrate women’s achievements and consider the challenges ahead.  

If you could attend a dinner party with 3 women - who would be at the table?  

Right now, I’d have to choose my mum because I haven’t seen her in nearly a year! I’d love to meet Tomiwa Folorunso to chat film and events in Scotland. And the writer Jenni Fagan, as I’ve just finished her latest book ‘Luckenbooth’ and would love to pick her brains about it. 

Gayle Findlay - Chair of Hebridean Celtic Festival Trust 

Likes: Live music, bodyboarding, beach and coastal walks, reading and films. 

As a young adult I volunteered in order to attend festivals and then gradually got more involved in the programming.  I then worked with a festival recycling company where I spent my summers travelling the country working at small festivals through to the biggest of them all - Glastonbury! 

When I moved to the Isle of Lewis in 2008 I knew I wanted to be involved with HebCelt Festival as a way to support a vital local event but also to meet people. I began as a volunteer ambassador, then became a team leader.  In 2015, I was asked to join the Board of Trustees, and when the longstanding Chair stepped down in 2018 I was asked to take over which was a real honour. 

Outside of volunteering for the festival I am a Policy Manager for COSLA where I lead on asylum, refugee integration and resettlement policy that impacts local authorities in Scotland.  

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It’s essential we recognise the contribution of women to society, even today when we supposedly have secured equality.  IWD helps us remember what has come before and the sacrifice women made to secure our rights and equality.  It’s a chance to reflect on how far we have come in establishing women’s rights in the UK, but also recognising there is still work to be done.  It also empowers us to celebrate the achievements of women we work with.  

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you? 

It’s vital!  I’m conscious that I’ve had access to opportunities that others may not, so it’s my responsibility to support other women to access opportunities by fighting inequality or discrimination, even subtly against women.  

For HebCelt this is about ensuring there is a platform for female musicians as well as a supportive environment. We have for many years worked to ensure that our Festival reflects women in the music industry and I am proud of how we, year on year, showcase new talent as well as the more well-known musicians. 

Jess Maloumi - Client Services Manager for Cameron  

Likes: Cooking dinner for friends, road tripping around our beautiful country, having a ‘nosey’ around local markets, and enjoying a gin or two at the many wonderful festivals Scotland has to offer. 

In my current role, I am Client Services Manager at Cameron – Scotland’s oldest event company, which is now in its 74th year. I love working with clients to help achieve their event vision creatively by transforming blank venue spaces into something special using the latest technology and furniture.  I’m hugely passionate about the user journey and bridging the communication gap between Audio Visual production teams and the end client by making the sales process more visual - with less "tech jargon”.  

Having graduated from Napier University in 2008 with BA Festival and Event Management which supplemented a previously attained Music Business qualification from Edinburgh College, I worked in successful roles as Conference and Event Officer at COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) and Technical Crew and Logistics Manager for Finix Productions in Edinburgh, before leaving my home city to work for The Arches events team in Glasgow. Prior to my current role I was Venue and Event Manager for Drygate Brewery. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

IWD is about celebrating women. It shines a spotlight on the achievements of women and the positive changes that are creating a more equal society, whilst providing a global discussion platform for many areas still requiring further action. 

Who or what is your biggest influence?  

I’ve had many influences in my life and throughout my career in events, and I have been very lucky to have been managed by some great people who I saw as mentors, who always treated me as equal. 

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