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Article published 10/11/2022

Scottish Careers Week 2022 is back for its second year this week (7 to 11 November) to help people explore, understand and manage their career choices, and the services and resources available to support them. 

Jobs within the event sector vary hugely from self-employed freelancers to event planners, sound engineers to event marketing professionals. Despite the challenges of the past couple of years, the industry is fast moving and a key driver for destinations across the world.  

To celebrate #ScotCareersWeek, we are shining the spotlight on just a few of our event sector colleagues who plan, deliver, attract, support, promote (and everything else!) events across Scotland. 

Read VisitScotland's story on Scottish Careers Week, posted on earlier this week.


Donald Smith

Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Man talking to an audience

Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

In the past, I have combined my above position with being Director of the Storytelling Centre and more recently of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) but I am focusing wholly now on the festival and grassroots storytelling across Scotland. 

I ended up here because I was determined from the start of my professional life in 1980 to work in Scottish culture, and to see that culture play a much bigger and more recognised part in Scottish arts and society.

My first job was as Stage Manager at the then Netherbow Arts Centre, Edinburgh. They were very short staffed and perpetually broke, so I had to do every job going from cleaner to playwright, which was a fantastic education. The hours were crazy. The eighties proved to be a tough decade, but we showed that arts and culture really mattered for Scotland locally, nationally and internationally. In some ways we have never looked back.

What’s been your career highlight?

My career highlight (so far!) was to found the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh's Royal Mile, and deliver the capital project for the new building. That also involved the conservation and renewal of John Knox House. Of course, it was a collective effort, and from the off people came in and made the place their own. It's vital to have that "open-to-all" cultural space in the heart of the capital city, and it has once again proved its worth during Scotland's Year of Stories 2022.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

My advice to younger selves: do what you really believe in - go for it despite the apparent obstacles because no-one knows how the future will actually work out. I have had plenty of failures as well as successes, yet looking back over the decades, I am satisfied that I always gave it my best shot.  

Katy Mathieson

Project Director for Performance54, a global golf events, marketing and consultancy agency

Headshot of a woman

Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

My dream was to work within the sports broadcasting industry, so after having completed a post graduate diploma in journalism at Strathclyde University in 2005, which included many hours of work experience at local radio stations and newspapers, I landed my first job in television working for STV on "Scotsport SPL".

I then applied for a job as an Editorial Assistant at Sky Sports Golf and within a few weeks I was packing my bags to start a new job and life in London. I spent over 10 years with Sky Sports Golf, travelling and working all over the world with some of the most talented and fun people, many of whom I still call close friends today.

The time did come, however, when "home" was calling with an opportunity to move back to Edinburgh to join the golf team at EventScotland. Scotland had won the bid to become the host nation of the 2019 Solheim Cup, an event I had covered in various guises at my time with Sky, so it was the perfect chance to play a small part in staging one of the most memorable editions in the tournament’s history. I worked at EventScotland for 3 years, learning so much more about other areas within the industry I had not been exposed to before.

What’s been your career highlight?

I have been lucky to have many career highlights. However, the two that spring to mind, are being part of Team Scotland, delivering the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles where nearly 100,000 people came to support women’s golf. 

The other is working on-site at the 2012 Ryder Cup for Sky Sports, which is otherwise known as the "Miracle at Medinah".

What career advice would you give your younger self?

Work hard, go the extra mile, be willing and enthusiastic, soak up as much as you can from everyone and everything around you & believe in yourself and your abilities!

Mark Currie

Director of Operations for the Royal Highland Show and the Royal Highland Centre (RHC)

Headshot of a man in black and white

Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

I am responsible for all of the site and event activity at the 280 acre Ingliston Estate as well as our flagship event the Royal Highland Show. Prior to working with the RHC, I worked with DF Concerts on their festival and stadium event programmes with a focus on T in the Park. 

What’s been your career highlight?

I am fortunate to have a number of career highlights including being part of the last T in the Park at Balado, but this year’s Summer events programme at RHC was pretty unbelievable with the return of the Royal Highland Show and watching the incredible Biffy Clyro play on the Saturday night in our Big Top to 8,000 screaming fans was really special.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

I would say to surround yourself with talented and trustworthy people - you will achieve so much more with a great team around you.

Pauline Allan

Events Manager for Renfrewshire Council

Headshot of a woman

Pauline is responsible for the design and delivery of a portfolio of outdoor local and major events and internal corporate events.

Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

I have worked with Renfrewshire Council since leaving school at 18, joined as a skillseeker in an admin role, secured a permanent position within my first 3 months of joining the programme and worked on arranging conferences and public meetings. I stayed in a similar role for ten years whilst working on an HNC and then a Degree in the evenings.

An internal vacancy came up for an events assistant role. I was lucky enough to secure the post in September 2011, I have worked through the team into a senior role and for the last 7 years have been privileged to be the Events Manager.

What’s been your career highlight?

I am very fortunate in the role I have been part of some incredibly memorable events and projects. The Olympic torch relay in 2012 and its tour around Renfrewshire was a special project to be involved in. 

Paisley Halloween Festival is definitely the ultimate highlight, having worked on the event since its inception where we had around 5k people attending in 2014, to our most recent event with over 40,000 attendees. The skills, engagement and participation opportunities the festival brings to our local creative and cultural communities is almost limitless. It is a special event which we constantly evolve and residents, visitors and the cultural community have really taken it to their hearts.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

I would definitely say believe in yourself more, take opportunities when they come your way even if they seem scary at the time. Have confidence in your ability and take some time to pause and enjoy the projects you deliver.

Penny Lambert

Event Manager, EventScotland

Headshot of a woman

Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

Having been a bit uncertain as to my career line out of school, I returned to university at 25 to study Event Management and achieved a 1st class honours from Napier University. I was then extremely lucky to start an internship working in Istanbul on the 2020 Olympic Bid which was my first step into mega sporting events.  I came home to work on the Commonwealth Games and then had a couple of amazing years working abroad on other major events such as The European Games in Baku and cycling events in Australia. I loved travelling but my heart was always at home and my desire since university was to one day work for EventScotland. After a few years working in Scotland, building connections and "settling down" I was lucky enough to apply for and be offered a job with EventScotland and here I am, 2 years later extremely grateful for the opportunity and thoroughly enjoying it!

What’s been your career highlight?

Working in Istanbul on the 2020 Olympic Bid - I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction and first step into the industry. I will be forever grateful to my dissertation supervisor for her support to get me there.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t stress about having to go to university straight away, get some life experience, travel, you’ll figure out what you want to do. Once you do, immerse yourself in it - take every opportunity you can grasp and run with it!