Catching up with Katherine Nelles, a Fast Forward 15 mentee

Katherine Nelles, VisitScotland’s business events market manager for UK and Ireland, has been awarded a place on the all-female Fast Forward 15 mentoring programme for 2019/2020. 

We caught up with her to find out what winning a place on the programme means to her – and what she’s most looking forward to about the next year.

“I believe that it is important to continue learning throughout your career, and the Fast Forward 15 programme is an amazing opportunity to do that,” Nelles told M&IT.

“Having mentoring sessions that you can bounce ideas off of, and get honest open feedback is such a valuable tool.”

Nelles began her career at the five-star Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto where she started out as an in-room dining coordinator before progressing into a role within the sales team. In 2014, Nelles was transferred to Fairmont St Andrews where she held several sales positions including head of event sales and planning before joining the team at VisitScotland as market manager for the UK and Ireland.

Nelles’ mentor is industry veteran, Mark Riches, co-founder of FIRST.

“I feel quite lucky to have Mark as my mentor, having his feedback and guidance is incomparable. I’m looking forward to learning from him to having a sounding board and someone who is really going to push me,” Nelles added.

Part of the Fast Forward 15 programme is about setting goals and Nelles said her goals are about pushing her comfort levels both professionally and personally.

“I believe that being part of a strong network of past mentees and mentors, along with the 2019 intake of mentees and mentors is a terrific community to be a part of. I believe that the mentoring and learning sessions during the programme will give me tools that I’ll be using for the remainder of my career,” said Nelles.

Originally from Canada, Nelles now lives in Scotland and is passionate about her new home and how she can become someone who can connect the right programmes and people to Scottish suppliers as part of her role at VisitScotland.

“I love the puzzle of putting a really great event together. Being a part of a team that can deliver something amazing for people to experience, or a session that fosters innovation and new concepts, that really speaks to me.

“I love working for VisitScotland and being a part of the national body is something that I feel strongly about. I want to be known as a champion of Scotland’s innovation, progression and world-class facilities.”

While gaining a place on the prestigious mentoring programme is hugely exciting, Nelles revealed to M&IT that she doesn’t anticipate the programme will be without its challenges.

“At the graduation of the 2018 intake, all of the mentees that graduated have achieved so much, I hope to be able to continue that trend.”