Paula Whitelaw: National Trust Scotland
When did you decide that you wanted to work within the Creative and Cultural Industries and what influenced that decision?
At university – I didn’t really know it was an option before that point as it wasn’t something my family engaged with and no guidance was given at my school about more creative or heritage based opportunities.
What did your career path look like?
I started doing voluntary work for a range of organisations after I left university to gain some experience in the real world – including RSPB and NTS - in research and policy-based activities. I then worked in admin roles and then short contracts, again research roles or working on long term planning activities for conservation organisations. My voluntary work helped me develop the contacts and real-life skills required to secure these roles. From there I progressed into longer term planning roles before ending up at the Trust and have been here (with a 3-year gap being a stay at home mum) for 20 years – over that time my role has evolved and developed which means I am continually learning new skills.
Describe a typical day in your working life...
I don’t have a typical day – I deal with properties across the whole of Scotland – ranging from St Kilda out in the Atlantic to a castle in Aberdeenshire and everything in between.
What qualifications and experience are necessary for your role?
A degree in a relevant subject is helpful but more importantly you need good skills in taking on board, questioning and condensing large amounts of often conflicting information (often out with your own knowledge area) and being able to deal with people.
Find a role that fits your skills set and makes you happy. We all have different strengths and that’s OK. Then be confident and ask questions when something doesn’t make sense. The person who makes the biggest impact isn’t the one talking for talking sake but the one challenging assumption and who is willing to ask ‘why’.
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