The David Riddell Memorial Scholarship was created by the SITE Foundation in memory of SITE Past President David Riddell and provides an opportunity for worthy individuals to participate in SITE educational programs. As a leader, David envisioned what the organization could look like in the future, and worked diligently to effect change and mold SITE into the leading global authority in our industry. The scholarship funds Global Conference attendance costs up to $2500 for one recipient chosen based on financial need, nomination from a SITE chapter leader, and an interest in the future potential growth of SITE. Applicants submit a written essay and the winner is selected by the SITE Foundation Board of Trustees .
Stephanie Dhima, Sales Manager-Programme Development, Event Partners, Dublin, Ireland has been selected as this year’s scholarship winner. Learn more about Stephanie in this excerpt from her award-winning essay.
Having attended the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and completed the highly coveted Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management meant quite literally the world to me – pun intended. I was free to travel the world, having the luxury of having acquired a title that will allow me to take on a job wherever my heart would take me.
It was not until I applied and immediately accepted a job at one Ireland’s leading DMC’s, Event Partners Ireland, that I realized the most important principle: build a groundwork for your art, and refine it in line with progression and the luxury of variety. Most importantly, though, choice no longer meant destinations. Choice meant gathering your innermost skills and strengths, and applying them to an expertise that you and the company will most benefit from.
Coming from a background that could only have shaped me into the epitome of the informally labelled ‘Third Culture Kid’, traveling to transverse my boarders and expand my horizons, has been bred into my blood since the very start. Born to a Portuguese- Indian mother and a Swiss-Italian-Greek father as well as travelling with their jobs has no doubt put each piece together towards the service-focused personality I hold today.
My generation is lucky to be experiencing the fundamental shift from tangible products to memory-creating experiences which has recently returned, and people and companies had a greater willingness to spend their budget on what the group could experience rather than products their money could buy. To me, such a shift has been considerably more apparent than perhaps in many destinations. This is mainly due to the fact that the most overwhelming and memorable of experiences would be in the form of meeting distinct characters, interacting with the most authentic of countrymen and women, and creating bonds with the citizens of this little island. This significant shift towards experiences rather than materialistic products can very much be felt amongst every player of the industry.
For myself personally, this had a haunting significance on the product that we offer and in the way it has been offered. More specifically taking into account the cultural aspects that come into play from my background, this has assisted my professional development and allowed me to critically analyse how best to curate an experience bespoke to each of my clients unique needs... not to mention their vision!
This is all to say that the past three years of my life have been by far the steepest learning curve. From the point of starting at Event Partners Ireland as a Sales Executive in Programme Development with a total of 7 employees, to being a substantial element in the growth over the last three years, and finally rising to Sales Manager in the department within a team of 19 has been tremendous. Moreover, this experience was enhanced and developed by the fortunate and active membership of our company with SITE, and my personal membership under the Developing Professional category. Bursting into the industry at a young age, willing to make connections and using them to drive business together was my primary focus whose objectives aligned perfectly with what SITE stands for. Having worked in the hospitality industry in Switzerland, Morocco, Mozambique and the UK, a tight SITE network has never been more apparent than at my current standpoint in Ireland. This cooperative, engaging, encouraging and warm Chapter is an inspiration to others and I would make it my very mission to apply the ‘human’ elements of the Irish hospitality and authenticity to others in the world. The value of SITE can be insurmountable if people across the board work together the way they have done in such a small region. I have made connections both for myself and amongst industry peers by attending numerous SITE educational events, keeping updated on the members’ movements and news, as well as making strategic business connections.
For decades now, incentive travel has proven its worth and effectiveness in the business world. People respond to rewards, and motivation is driven when employees are recognized for their performance. Always having been a firm believer in enriching people’s immersive experiences and allowing for a chance to subject them to the great performance they have driven for their company, it has by far been one of the most electrifying and satisfying tasks.
This scholarship and with it the attendance of the magnificent SITE Global conference would provide me with an opportunity to internationalise my site activity by studying practices of some of the best members of SITE, and renowned Chapters. This once- in-a-lifetime opportunity would be an investment for my long-term plans with SITE in order to enhance my skill set further and allow me to grow into the best member I could possibly be.
"I am hugely proud of Stephanie and her many achievements since joining Event Partners Ireland in 2013. Within three years, she has truly made her mark within the company and as a result has been promoted three times. A testament to her pure dedication and tremendous ability. I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for the David Riddell Scholarship.” – Nicola McGrane, Managing Director, Events Partners, Ireland
“Stephanie is an incredibly creative individual who conceptualises amazing incentive programmes that enable our clients to experience the true heart of Ireland. Added to that, with grace, knowledge and attentiveness, she takes our clients on site inspections that are less about showcasing product after product and more about enabling our clients to actually 'sample the experience'. Despite her young years, I have put her before the toughest and most experienced incentive planners and, every time, she has gained their respect with her knowledge, dedication and overall commitment to ensuring the success of their program in Ireland. I strong believe Stephanie is the embodiment of everything that SITE champions are and I believe she will have a very bright future in the international incentive industry.” – Aideen Morrin, SITE Ireland Board Member & Sales and Marketing Director, Event Partners, Ireland