Meet Zahra McDonald
SITE has enabled me to manage teams and drive initiatives
Zahra McDonald works in Regional Sales for The Fife Arms, which is a new hotel located in Braemar, The Scottish Highlands. She has been working within the incentive travel market for nearly 8 years, having worked at The Fairmont St Andrews, Cameron House on Loch Lomond and also The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel. Zahra actually comes into the industry from a degree in History and Politics. However, at University she says she learnt many skills, most importantly, how to research and present well. This enabled her to develop more confidence in herself and prepared her for presenting in front of employers and also prospective clients.
Her best incentive memory comes from working with Spectra to bring the largest ever incentive to Scotland in August 2018. She says August in Edinburgh is the absolute peak of the season, so to say this was an accomplishment, is an understatement! She believes travel is an incredible reward for recognition of hard work, because it can lead to lifechanging experiences. This is especially as many overseas incentives are to destinations that an individual may have never considered or been able to travel to before.
Zahra joined SITE Scotland in May 2017 - the time of the SITE Scotland revival under the Presidency of Emily Shields. She had worked closely with Emily on many incentive programmes before and so Emily immediately asked her to join the board in support. Zahra says that this was a huge decision, as she was travelling all the time. However, she knew it was a great opportunity for her career progression and profile within the incentive travel market. She hasn’t looked back!
She says joining the SITE board has given her many opportunities to lead. She had never managed a team before or had an opportunity to be creative or push her own initiatives forward. Joining SITE has allowed her to explore new skills and work alongside others within the industry that she would never have had the chance to before.
Zahra urges those on the fence about whether to join just to do it, saying it will open up your network and that you will meet other likeminded professionals along the way. She believes that making the most of your SITE membership is simple. Your local SITE chapter will organise events, networking and education sessions throughout the year and it’s up to you to turn up and make the most of your membership. She recommends members be present and engaged – that you will get out what you put in.