Meet the team: Sarah McLean

Assembly Rooms

Sarah McLean joins the Cultural Venues team as Business Development Manager (Maternity Cover). Get to know a little more about Sarah in our interview

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role here at Cultural Venues [Assembly Rooms]

Hello, I’m Sarah, cake lover, novice yogi and mum to three, which includes a crazy cockapoo.  I will be joining the Assembly Rooms team as Business Development Manager (maternity cover). My background is in international hospitality and events where I have enjoyed working with global organisations Hilton Worldwide, IHG and Sodexo.   I have recently completed an MSc International Festival and Events Management at Edinburgh Napier University in the world’s leading festival city, which I am proud to call home.    

What made you want to join the Edinburgh Cultural Venues team?

I worked with the Edinburgh Cultural Venues team, the Assembly Rooms, in a previous role representing the venue in a sales capacity as a preferred catering partner and I really enjoyed working with the team during that time.    I am constantly looking to develop myself professionally as an innovative and informed leader and thrive when working with hotels and venues rich in history and heritage.  This opportunity was a perfect fit for me, as I hope I am for the team, as I look to establish my future career in culture/ cultural events drawing on my many years of practical management experience and the recently learned theory behind festival and events management. 

What for you makes a great conference and/or event?

A great event can be many things to many people.  With my event management hat on I would say a great conference/ event is when you have collaborated and supported to deliver over and above on the event brief and contributed to the overall goal and vision of the organisers, resulting in happy attendees and happy organisers.  As a venue, innovation and designing memorable event experiences is hugely important in this process and this is where much of the opportunity lies for venues and the partners that we work with be it catering, entertainment, or production. The event experience needs to be captured at all points pre, during and post-event and Theme plays a significant part.

How important is sustainability to business?

Sustainability and sustainable tourism have to be a key focus in any business, and especially so in the conference and events sector, in consideration of the National Tourism strategy 2030 and the vision to see Scotland as the world leader in 21st-century tourism with key focus areas in Sustainability, Responsibility, Innovation and Technology.  We all need to play our part in delivering inclusive responsible tourism if we want to remain competitive and desirable in attracting business to the city and the venue.  There is a lot of great work going on already and it will be important to build on that moving forward.         

How will you be working with the wider Assembly Rooms team and how important is the team in the success of your role?

I look forward to learning from and working with the Assembly Rooms team, who know the venue inside and out, which will support me in driving the best opportunities whilst nurturing key stakeholder relationships for the venue.  I am also looking forward to networking and collaborating with the wider team where I would like to get involved in projects to support the ongoing success of the Edinburgh Cultural Venues portfolio and the Cultural division, where I can share my understanding of why conferences, festivals and events are so important economically, socially and culturally to Edinburgh.   I am passionate about making culture accessible to all and recognise the portfolio of venues offers up the opportunity for new collaborative working partnerships.

What are your thoughts on Edinburgh as a conference and events city?

For me, Edinburgh is a professional and thriving city of culture, festivals and events which includes the conference, meetings and exhibitions sector which is estimated to produce £20bn for the region.  We must celebrate and shout about Edinburgh’s success and all of the great collaborative work that takes place for our destination. It is not long ago that we were celebrating the 70th year of our festival city, and that is something I am very proud of as a citizen of Edinburgh and as an event professional, but I am also aware that we cannot afford to be complacent.  It is easy to see why Edinburgh is the most popular UK destination, outside London, for hosting UK & International Association meetings with four world-renowned universities, as well as a wealth of talented and passionate leaders across the Creative, Life Sciences, Technology and Finance sectors.   In an increasingly competitive global market, it has never been more important for our city to be seen and heard to protect this position and I believe it is through destination collaboration that venues, such as the Assembly Rooms, can truly benefit from access to international markets.