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Recap: Inspiring Women in Business Lunch with Tracey McNellan

Posted: 24th May 2017

On a warm day in May, a group of around thirty (mostly) women joined us at the G&V Royal Mile Hotel for our monthly Inspiring Women in Business Lunch. Our guest speaker was Tracey McNellan, a woman boasting an illustrious career in the fast-paced media industry.

From early on in the event, delegates relaxed in to the comfortable surrounds of the G&V, drink in hand, where they were given the opportunity to network prior to being whisked in to the dining room to hear from our guest speaker.

In something of a break from the norm, this Inspiring Women in Business event was held Q&A style with one of Tracey’s colleagues – Paul Harper of Heart Scotland’s drive time show – quizzing Tracey on a range of topics, from her early career to challenges she’s faced to radio’s place in today’s world. Paul informed the crowd that the last Q&A he hosted was with the lawyers of Steven Avery, the man made famous by the documentary Making a Murderer. This Q&A, he assured, would be much more light-hearted.

They covered Tracey’s career first, noting her background in computing and early love of music, which undoubtedly influenced the direction her life would later take. We learned of Tracey’s determined nature from an early age, where when she told her mother about her intentions to take on a sales role and being told she didn’t have enough experience in sales, she replied with a straightforward; “I’ll learn”. They spoke of her rapid career progression, winning the roles of Sales Manager at only 25 and Sales Director at 29, and her philosophy that – to counter those who believed she was too young for such a senior role – “if you’re capable enough, you’re old enough”.

Radio and the wider media industry are seen as ever-exciting and fun places to work, yet like most businesses they don’t come without their challenges. We heard next of some of the obstacles Tracey has faced in her many roles (and in her personal life, too). She spoke of her earlier marriage, the changes she has seen her workplaces undertake as the media industry has evolved, and her conflict of choosing between her career and her personal life – notably, a career move that would see her move to Nottingham for the role of Managing Director at Capital FM East Midlands, at the cost of leaving behind a life she loved in Scotland.

Tracey couldn’t stay South forever though, and eventually moved back to Scotland for the role of Managing Director at Global Scotland (Heart & Smooth), where even today she and her team face challenges that many radio stations face in a world of constant and rapid technological and societal change. She believes that radio must continue to “evolve and change rapidly”, and that in this time of ‘fake news’ radio must hold on to it’s status as an instant, yet trusted source of information.

We heard a little of Tracey’s life outside of work, too. While she admits that it can be difficult to ‘switch off’, she enjoys coaching other businesses and, while in Nottingham, took up a side project of becoming a yoga and pilates teacher.

Tracey then talked us through a typical day – well, as typical as one could be, given that “no two days are the same, because it’s radio [and] things happen, and we need to react”. That concluded the Q&A, and after applause, lunch arrived. The staff at G&V promptly delivered our plates, a delicious pork belly, followed by a dessert of honeycomb and ice cream, and tea and coffee.

During dessert, there was the opportunity for delegates to ask any burning questions – after which Tracey and Paul had to take their leave. Paul was due to host the drive time show in only a couple hours time and while we were enjoying their company, as Liz McAreavey said, “we’d rather not be responsible for silence on the air this afternoon”.

Our next Inspiring Women in Business Lunch will be held on June 27th at the Waldorf Astoria, where we will hear from Catherine Topley, Director of Corporate Services at Scottish Prison Service. Click here to book your place.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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