Continuing our Sector Spotlight on Tourism, today we hear from Nikki Wylie, who is a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative for The Orkney Distillery and Visitor Centre. Her career journey has included university, working in a bank and working in wine, whiskey and gin production and sales.
Can you describe a typical day in your roles as a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative?
“I have wonderfully varied days! Often, I’ll do some production in the morning, which means being part of making and bottling the actual gin. I’ll then guide a tour in the afternoon before serving drinks at the café-bar for the rest of the day.”
How did you end up in your current role as a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative?
“When I was at school, I felt the pressure to go to university, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I first went to an informatics course and then into teacher training.
“I wasn’t happy on my courses and got more joy from my holidays at home spent working in Orkney Wine. I would help with bottling and labelling, run tastings for the public and chat away with visitors from all over the globe.
“When I decided to leave university, I had some experience and an interest that led me to my first full time job at The Whisky Trail on the Edinburgh Royal Mile. I learned so much in those months as a whisky specialist and had to get used to long, hard days around festival season. It was great fun, but I missed home.
“When I moved back, I first worked in the bank. I planned for this to be my new career path, but in practise, it was not a good fit. I was delighted when I discovered Orkney Distilling were hiring. Much more up my street as I had been selling Kirkjuvagr all the time in the whisky shop already!”
What is the best thing about being a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative?
“I always find myself surprised by how lovely people are. I sometimes get strange questions on a tour but invariably by the end, we will all be laughing and chatting away. People come to us in a good mood, looking for a fun time and someone to talk to about interesting things.”
What is the worst thing about being a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative?
“Although I love the variety, I guess the worst thing about my job is when I have to put on too many different hats in rapid succession. It can be easy to get flustered if you are serving behind the bar one moment and working on the distillation of the gin the next. Nothing that a breath of fresh air and a good to-do list can’t solve though.”
What skills do you need to be a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative?
“Working as a team is an obvious and important one. At the distillery we need to work as one unit across the different aspects of the business. It’s very clichéd but communication really is the key! Everyone must be able to help when and where they are needed so we do the best job we can.”
What qualifications do you have?
“I have a Higher Diploma in Education and Standard Grades, a few Highers and an Advanced Higher in Maths from school.”
Why would you recommend working as a Tour Guide and Bar and Production Operative?
“Its good varied experience, the customers are great and you can learn a lot about the tourist and the food and drink industry.”
Visit The Orkney Distillery and Visitor Centre on:
Website - https://www.orkneydistilling.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Orkneygin/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/orkneygin/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Kirkjuvagr_Gin