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Impacts of The Bridge: Katie Seabolt, SKEMA Business School Student

In our Impacts of The Bridge blog series, we look at how our Bridge program has impacted different people from around tourism academia and industry. In today’s blog, we catch up with student Katie Seabolt to hear about how writing the case, Nazy’s Battle to Change the Pankisi Valley Through Tourism, impacted her degree.

Before we start, what is The Bridge? By using our resources as a global non-profit, we’ve created a live bank of industry contacts with fantastic stories ready to share. Then, we’re connecting these individuals with organizations around the world who want to publish more research and broaden their network. We call this collaboration: The Bridge.

Hello Katie! Please could you tell us a little about yourself, what you’re currently working on and your career goals?

My name is Katie Seabolt and I am a Master’s Student at SKEMA Business School. I’m currently finishing up the last year of my course and am working on a variety of different projects! Many of these projects include CABI – at the moment, I’m working with David Ward-Perkins and some of my colleagues at SKEMA on a CABI Concise Book about women in tourism (with topics including female entrepreneurship, women’s role in building and supporting their communities, as well as women being guardians of their respective cultures). We have also been collecting additional data on some of the inspiring stories written by SKEMA students that were published by CABI as part of The Bridge last year. Outside of my work with CABI, I am completing an internship in event management in the South of France, and am working on my thesis which focuses on immersive experiences in event design.

Looking towards the future, my long-term career goal is to become an event director at either a large event management firm, or at a major event venue in France. I have always been drawn to a potential career tourism and event management because I saw how people-oriented this industry is. In my personal life, I love connecting with people, learning about their culture, background, and home, so it was only natural to connect this love to my professional life. Tourism and event management are both all about connection and creativity, and I have found it so rewarding to pursue a career in this sector.

As part of The Bridge, you recently published “Nazy’s Battle to Change the Pankisi Valley Through Tourism”. What was your process behind producing that case study?

This was such a rewarding story to tell! For this case study, I worked with a team of 4, including 2 other students and our professor David Ward-Perkins, to do background research, interview Nazy Dakishvili (the subject of the case study) and write the final piece.

Putting together a successful case study required a lot of skills from our team, but I found the most important was the ability to ask the right questions. Hearing Nazy tell her story of perseverance was one of the most enjoyable parts of the process; it was motivating, challenging, and interesting all wrapped into one. I wanted to make sure Nazy’s story was told in the most accurate way, and at first this responsibility was quite intimidating, but in the end, I think we accomplished our goal. Good background research really helped with this – coming to our interviews with Nazy as informed as possible helped us ask the right questions, which allowed us to create a great case and detailed supporting notes (known as Exploring the Case notes).

What have you learned from producing your case study?

I learned a lot of valuable lessons and skills through writing this case study. Probably, most importantly, this case study allowed me to explore a part of the world and a culture that I had very little prior knowledge of. This was one of the reasons this case study was so intimidating to write at first! But, as my team researched and spoke with Nazy during interviews, I began to feel more at ease. I also realized that a lot of people who will read this case study may not be familiar with the Pankisi Valley either, so

It’s exciting to know that our case study will inform students and professors in the tourism industry in the same way it informed me.

It’s exciting to know that our case study will inform students and professors in the tourism industry in the same way it informed me.

On a more professional level, writing this case allowed me to develop a lot of skills that I will use in my future career, like research and professional writing, teamwork, and listening. I also developed the ability to write about subjects in an unbiased way, which will help in both my personal and professional life moving forward. This case, for example, is about changing the perception of a region that was previously known for its links to radicalism and terrorism, so it was very important to come to our interviews and research without judgement or assumptions. After speaking with Nazy, and seeing how wonderful this region is, I was ready to pack my bags and stay at her guest house in the Pankisi Valley! The enthusiasm she inspired in me was another bias I had to withhold when writing the case, as we wanted to make sure her story was told in the most accurate and factual way. Overall, I feel we accomplished our goal, and produced a really interesting case. 

Where do you want to go next with your career?

Next I plan to look for a position as an event manager in the South of France. I am completing my internship now, and have been working on some really interesting projects that I feel will propel me to a place where I am ready to take on a career in event management. Tourism will always remain close to my heart as well, as event management and tourism tend to go together.

I also am excited to continue writing my thesis on immersive experiences and hopefully publish my concise book with CABI on women in tourism, as both subjects interest me a lot.

Here is the link to my personal website, and the link to my Linkedin profile to connect with me as I continue my professional journey!

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