Return to events: how redundancy made me stronger

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The pandemic has had a devastating effect on many event professionals’ careers - here, current Fast Forward 15 mentee, Becky Davison, explains why being made redundant was a catalyst for personal positive change... 

Becky Davison

The events industry has a special place in my heart. My mum is the queen of organisation and from an early age I followed in her footsteps planning my own birthday parties.

Fast forward five or so years, my desire to travel led me to complete a Travel and Tourism BTEC at college. However, as time progressed, I began to see that there was a viable career in events management. Being able to combine my passion for travelling and my top-notch organisation skills into a career, I was thrilled. Seven years on, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. 

Then, picture this: it’s October 2020, you have already been on furlough for five months and the last event you ran was in February. Although the first month was enjoyable, the rest of the time was just a painful waiting game, but little did I know the waiting game would lead me to redundancy. 

Nothing can prepare you for redundancy, especially in a pandemic when your entire industry has collapsed. 

Big task

What do you do when your entire career has been events, yet you were put in a position where you had no choice but to leave the industry? I had a big task on my hands… 

Utilising my existing skills in a new profession was important to me and being the chatterbox I am, it was equally important that my new role involved working with people. After research and interviews, I found myself in recruitment. I had been in recruitment for two months and I already knew it wasn’t for me, but the events sector had not recovered yet and I was adamant my next events role had to tick all the boxes, so I stayed put. 

I describe myself as a tenacious individual, especially when it comes to personal and professional development. After applying for the Fast Forward 15 programme, not once, not twice but three times and being unsuccessful I thought it was time to leave that dream behind. At the end of 2020, I received an email from Fay Sharpe letting me know I could still apply for the programme even if I was not currently in the events industry. 

Beacon of hope 

That night, I applied to the Fast Forward 15 programme for the fourth and final time. 

In my previous applications, I wrote reams and reams about how I wanted to improve my confidence and I knew this application had to be different. I kept it short, sharp, and brutally honest. I had no idea what I wanted to accomplish, the only thing I knew for certain was that I had to get back to where I belonged, the events industry. The rest I hoped would just flow from there. 

Receiving the email informing me that I had made the 2021/22 cohort for the first time was indescribable. I was ecstatic. I was partnered with the incredibly successful Priya Narain. 

I don’t know why Priya chose me - maybe the fact we both love espresso martinis had something to do with it. Speaking to Priya in my first mentoring session helped me realise how adamant I was that my next role is one I want to stay in for a while. We worked together and wrote down a list of things I wanted from a new role but also qualities I was looking for within a company’s culture. 

Blessing in disguise

Being on the Fast Forward 15 programme so far has been even more incredible than I thought it would be. It has afforded me two amazing roles at two exceptional agencies. In hindsight, being made redundant was a blessing in disguise as I had been contemplating exiting the pharmaceutical industry for a while and I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason.

In September, I started my new role as account manager at First Event. Fast forward two months and I have already accomplished my biggest event achievement to date: managing two out of seven locations - simultaneously, may I add - for the largest crypto‐currency event in history. If that isn’t coming back to the industry with a bang, then I don’t know what is!

After a year of lockdowns, I understood the importance of bringing people back together and I wanted to play an integral role in making that happen. The events industry is so much more than logistics and that’s why I was desperate to return. The versatility, the people, the growth and the once in a lifetime experience invited me back.

Nothing is certain

If the pandemic taught me anything, it’s that nothing is certain and doing something you truly love is paramount. Being an events professional challenges me like nothing else, allows me to be creative and strategic at the same time and fulfils a personal goal of mine: to travel the world.

While it is important to plan for the future and admire where you have come from, it is also essential to not constantly look over your shoulder, worrying what may or may not come next. If, like me, you unfortunately got made redundant and you are scared about making the leap back into the events industry, trust me and just do it, it will be the best thing you ever do.

Holly Patrick
Written By
Holly Patrick
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A desire to travel led Holly Patrick to the business meetings and events world and she’s never looked back. Holly takes a particular interest in event sustainability and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. When she’s not working, she can be found rolling skating along Brighton seafront listening to an eclectic playlist, featuring the likes of Patti Smith, Sean Paul, and Arooj Aftab.

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