“I’m looking forward”: Fay Sharpe on leaving BCD M&E

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Fay Sharpe, founder of Fast Forward 15. Fay Sharpe, founder of Fast Forward 15.

Fay Sharpe is set to focus on new projects after leaving BCD Meetings & Events.

It marks the end of Sharpe's 30-year agency career. Sharpe cited charity hikes, bike rides and fashion shows as well as “some incredible events and pitches” as some of the highlights of the past three decades.

She said: “I’m sad to leave behind some wonderful work colleagues and friends. I’ll be focusing on Fast Forward 15 and my new mentoring and retreat business. I’m looking forward.”

Sharpe said her departure made “absolute” sense and marks a natural conclusion to her time at BCD M&E.

“BCD have been great, they’re a nice company to work with, certainly no ill feelings,” she said. “Scott Graf (BCD global president) is an events man, he’s been lovely. And in the UK Helen McCabe (managing director) was one of my original team, she’s been really good to me.

“I’ve done so many things, I can only think positively of my experiences. I’d already gone to a non-executive role, and when everyone went on furlough I said to Helen I was happy to find a way to sort it out.

“It feels like the right time. Everything comes to a natural conclusion, this was the perfect conclusion for me.”

Sharpe’s agency journey began in the late 80s when she co-founded venue-finding agency IBR. In 2005 she masterminded the rebrand of events business Zibrant, which was bought by Nigel Cooper’s Motivcom in 2007 in a £15.9m deal. Motivcom was subsequently purchased by Sodexo in 2012, at which point Cooper and Sharpe bought back Zibrant.

“We then had a few really good years,” said Sharpe. “We took a strategy that we’d make a certain amount of money and pay everything else back to the staff. We had a community, we had a really glorious time. It was wonderful.”

BCD Meetings & Events purchased the Zibrant brand in July 2016.

Sharpe said: “I stayed on as VP, but I set myself a goal. I’ve been working in events 70 hours a week for 25 years, I decided to move to six or seven days a month, which I did last year. I was doing the frilly stuff.”

Sharpe's mentoring scheme Fast Forward 15 will carry on, and Sharpe is also launching two new brands under the FF15 umbrella – Mentoring Excellence and an as yet unnamed wellness brand.

She said: “I’m mentoring five executives at IMEX. I intend to mentor executives in the industry. I’ve got a world of experience and I love helping people achieve their goals.

“I’m also setting up a retreat business, so that individuals can come away on a healthy retreat and replenish themselves and set goals. I’ve got the first one planned for February.

“I’m trying to create something for everyone. For companies that want to bring in an expert, or for individuals.”

FF15 is kicking off again with the mentor recruitment, followed by the mentees in January.

“The programme is a lot of work, anyone who wants to be involved, let me know.

“I’m not rushing around at 300mph any more, I’ve got lots of things I want to do for myself.

“I’m happy, because sometimes i think sometimes you have to close off a few things to allow new things into your life.”

Paul Harvey
Written By
Paul Harvey
M&IT editor Paul Harvey is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. He began his career in the local press, working for various titles across the north. Since joining M&IT in 2013, he has become a trusted and respected voice in the sector, championing event professionals and reporting on all aspects of the events industry for the brand.

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