Sisters are doing it for themselves: Fast Forward 15 graduation party

They say the future is female and Fast Forward 15 is helping to bring that to fruition.

In 2014, meetings and events industry veteran, Fay Sharpe launched Fast Forward 15, a mentoring programme set up to give 15 female professionals a voice in the events industry. Although the industry is made up of a 75 per cent female majority, only 20 per cent are in top-level jobs.

The Fast Forward 15 programme takes on 15 female industry professionals every year for a 12-month mentoring programme. The scheme incorporates one-to-one sessions between mentors and mentees, group workshops and culminates in the graduation ceremony, which was held on board the Silver Sturgeon on the River Thames this year. The programme aims to encourage mentees to achieve their professional and personal goals, from learning to ride a bicycle to getting a promotion.

M&IT was invited along to see what the women on the programme had achieved during their time in the Fast Forward 15 programme and to welcome in next year’s mentees and mentors.

The event began with a bubbly reception looking out over what was a particularly grey day in Central London. But inside the boat, colour, charisma and pride filled every corner. Mentors and mentees congratulated each other and conversation of what next year’s Fast Forward 15 candidates will achieve, set an inspiring tone.

Alison Makosz, head of sales at Conference Care, told M&IT that her mentor Andrew Mosley, general manager at Grand Hotel Brighton was a “force to be reckoned with.”

“He constantly tested me and our relationship was built on trust and based on honesty because you’re not going to get anywhere unless you fully open up,” Makosz added.

When questioned where she was headed now she had graduated from the programme, she jokingly replied, “To the bar,” but quickly retracted the statement and revealed she’s three month’s pregnant – a miracle the doctors said would never happen.

“For me, it’s really about the three to five-year plan now. This has given me the foundations to really look forward to where I want to be. It’s about engaging all of those goals and not just saying goodbye to them, it’s about refreshing them and making sure they’re current to me.”

Her advice to future mentees: “Be prepared, its hard work. Enjoy it, put as much in as you possibly can because you’ll get so much more out of it.

“Get involved and push your comfort zone. Make sure you speak to people in the programme that you wouldn’t normally speak to.”

Each of 2019 mentees gave a short talk about their experiences on the programme which gave the audience an insight into how much they had achieved. There was a theme of promotions, job swaps, pay rises, sporting personal bests and most excitingly of all, a few pregnancy announcements.

Many of the graduates echoed the sentiment that the Fast Forward 15 programme had given them the confidence and stability to think about a family and worry less about what taking maternity leave would do to their career.

We’re looking forward to seeing what next year’s Fast Forward 15 mentees will achieve. No doubt they will continue to inspire and empower female industry professional, just as every year of graduates has done before them.