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Fast Forward 15 celebrates graduates at Tobacco Dock

Graduates of the Fast Forward 15 mentoring programme were celebrated in a ceremony to mark their achievements throughout the past year.

The mentorship programme, set up by Fay Sharpe to champion female event professionals, pairs 15 mentees and mentors from across the events industry with the aim of reaching goals and enhancing careers.

The graduation ceremony at Tobacco Dock London took the form of a hybrid event with more than 50 guests in the room and a handful remotely accessing the event via video link.

The event kicked off with a welcome from Fay Sharpe who shared her personal and professional journey which led her to launch the programme in 2014 and continually champion female event professionals.

It was then time to hear from the mentees in the 2020/21 intake who creatively presented what they had gained from the programme and shared some advice with future mentees.

Michelle Wheatley, global operations manager at BCD Meetings & Events, who was mentored by Andrew Mosley, GM at The Grand Brighton, reminded us that this past year has been a marathon, not a sprint.

Emma Barr, events and training advisor at The Royal College of Midwives, who was mentored by Debra Nightingale, events and communications director at All Bright Communications, said her biggest takeaway from the programme was confidence.

“Believe in yourself, aim high and set your goals high. You are worthy and never be afraid to ask for help,” Barr said.

The advice and learnings came thick and fast from the mentees as Joanna Stachowicz, client services director at Pure Communications said: “It’s not always about the big goals but also about the mini-goals along the way to get you to where you want to be.”

Another mentee, Katie Garrahy who is head of sales at Roomzzz Aparthotels said the programme has taught her that she is capable of anything. “I can do anything I put my mind to and my mentor Jane Culcheth Beard who is customer events and experience director at Teradata, helped me achieve this.

“I’ve realised that not everyone will like me and that’s okay. I try to be my authentic self and this makes making decisions a lot easier.”

The next group of mentees described what they had got out of the programme through the medium of cocktail making with each ingredient representing an element of their Fast Forward 15 journey.

Chloe Bucknell, marketing director at CB Digital Design created the Pivot O’Clock cocktail with a dash of gin to represent the strong character she is, sugar syrup for all the silver linings that came out of the pandemic and Mediterranean tonic water because Chloe aims to run her business from a beach anywhere in the world.

The final group of mentees recorded a live podcast called Get Glowing: The World Needs Your Magic with Juliet Tripp, senior events manager at Chemical Watch, Alexandra Stenson Higher Executive Officer at HMRC and Emily Hume, client executive at Threefold and founder Fudged It. The live podcast was hosted by mentor by Kelly Frew, inaugural events director at Carnival UK.

The podcast covered a series of topics, primarily the pandemic and the leading ladies shared their best advice.

Alexandra Stenson said her most valuable takeaway from the programme was how resilient she realised she was. “This last year has taught us that we can keep going. Making the most of the crisis and keep going at every turn.”

Juliet Tripp added: “It’s not just about finding your worth, it’s about keeping it too. Know what you stand for and know who you are.”

Emily Hume said her best advice would to “be completely honest and open and be open to that change.”

Jonathan Read, commercial director at Tobacco Dock told M&IT he was delighted to finally have an event back at the venue.

“Tobacco Dock was delighted to support Fast Forward 15 and host the graduation and inauguration event. The mentees, mentors and supporters of the programme are a true representation of the grit, determination, creativity and ambition the events industry embodies – values that Tobacco Dock holds dear. We look forward to developing a long-term relationship with Fay’s brilliant mentoring programme.”

Given that Fast Forward 15 is a not-for-profit enterprise, the audio-visual equipment and expertise was donated by Anna Valley. The AV specialists created the seamless virtual element of the hybrid event.

“It’s been heartbreaking to see the effect the pandemic has had on the industry that we love, as well as our friends and clients over the past 14 months. Although like many others we’ve been working on some fantastic virtual projects which have forced us to push technology even further, to be able to help an initiative like Fast Forward 15 at an iconic venue with a live audience, at what feels like a turning point in the re-emergence of live events, has been a real privilege,” Anna Valley director of business development Dan Orchard said.

“The FF15 program is going above and beyond to give the next generation of event industry talent meaningful learning opportunities with industry leaders, and this has never been more important at a time when sadly we’ve lost talent to other industries through redundancies.”

Find out more about the Fast Forward 15 programme and how you can get involved here.

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