FF15 Education Day - 6th September 2021

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. – Malcolm X

 Preparing for a strong and successful future is exactly what the Fast Forward 15 programme sets out to do, and 4 months in, all mentees were challenged to stretch themselves once more at the FF15 Education Day hosted by Fay Sharpe.

The day was generously hosted by the stunning etc. Venues County Hall; centrally located a short 5-minute walk from both London Waterloo and Westminster Stations. We were in one of 30 available rooms at the property, many of which (ours included) boast views over the iconic London rooftops out onto the River Thames. Lucky us!

As will be the case to ensure the safety of the events industry and everyone in it going forward, all attendees were asked to produce a negative COVID-test prior to arrival. How nice it then felt to be able to sit together, no masks, and really focus on the content of the day. There were nearly 30 in live attendance, and more that joined us virtually from Denmark and the US.

The day began with each mentee having to deliver a 3-minute elevator pitch to the room. Public speaking skills were really put to the test in this activity, and although nerve-wracking, it was amazing to be able to receive valuable feedback on how to improve, in a safe space where we are all focused on growth. Not to mention we had the amazing speaker and mentor, Shonali Devereaux, to give us her expert guidance!
We were later joined by previous mentee and founder of The Bulb, Selina Donald, who truly is a testament as to how beneficial and transforming the FF15 programme can be. Speaking with confidence and clarity, Selina shared some hard-hitting facts about waste in the industry. Most shocking for me was to know that events are in fact the 5th biggest polluter on the planet each year (Events Send). The Bulb works with companies to reduce this, and really is a service which every planner should be consulting, if this industry is serious about tackling climate change.

It goes without saying that another area to have affected us all in some way during the pandemic, is that of mental health. Mentor Joy Thomas, Associate Director at IQVIA and Mental Health First Aider, spoke to us next about the importance of keeping checks on ourselves, and how to promote wellbeing in the workplace. As with any behaviour, it is influenced from the top down, and Joy highlighted how managers in particular can look out for vulnerable staff and be role models for positive discussions on mental health.

After a gorgeous bento box lunch, featuring beetroot hummus and perfectly cooked salmon, Fay had all mentors and mentees get creative with a vision boarding and goal setting workshop. This was a favourite session for a lot of the mentees, as Charli Briggs, mentee and owner of Eventure, explains: “Fay spoke about how you can team up valued activities in order to make better use of your time. For example, combining wellness with work by bringing an hour of yoga into the workplace for all the team.” More often than not, we feel that we don’t have time to ‘do it all’ whilst working towards our goals, but as mentee Sarah highlighted, it’s “work smarter”, not harder.

Each year as part of the programme, mentees are tasked with delivering an event in order to raise money for charity; and so, the day concluded with all mentees pitching our charity event concept to Fay and the mentors. Whilst I’d love to share more now, you’ll have to stay tuned to the FF15 socials for the grand reveal…

Safe to say that we all left etc. County Hall feeling motivated and inspired after an “incredibly uplifting day”, as Sarah from ECI Partners rightly put it. Thank you to Fast Forward 15 and etc. venues for welcoming us in, and we look forward to seeing you at our event in 2022!

Olivia Salvage

etcvenues County Hall Exterior Evening Option 1

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