I was lucky enough to be a mentee in the 2016/2017 Fast Forward 15 programme. I remember listening to those graduating from the inaugural programme who sounded inspired, confident and were listing off professional achievements including new roles, well deserved promotions and business launches as well as personal accomplishments such as marathons run and houses bought. Although excited about the prospect of achieving so much, I looked at these successful women feeling a little overwhelmed and thinking I couldn’t possibly be so fortunate. However, even after the first meeting with my sensational mentor Tracy Halliwell, Director of Tourism, Conventions and Major Events, London & Partners, I started to change my mindset. Nearly 5 years on I have had numerous professional successes, am married, a home owner and the mother of two boys.
When I applied for Fast Forward 15, I was working as Head of Operations for an operational management company and I absolutely loved my job but I was struggling to dedicate any time to my progression, always prioritising my team, clients and events. My mentor helped me to make the decision to leave my existing role and focus on me, my goals and my future. I was amazed by how many opportunities became available just by opening myself up to them. Before finishing my notice period I had secured freelance projects and had an interview for what became my next full-time job 7 weeks later. The ultimate goal was to move into a more commercially focused role so with encouragement from my mentor, I took on additional responsibility and projects to make the shift to Event Director. For the last year, I worked as Director of Global Events at the Association of Corporate Treasurers. I had only been at the organisation for 2 months before we went into lockdown when I had to work whilst caring for my 6 month old son. Although it was an incredibly challenging time, I thrived working for such an agile organisation where I had the opportunity to launch two virtual events and move the entire event portfolio to digital offerings including an annual dinner for 300 people.
Whilst reflecting upon my journey since starting Fast Forward 15, I took a look at my ‘Business Plan on a Postage Stamp’ that we wrote as part of the programme to focus on our goals and the various steps required to reach them. I felt immense pressure to decide what I wanted and write the perfect plan but worked through it with my mentor and it really helped. I have used a similar approach recently when starting my own company, Latch Events, offering event management and consultancy services. I continue to draw on the many lessons learnt from Fast Forward 15 and am delighted to be returning as a mentor in 2022.
Fast Forward 15’s year-long programme is such a great scheme and I couldn’t recommend it more. Not only do you benefit from the meetings with your mentor but from increasing your network, peer support, attending development sessions and access to experts from various fields. Fast Forward 15 offers the opportunity to develop your personal impact by gaining visibility, exposure and confidence, and it does just that, not only for a year but if you make the most of the experience, I can personally vouch for a positive impact on your life for years to come.