This is the story of Olivia Salvage:

“My path into events started when I was about 16 and got my first weekend job at a children’s indoor play centre, quite bizarrely. We would run birthday parties, and everything involved from checking the kids in to ensuring they had the right meals on their table (chicken nuggets of course), was so much fun to me.

Rest assured, organising children’s birthday parties after a Friday night hangover soon became painful! Realising that it was the live organisation aspect I loved, when we were tasked with finding work experience for 2 weeks during school, I looked further into the world of events and found a local wedding planner who was willing to take me on.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beautiful chaos; meeting with couples to plan their day, shopping for wholesale flowers at 5am on a Saturday, making invitations, place cards, building backdrops, stages and even breaking it all down at 2am on a Sunday. The 2-week placement turned into a 2-year employment where I did everything from company profit and loss to warehouse redecoration! I was set and decided that Event Management was what I wanted to study at University and went to Sheffield Hallam to do just that.

12 years later, I’m so proud of the journey I’ve been on and the direction of growth that I’m headed in. Whilst I always loved my career, I’d never really put goals or these dreams in my head to paper. Fast Forward 15 was such an instrumental change when it came to getting serious about organising myself towards these achievements rather than just going headfirst into opportunities.

During the programme, you really look inwards, and I was able to become confident about who I was, my likes and dislikes, and how to incorporate this into my career. One thing was my passion for nature and wildlife, which clashed with the industry in the vast amounts of waste I saw from events. I had made small changes at previous roles such as moving printed paper registration to digital excel check-ins & removing single-use plastics from hotel catering, but Fast Forward 15 helped me make sustainability a focus of my role, even if it wasn’t dictated by my employer.

Working in incentives for a global company made sustainability particularly challenging. Immediately, you have short & long-haul flights added to the mix, and so when my fellow FF15 mentee, Becca Whittles, taught me how to measure my carbon emissions, it was an eye-opening and sad figure. I was able to share this report with my team and so now, from the outset, we take every element of event design right from destination selection to menu items, and see how we can make it more sustainable and less wasteful.

I’m certainly no expert in it, but under the influence of my mentor, Joy Thomas, I decided to start-up an Instagram where I am sharing my experience with and learnings around sustainable incentive travel. Thanks to our industry, I am learning new things all the time, and thanks to my job, I am able to put creative solutions and trials into practice when organising incentives. It really is a passion of mine and so I truly enjoy spending my lunchtimes and evenings researching the topic, finding new sustainable destinations, venues & suppliers that are changing the incentive travel game.

Fast Forward 15 really showed me that when you find your niche and passion, there’s no reason to be quiet or embarrassed about it, which for some reason I was before. Fay taught us to be loud about what you enjoy, what you want, and the right things will follow. As such, I was able to do some great things such as travel to Switzerland to moderate a panel on ‘Swisstainability’, be named on the C&IT Incentive A-List, speak to my old school about my career and share my SHERO story with you right now!

After a busy two months, being out of the country more than I was in it and running a 3-day Convention for 5,000 people in Budapest, I’m about to sit down and revisit my goals, which I know now can constantly change. I have some exciting things coming up and look forward to utilising the momentum from Fast Forward 15 to grow my career further towards the direction I want, and to keep sustainability a top priority in our industry. So, watch this space and follow @theincentivetraveller to join the ride!”