Earlier this year I launched a mentoring scheme, Fast Forward 15, to encourage and inspire talented women within the events and hospitality sector to be the best they can be.
Online applications are still open and I am pleased to reveal that we already have received many applications with more being registered each day. As you can imagine, I am delighted with the initial response and with less than three weeks to go until the entry deadline, I want to use this blog to urge female meetings and events professionals to seize the opportunity, and be in with a chance to be mentored by some of the biggest names in hospitality over 2015/2016.
Promoting gender parity in the hospitality, and wider UK business, is a key message that we want to communicate , especially in the meetings and events sector. With 75 per cent of our industry makeup being female, this figure is nowhere near reflected within senior management teams and on boards up and down the country.
Women have to work harder to gain more recognition in the workplace and career progression and Fast Forward 15 is designed to tackle this issue head on. We believe that by highlighting the rising female stars in our industry we can start to develop meaningful gender balance, ensuring the best are able to flourish. It is these people who will be securing the future of hospitality in years to come. Furthermore, it will hopefully start to encourage more companies to consider more female candidates for management and board positions.
The programme spans a 12-month period, following the selection process and a launch event in the second half of March. Personal development is an important component at any stage of your career and we are reaching out across the length and breadth of the career path, inviting applications from a broad range of experience, from final year university students and graduates to maternity leave returners or the aspiring board director. Within the boundaries of the founding criteria we wanted to be as inclusive as possible inviting women from all stages of their professional career.
When all is said and done, Fast Forward 15 represents a fantastic opportunity for anyone in the meetings and events sector, you only have to look at some of our mentors: Sallie Coventry (Portfolio Director, IBTM), Joanna Lawlor (Global Events Director, AstraZeneca) and Karen Sumner (Senior Events Manager, Allen & Overy LLP), Jo Austin (Head of Sales, Lime Venue Portfolio) and Juliette Price (Executive Director, HBAA) to name a few.
Applications closed on Friday 27th February 2015 and I hope that any women reading this give careful consideration to applying, which can be done online at: http://www.fastforward15.co.uk
Fay Sharpe, managing director at Zibrant and founder of Fast Forward 15
Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor