Emily King speaks to Fay Sharpe, managing director of the Zibrant agency and driving force behind Fast Forward 15, a mentoring programme for women in the MICE, hospitality, and associated industry launched last year. It gives 15 women each intake the chance to be mentored by an industry expert for a year.
Why did you feel the need to start this programme?
Zibrant won a place on The Times Top 50 Companies for Women to work for – something which set us apart was the consistently equal numbers of women on the board and senior management. I wondered why is this was not reflected in our industry.
I believe that many more women are career focused than is perceived but quite often need guidance to realise their potential; this is at all levels from graduate through to MD.
Having achieved success in the events industry and being at a point in my life where I wanted to be a positive role model, I was keen to both give something back, and encourage others to do the same. This was the key motivator for Fast Forward 15.
How has the programme progressed?
Fast Forward 15 has had considerable success since it began, delivering tangible results. All of the mentees are different and have their own special skills and talents. I have been surprised by the development of those who didn’t have a goal in place when they joined, but by simply talking through their aims, objectives and what they wanted to achieve in life, they got there. They have surprised me in their ability to seize the bull by the horns. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their commitment and dedication is something to be admired.
Currently Kate Dashper from Leeds Beckett University is conducting an ROI assessment of the programme, the results of which will be published later this year.
What are the aims of the programme and what does the programme entail?
The programme follows the selection process and a launch event in the second half of March and runs for exactly one year.
Personal development is a component at any stage of your career and we are reaching out across the length and breadth of the career path. Within the boundaries of the founding criteria we wanted to be as inclusive as possible inviting women from all stages of their professional career.
We have incorporated an Apprentice-style challenge, ongoing training and development for both successful and unsuccessful candidates.
Why do you feel the programme is important within today’s society?
Women have to work harder to gain more recognition and career progression in the workplace. The mentors and I want to address this concern, with Fast Forward 15. 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, remember it is these people who will be securing the future of hospitality in years to come.
For more information and to apply for the next round, visit: www.fastforward15.co.uk