We are well into our third year of the Fast Forward 15 programme and I am hugely impressed with the talent of this years' mentees.As we continue the programme the motivation behind the initiative still remains paramount as when I look back to when I started Zibrant over 25 years ago, the landscape in the MICE industry has changed dramatically. Consistent and solid growth means our industry is now valued at £26 billion. Growth in the sector has prompted a shift change in the academic aspects of our industry too, with many universities offering courses in events and hospitality, the uptake always high
With 75% of our industry being female, progression and the advancement of women up the ranks has always been a critical element of how I have developed the culture of my own organisation. For me, its about genuine equality through putting processes into place resulting in happy and motivated staff. A key part of this is mentoring, something which I have benefited from, continue to do and which my organisation sees as an everyday element of growing our pool of talent. The outcome for Zibrant has been celebrated through multiple award wins in events, incentives, our people and recognition of being one of the Times Top 50 companies for women.
We are not alone in this quest, in the United Kingdom, the business and executive search communities have also taken the lead, with initiatives in place to develop candidates by providing opportunities to gain visibility, exposure and confidence. Mentoring is favored as a preferred method of achieving this growth and personal development.
The Zibrant Fast Forward 15 mentoring programme is a not for profit initiative spanning across our industry, giving access to and insight from some of the leaders in our field; an inspiring portfolio of influential and select talent who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with our stars of the future.
The programme runs for a 12 month period during which time mentees and their mentor work together to achieve objectives and goals. The programme includes 2 group workshops and monthly one to one mentoring and concludes with a graduation ceremony. Supported by industry leaders from both agency and corporate environments the programme is endorsed by the HBAA, MPI and Women's Business Council.
I look forward to continuing another exciting and sucessful year with our 2017 mentees.
P.S. View a short video here from our 2015 launch event explaining why I have been inspired to set up Fast Forward 15 and my top tips for success:
To inspire, encourage and empower women in the events, hospitality and related industry to be the best they can be.
Specifically: Giving 15 women the opportunity to be mentored, encouraged and advised by an industry expert for 1 year, as well as becoming part of a wider community of successful women supporters.
The Fast Forward 15 (FF15) mentoring programme welcomes applications from women in the MICE, hospitality and associated industry. Are you …
Successful applicants will be required to sign and return a Mentoring Contract prior to the commencement of the programme. This will contain full details and clauses relating to the programme.
Unsuccessful applicants will be offered the opportunity to join the FF15 networking forum providing a platform for discussion across the industry for all women in business related topics. An electronic networking environment, the FF15 networking forum is hosted and administered by Zibrant.
We are thrilled to be working with some truly inspirational industry leaders on our 2017 programme and are very excited for their invaluable contribution to the programme.
We are in the process of confirming mentors for 2018, watch this space for the line up!
Jackie has had over 30 years working in the UK hospitality industry, marketing and selling hotel group and venues, including Hilton, Vienna, and Comfort Hotels, along with 9 years at the new Wembley Stadium, where she was part of the pre-opening and mobilisation team. She has first- hand experience of selling into the MICE, Corporate and Leisure markets, and has been an active member of several industry Associations serving either as a Board member or a founding partner.
Her current role as Head of Events for The Barbican involves her working across its vast portfolio of venues, continuing its growth and commercial success in the domestic and international business events market, whilst blending in with the artistic offer to create bespoke and memorable events for business clients, and at the same time connecting with the arts programmes.
A winner in the supplier/venue category of the UK Event Hot 50 Awards 2016, Jackie is regularly featured in a variety of meetings and events industry honours lists. These include C&IT’s Venue Heads, where she has been voted 3rd in the UK, along with Event Management’s Event 100 Club where she was placed 18th out of 100. She has also been included in C&IT’s Power 50 – the most 50 most influential people in the UK Meetings and Event industry.
Tony is a business leader with a strong background in Finance, Business Management and People Development at Ingram Micro, the words largest IT Distributor, where he has held a number of Senior Management positions in the UK and overseas.
As a qualified CIMA Accountant Tony’s current role at Ingram UK is the Finance Director accountable for all aspects of finance. This includes Mergers & Acquisitions, Commercial Decision Taking, Strategic Planning & Budgeting, Adherence to US Corporate policies, Working Capital Management and Specific Finance Projects. He is also Black Belt qualified in Six Sigma.
As a Commercially minded FD his approach to this role is influenced by my non-conventional background.
As a teenager he competed for the country in the Long Jump and then attained a BA Joint Honours degree in Music and Sports Science. Over the last 10 years he has established himself as an ambassador for the national Alzheimer’s Society raising more than £100k in funds for the cause, by a series of madcap challenges which have included cycling Land’s End to John O-Groats on a mountain bike, Kayaking the length of the Thames and back to back Paris and London marathons with a cycle in between. The awareness raising peaked in 2015 when on April 25th, as he was preparing to leave the worlds’ highest Mountain, Nepal was hit by a magnitude 7.8 Earthquake.
Dawn-Louise has more than 15 years’ experience in developing communications, change and marketing strategies specialising in social media. With her passion for helping businesses improve their visibility through their online business voice, Dawn-Louise founded sm2communicate in 2012. Together with her team, she helps clients reach new audiences, customers, suppliers, employees and even competitors. Her knowledge of social media and collaborations platforms as an increasingly-important element within any business marketing strategy has enabled her to help businesses capitalize on new audiences and opportunities for growth.She develops and implements effective digital and social marketing strategies to collect research and insight, improve business ranking on search engines and give a consistent online voice to businesses. Dawn works to provide innovative solutions to assist businesses, with sm2communicate offering expertise on a wide range of social media.
Dawn’s current role is Marketing Manager in Marketing Transformation. This is a three year programme within Group Brands & Marketing, and is about creating the right outcomes to engage better with customers and ensuring the enablers are in place to get there. As part of her role within this programme, she is required to upskill roughly 300 marketers who work under the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland brands. This requires her to stay at the forefront of the latest digital developments and how consumers change the way they interact with a brand.
Prior to this Dawn worked as an experienced Events Manager within the Corporate Sector, spending six years working with different business units at Lloyds Banking Group and prior to that within Professional Services. Her last role was Event and Marketing Manager for the Wealth Division where responsibilities included; formulating the UK Wealth events plan in line with the business areas’ strategic marketing plan, creating a new initiative to leverage events as a content marketing tactic and helping ensure brand consistency and engagement by chairing the Retail and Wealth Marketing Communications creative review, where all above-the-line and existing client campaigns are reviewed.
Caroline has over 30 years of experience designing, delivering, teaching and researching events. She has been a founding member of organisations involved with furthering the importance of events, including the Association for Events Management Education, which she currently chairs. Having worked in leisure, providing events from county shows to international sports events, she moved into academia. Once at Bournemouth University, Caroline developed some of the first higher education qualifications in events management and established its world leading Events & Leisure Department.
Working tirelessly to blend education and practice, Caroline has been recognised for her contribution by being elected Vice Chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP). BVEP is the umbrella organisation that represents the UK leading trade and professional organisations, government agencies and other significant influencers in the business visits and events sector.
Caroline is passionate about advancing the profile and performance of the valuable people within the events sector. Having led major departments in leisure and events she has the experience and interest to contribute to the Fast Forward 15 programme.
Caroline has researched, presented and published on music festivals, music tourism, the event experience, the planning and sponsorship of events and event education. She is currently investigating creativity in events, supported by the Events Industry Forum and the professionalisation of the event sector supported by BVEP. She keeps ahead of developments and has just completed a project creating a Virtual Interactive Environment for Event Planning.
Becci Thomson, Head of Corporate Sales at The O2 has over 8 years of event industry experience, with an impressive record of achievement and demonstrated success in driving sales growth in a range of competitive industries. At 28, she has worked client side, within catering and venue side with 6 venue launches under her belt.
At The O2, Becci is responsible for the pro-active promotion and sale of eight diverse event spaces for corporate and special events, from European film premieres to nationally televised events. Under Becci’s leadership, four major new arena events were secured for the venue in 2016, alongside an extensive pipeline of business for 2017 and beyond.
Becci has worked with a number of brands during her career including Nike, New Look, WWE, Capital FM, Paramount and BBC to help deliver events and activations that push the boundaries and further increase The O2’s exposure and industry leading reputation.
Becci is social media savvy and has utilised a mixture of channels including Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram to successfully raise the profile of herself and The O2. Working closely with The O2’s in-house social media and marketing team, Becci has brought the same buzz and excitement to private events as there is for public events, treating guests as fans and ensuring the experience is at the heart of every event.
Just recently, she was recognised by Event Magazine for her influential role at The O2 and was ranked as the most influential female event professional in the 30 under 30 category.
Outside work Becci is a keen foodie and enjoys seeking out new restaurants to experience new culinary delights and food trends. To balance it out, Becci is a self-confessed fitness freak and this year will be running two half marathons.
Anthony has over 20 years of experience in the meetings and events industry and recently joined BCD Meetings & Events as Senior Director, Event Business Development. He is a proven sales leader with a strong background in both marketing and operations and is dedicated to helping his staff and clients drive results through a focused approach which involves creating and living by work and life goals.
Josef is the former Head of Events at the British Fashion Council (BFC), which is behind the capital's globally renowned London Fashion Week and London Fashion Weekend events as well as the annual British Fashion Awards. He joined the BFC in 2013 one day before London Fashion week commenced, which set the tone for what has been an exciting, fast paced and rewarding role ever since. Josef delivers the annual events portfolio for the BFC with events in London and across the globe, and as part of the senior management team develops and delivers the company's strategic goals.
Josef's initial experience was working within various roles in both hotel operations and sales and marketing for the Lanesborough Hotel, Marcus Evans and Mason Rose, before an opportunity arose to join INCA, one of London's leading lifestyle event production agencies. Within this role Josef produced and directed events for clients such as Vertu, Marks & Spencer, Nike and L'Oreal as well as Fashion Shows for Diesel Black Gold New York, and Naomi Campbell's Fashion for Relief and the British Fashion Awards. Josef's time here gave him a solid foundation and knowledge for progressing in the industry and after five rewarding and successful years Josef moved on to be the Event Director at Jackie Cooper PR (now Edelman Brand). Here Josef was responsible for strategising, planning and executing all events and experiential activities across the agency, managing budgets up to £1 million and working with clients such as Microsoft, Starbucks, Motorola, Shell and Covent Garden London.
Josef's inspiration comes from living in London, surrounded by music, film, galleries and a wonderful range of diverse cultures. He is a dynamic team leader and enjoys working on projects that include problem solving with creativity, and the opportunity to utilise skills while gaining new ones. Josef is very interested in anything to do with mindfulness and how to balance a busy job with a calm mind-set.
Justine has spent the past four years as Co-founder and Course Director at The Event Academy and five years prior to that with the international event management training institute, placing hundreds of graduates into roles and tutoring them through to successful qualification.
Justine has also worked with some of the UK's largest companies and charities to plan and deliver first class events and live experiences for the past 18 years (further details below).
As winner of the IEAM '2014 Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment and Arts Industry', Justine also sits on the committee for the In-house Corporate Event Awards.
She has a BSc degree in Psychology at St Mary's Honours College, Maryland, USA, before embarking on a career in events as an account executive for Ergo Communications, London. In this role she developed her business experience and gained solid account management and logistical event skills.
Since then Justine has worked in both the profit and non-profit sectors on a consultancy basis and has an extensive experience of working with many event agencies. Clients and employers have included WWF-UK, Haagen Dazs, Mars, AXA and ABN Amro. Her consultancy and training over the years has meant that Justine's list of contacts within the events world is unparalleled.
She lives in the South of England with her two young boys and loves to entertain and socialise and has a passion for tennis. She is currently training for a number of long distance running events.
Over the last 20 years, Martin has worked in the international hospitality industry within hotels, meetings and congress. Initially working as a supplier in hotels and as a PCO from 1996 – 2007, Martin moved to the corporate side in 2007 and since then, has worked for H. Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals where he is responsible for global meeting, event and congress management within strategic marketing. Martin later worked in Global Product Strategy & Portfolio Development and currently works within Global Marketing. Martin holds an MSc in International Hospitality Management and a BA (Hons) in Hotel Management.
Since 2007, Martin has represented H. Lundbeck on the council of IPCAA (International Pharmaceutical Congress Advisory Association). Between January 2011 and January 2013, Martin was Vice President of IPCAA with special focus on strategic alliances; he has been Co-President since 2013.
Lipika has a career spanning over 20 years in the meetings and events industry within a diverse range of business sectors including Legal, Innovation, Pharmaceutical and Automotive, creating teams and providing creative solutions throughout the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.
As a career break, Lipika pursued her love for the mountains and set up an independent chalet business in the French Alps. After four years, Lipika sold the business and remained in the Alps working at a Geneva-based global events agency managing pharmaceutical accounts. Lipika returned to the UK a couple of years later, continuing to work in the pharmaceutical sector as-well as fulfilling her goal of completing an Interior Design diploma.
In her current role, Lipika is responsible for the management and strategic direction of the events team supporting the firm on client and internal events. Linklaters is a global law firm with a strong culture and leadership committed to their clients and their businesses. She is a strong believer in change and making it happen and this thread runs through into personal life. Alongside her day job, Lipika is co-chair of SEN, a Strategic Events Network - bringing together senior event professionals in the industry from legal, banking and professional services firms to knowledge share and also volunteers at ABC Animal Sanctuary, a registered charity based in West Sussex, offering event and marketing services.
Lipika enjoys the balance of working in the city and living in West Sussex in the heart of the South Downs where she can enjoy her passion for hiking and sailing. Other interests include skiing and she is currently using her interior design skills to renovate her house.
Joy is responsible for implementing and managing the internal event strategy for Lloyds Banking Group. She has taken the lead on the development and delivery of conceptual and creative solutions that excite and engage colleagues with the ultimate purpose of helping them to best serve Lloyds customers. Joy leads a team of event professionals based around the UK, creating effective, measured events from 40 – 4,000 delegates. Joy’s remit is also to oversee and manage the whole internal events spend for the group, including empowering colleagues to manage their own smaller events and event management training.
Joy is a go-to person for the whole of Lloyds Banking Group, working with like-minded individuals in a team of creative and comms industry specialists.
Previously to joining Lloyds Banking Group in January 2016, Joy worked for US decision analytics software business, FICO, where she operated as its Global Events Director.
Joy is a qualified junior football coach and a primary school Governor. With a degree in Design Studies, Joy loves to draw, enjoys architecture and design, travelling and being taxi-driver to her footballing, pianist 12-year old son.
Hannah Walley, Sales Director at Squaremeal, has 10 years’ experience in the events and hospitality sector. Hannah worked for two of London’s premier restaurant groups before moving to publishing house Monomax working across the Squaremeal products.
Having worked her way up through the ranks of D&D London, running events across their 30-strong restaurants and venues collection, as Head of Sales, Hannah was responsible for £15m events revenue across the group and for training and developing a team of 20 onsite event managers.
Hannah is passionate about the London restaurant scene and the growth of commercial opportunities available to help businesses thrive in this competitive environment. In addition, having managed some high profile corporate and celebrity events, she has a real appreciation for the hard work that goes into delivering top quality, unique experiences and the importance of client relationships.
Having started her career as a placement student from Bournemouth University, Hannah has continued to support under-graduate placement schemes and enjoys nurturing talent arriving into the industry from Events and Hospitality undergraduate programmes.
In her free time, Hannah enjoys exploring the street food markets and pop-ups events that London has to offer, as well as a good bottle of Malbec with friends.
Andrew's hotel general management career spans over 22 years, running hotels for Shire Hotels, Corus and Regal hotels, QHotels and De Vere Hotels including time as Director of Operations at The Belfry. He has also held Regional Director roles in addition to his General Management responsibilities.
Andrew moved to his current role as General Manager of The Grand Brighton in May 2010. Since joining he has ensured the Hotel has re-established itself as a first choice venue for business and leisure. Since 2010 turnover has increased by 50%, which has enabled staffing levels to grow by 40% - with most staff employed locally. The Hotel's success has been assisted by a £5 million refurbishment in 2012/13 and in 2014 Andrew oversaw the sale of the hotel by De Vere to Wittington Investments.
Andrew is the current Chair of the Meetings Industry Association - a post he has held since March 2014 and will handover in March 2016.
Andrew is a strong participant in Brighton's business community. This includes the work he does by sitting on the Boards of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and Rockinghorse - a local children's charity. This, along with the Hotel's performance and growth, resulted in Andrew being (very proudly!) awarded MD of The Year in the 2015 Brighton and Hove Business Awards.
During his career Andrew has dedicated time to developing people wanting to succeed in the Hospitality, Leisure and Events Industry. He is proud to have been an important part of the progression of a number of members of his management teams over the years who have gone on to hold General Manager/Director positions as a result. Andrew's management style is built on trust, energy and engagement. One of his beliefs is that we should all be looking "upwards and outwards" and enjoys showing his team what great practice looks like to help them develop.
Married with 2 daughters Andrew lives near Southampton and spends his time out with his family and friends. He also enjoys cycling and listening to music.
Steve's career and experience is incredibly diverse and within every role he undertakes he ensures he pushes himself outside of his comfort zone to better not only his life but also the lives of others.
Following a fall in Germany in 2005, Steve's life changed forever. In an instant he lost the use of his legs and sustained many other complications. As part of his rehabilitation he was introduced to wheelchair rugby and was inspired by the game and the player's attitude. Just five short months after his injury he went to his first training session.
After a long and devoted sporting career Steve progressed from club level to playing for country, and, ultimately London 2012 captain.
Steve supports and challenges individuals, schools, colleges and businesses to think differently. As a Youth Sport Trust Athlete mentor, his work varies from assisting students in overcoming adversity, physical or mental barriers to challenging talented students to hone their focus and resolve training issues to achieve the best in their field. Working closely with international companies such as Sky and Allianz, Steve works on changing the way business view disability; with the overall objective to explain some of the not-so-obvious advantages of having disabilities amongst their workforce.
Working in partnership with Sky Sports Steve promotes sport to all, both as a TV Presenter and as part of the Sky Sport Living for Sport program.
Steve speaks and works on behalf of local and national Charities that are dedicated to helping people better themselves through sport and the arts regardless of ability.
To compliment his working life, Steve still plays sport as well as volunteering time to develop and coach a brand new wheelchair rugby team in Canterbury.
In the programmer's inaugural year we were proud to work with the following mentors:
Alex James (Zibrant LIVE!), Hannah Rhodes (Hiver Beers), Jackie Mulligan (Leeds Beckett University), Jason Scott (Entrepreneur), Jo Austin (Lime Venue Portfolio), Joanna Lawlor (AstraZenca), Karen Sumner (Allen and Overy), Lex Butler (Wolf & White), Paul Beavis (Lanson), Sallie Coventry (IBTM) and Yasmin Arrigo (Haymarket Media Group).
Growth and development can span across your career. Your category selection and application will help us understand what you would like to achieve out of the Fast Forward 15 programme.
Applications for the 2017 Fast Forward 15 Programme are now closed and we re-open for the 2018 programme on 1st December 2017.