The Ascent Luminaries, made possible by VisitDallas, is part of the PCMA Ascent initiative, which seeks to promote inclusion and diversity across the business events industry.
It was at an event — the Event 100 celebrating the top 100 people in the U.K. events industry —that Fay Sharpe had her aha moment. Women in the events industry outnumber men by nearly three-to-one, she said, but only 20 of the 100 people honored that year were women.
“I was a bit miffed,” said Sharpe, recalling that event nearly eight years ago. So Sharpe — honored this month in PCMA’s Ascent Luminaries video series — went to work on a solution, founding Fast Forward 15, an initiative focused on mentoring 15 women in the events, hospitality, and travel industries each year. In five years, the award-winning not-for-profit has mentored more than 75 women, said Sharpe, the vice president of EMEA Communications, CSR, and Engagement, for BCD Meetings & Events. Previously, Sharpe was a founder-shareholder of Zibrant, which was one of the U.K.’s largest meetings and events companies before it was acquired by BCD in 2016.
Read more about the mentoring programme Fast Forward 15 and its mission to develop the careers of females of the future.
During her nearly 30 years in the events industry, Sharpe has seen the struggle faced by women in the sector to get the mentoring that she sees as so crucial for career advancement. Through Fast Forward 15, women are, the website says, “mentored, encouraged, and advised by an industry expert for one year.”
Mentoring, Sharpe said, is not about telling someone what to do. “It’s about hearing what their challenges are and helping them find their own solutions.”
Plus, she added, it “enables people to believe in themselves. And that one little thing can make the difference in their careers.”
Learn more about Fast Forward 15 at fastforward15.co.uk.