60 seconds with...Melissa Noakes and Max Fellows

Event speaks to Melissa Noakes, former head of events at Sony Mobile, and Max Fellows, head of client services at agency Clive, who founded the mentoring scheme Elevate alongside Courtney Baisch, talent manager at Amplify.

Mentoring scheme Elevate launched in October
Mentoring scheme Elevate launched in October

The Elevate mentoring scheme launched three months ago, and attracted 140 registrations in one week. Event attended the first Elevate Live last night (26 January), and caught up with the scheme's founders, Max Fellows and Melissa Noakes, about the purpose of the scheme and the significance of Elevate Live.

How did the Elevate mentoring scheme come about?

Fellows: "This scheme is a way of making mentoring accessible to the masses, and giving the chance to tap into that knowledge and create that wider network. Ultimately it's a connection. The live element is playing true to the fact that we are in an events industry, and it's about face-to-face engagement. People are breaking away, and having conversations, and it's about providing the opportunity to do so, and hopefully it's interesting content that people can take something away from."

Noakes: "It's about the industry supporting each other. There's so many brilliant people doing interesting things, but because we're all so busy you never get the chance to hear about them. We get so busy day-to-day, and we're so wrapped up in it all, that actually we lose the chance to connect with other people, learn new things and be inspired. Because at every point in your journey, you can learn something more. I think it's really important to take the time to go and learn and develop and grow in this industry which has so much to offer, and there are so many good people within it doing great things."

What's the significance of Elevate Live?

Fellows: "The challenge with live events is that you have such a wide depth and breadth of audience. Some are just starting out, others might be account directors looking to freelance, or you might even have a managing director or owner who wants to know what to do with their business and it's trying to make it relevant to everyone who's here at the live event."

Noakes: "We really wanted to be a platform for the events industry to come together at whatever stage, because the reality is that we all learn from each other. So if you can create a platform where CEOs, MDs, account directors, clients and agencies come together, it's what our industry needs. If we can have a common discourse and find a common connection, we're stronger."

Fellows: "Once upon a time, there was a very set structure, and a very set profile of someone who would go and set up their own business, or who could be a mentor. You don't need to be at the top of your game or have hit the peak of your career to be able to offer advice."

Noakes: "What we really wanted to do was create a platform for people from all different backgrounds, different ages or skillsets, because we all come from different walks of life and are at different stages but there's so much wisdom and experience. I love that about our industry - it's so broad and there's so much going on." 

How has the first Elevate Live been received and what's next? 

Fellows: "It's exactly what we imagined. In terms of taking it to the next step, there'll be an Elevate Live for mentors, so providing advice and support for more senior, although not necessarily all senior, people and talking them through how to get the most out of it and how to be a mentor. I was a mentor for the first time last year as well and it's easy to end up helping the person too much, when actually you want to help them just enough to give them the space to do some of the work themselves. So the idea is to stage an Elevate Live event every three months or so, and we may make it subject-specific, or keep it quite mentee/mentor - it is something we're thinking about."

Noakes: "The level of intake for Elevate; we were so surprised. We were amazed by the levels, and it just goes to show that there's a real need. We're just humbled to be part of it really, and to get the feedback we're getting. Helping people is what this is about, and doing it in a way where everyone feels good and everyone learns."

Any final comments?

Fellows: "It's been going for three months, and I already know someone who's got a new job because of it. It starts to become this network of people helping each other out. Those who have been in the industry a while have a duty, and that duty is to provide advice and support to make the industry a bit better."

Noakes: "There's a great Kevin Spacey quote, which I love, which is 'If you've done well enough to get to the top, it's your duty to send the elevator back down.' So many people want to help in some way, but don't know how. And so many people want a mentor, but don't know who to ask. When you set up a platform where you help connect, you realise so many people want to help. "

Fellows: "Because it's not for profit, and it's free, people are giving up their time to help. I think that makes it quite a unique offering. It's a feel-good, do-good type organisation."

More: 60 seconds with...San Miguel's Dharmesh Rana

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