A view from Jackie Fast

Your career path is ultimately up to you

The more you are involved with anything and everything you can get your hands on, the more you will understand the potential of what you...

My career has definitely not been stable. I’ve always grappled with indecision. Born in Canada, I dreamed of travelling the world but then a backpacking trip made me think I would be more suited to a corporate environment.

At university, I started as a mathematician and graduated with a visual arts degree in fine art. I love to start down a path with vigour but then decide it’s the opposite of what I want to do, revert and then start down a new path with the same vigour. It is exhausting.

When I was 22, I wanted to change paths yet again and set off for London, having never been to the city before and with zero friends or family. With no support and my visa running out, I was fortunate enough to land a job at the Direct Marketing Association launching its first sponsorship department.

In less than three years, the department became the second-highest revenue contributor to the business. From there, my career supported the launch of Slingshot Sponsorship – an agency specialising in commercialising sponsorship rights for events, celebrities, music festivals, television shows, movies and more.

With offices worldwide and clients including the Extreme Tech Challenge, held at Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island, my career path has been anything but normal. And with so many false starts, I learnt some key career lessons.

Get involved

The more you are involved with anything and everything you can get your hands on, the more you will understand the potential of what you can do – and the more people you will meet who have the potential to support you along the way.

'No' isn't always the end of the road

I loved my first job in the UK but wanted a change. Unfortunately, my CV didn’t fit the "typical" sponsorship manager career path and I was turned down by every sponsorship agency in the UK at the time.

I was heartbroken. But instead of just taking a different job at a media agency, I decided to find another way to break into the industry.

Take risks

With only £2k and a laptop, I launched Slingshot from my bedroom just over six years ago. In the early days, I didn’t even have an office phone number, let alone any concept of how sponsorship agencies worked.

Most days, my typical journey would be from my bedroom to the fridge. But it paid off and we started getting work

Make friends

In the early days, we didn’t have enough money to hire employees. However, I knew how important it is to get advice and have a team of people around you who support your vision. I reached out to anyone who would have a coffee with me and picked their brain about their vision of the future of sponsorship and how they ran their own agencies.

I’m so fortunate that these relationships still exist – a lot of Slingshot’s success is supported through their insight, input and referrals.

Go your own way

Listening to advice is absolutely critical. However, your career path is ultimately up to you.

Jackie Fast is the managing director of Slingshot Sponsorship. Fast was featured in Media Week's 30 Under 30 in 2012