Tomorrow Meets Today: driving diversity forward through networking

By Alice Finney

Now in its second year running, Tomorrow Meets Today (hashtag tmt… kind of like #tbt but way cooler?), an event organised by the partnership between veteran FM people Sajna Rahman and Andrew Hulbert took place on the 17th November and I was lucky enough to attend. Labelled as a networking event between the leaders of today and the future leaders of tomorrow, the night was much, much more than this.

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Everyone listening attentively to Sajna & Andrew kicking off the evening

Held in the glamorous Avequia London’s interactive cooking headquarters, everyone attending #tmt was first greeted by the camera and a glass of bubbles. Upon arrival, we were immediately rushed off to have our headshots taken, making it feel as if we were Kylie Jenner stepping out at Paris Fashion Week.

Following the paparazzi style introductions, we began the evening of cooking. Split into five teams, each with two “leaders of today” accompanying us (and a Michelin chef) we cracked on with preparing our dinners. My team was lucky enough to be tasked with making the starters. Poached quails eggs, along with duck kidney, apple puree and a salad garnish were all the menu.

Can my smile get any bigger?
Can my smile get any bigger?

Forming relationships with people organically over the cooking process, and the odd glass of wine, proved to be hugely rewarding. We were able to help each other out with the different cooking tasks (turns out using a blender with 3 horse power requires more than one pair of novice hands) and to get to know everyone in our team. You would be surprised by how much easier it is to get to know someone whilst in the kitchen, as opposed to in a corporate convention space. I found it really inspiring to hear others’ stories and their achievements throughout their working life. Listening to the kinds of jobs people started in and how they got to where they wanted to be reminded me that our paths are not fixed and we can change the direction we are headed, if we so desire.

Cooking up the poached quails egg storm
Cooking up the poached quails egg storm

The purpose of the night was to explore the concept “diversity of thought” through talking to people from a kaleidoscope of backgrounds and industries. In my limited experience of attending networking events, this was something totally new and exciting. Simply by having people at the event who were from outside of the FM industry meant that we were instantly discussing things from different perspectives. Conversation flowed from why we think there are so few women in leadership roles despite it being 2016, to how some places, particularly those outside of the capital can still be very racially homogenous.

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Tucking in to our first course

Having joined the FM circle at the beginning of the summer, I have now been to a fair few industry events and seminars. Although many of these talks have attempted to discuss the lack of diversity within the current workforce, I have found it increasingly frustrating to find that change is still super slow. Every event I attend I look around the room for people like me, women of colour and am sad to see that often, I am the only one. Our society is a wonderful mix of different cultures and races, often hailed as one of the most progressive societies in the Western world, and yet we are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to diversity in the workforce. Tomorrow Meets Today allowed us to discuss these kinds of issues, in an open environment and I feel we need more spaces like this. Furthermore, I found that being able to connect with people, especially the younger generation on these topics reinforced my feeling that more needs to be done; that there are people out there pushing for change. We just need to join together to ensure that this does happen.

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