Offering five iconic venues, The Forum Company has consistently delivered extraordinary experiences since 2003. Our portfolio includes The Campus, Turbine Hall, White Light and, l’Antico Giardino in Johannesburg, plus Embassy Hill in Cape Town. Each venue is differentiated by diversity of setting, but all offer the same top pedigree of tailor-made event products and are able to service both corporate and leisure hospitality. We sat down with Julie Hardres-Williams, Senior Events Coordinator at The Forum Company and MICE specialist, who has recently been announced as one of the Top 40 Women in MICE for 2018. The Top 40 Women in MICE Awards is an annual accolade acknowledging the most dynamic women in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions industry in South Africa
Congratulations! The acronym MICE stands for meetings, incentives, conferencing & exhibitions. Tell us more about The Top 40 Women in MICE Awards and how this recognition impacts on your role at The Forum Company? Started in 2014, Women in MICE encourages excellence and promotes greater mentorship amongst women within the area of MICE by tracking their stories and celebrating the ways in which they are impacting the industry. It is an thrill and honour to be included in this prestigious list!
Give us a brief overview of skills essential to being a MICE professional? Communication skills, problem solving, crisis management, a passion for people and for events as well as a great knowledge of your venue and industry. It is important to be agile and creative in your thinking and to always remain calm.
How do you manage the pressures of this notoriously demanding industry? It is well known that the MICE environment is demanding and pressurised. It certainly takes a particular type of person to survive and thrive in this industry. I’ve learnt that a level head and a thick skin is essential.
Do you have a mentor and how has this supported your career? I have been fortunate to be mentored by our Operations Director here at The Forum Company Kim Roberts. During the past 3 and a half years of being at The Forum Company she has supported me in my role and has shown me the ropes. Through her generosity and experience I have been able to up-skill to another level and do well in my position.
In general 2018 has been a tough year for business...how has The Forum Company been able to respond to the demands of your Clients? We strive to assist our clients as much as possible to accommodate their needs with special requests and budget restraints.
How is The Forum Company responding to corporate clients looking for more experiential events. Our venue is designed in such away that the spaces can be completely transformed to the clients requirements with lighting, props, different setups.
In your view what makes The Forum company a thought leader in the industry? Our industry demands that we offer innovative and fresh solutions. We are fortunate in that we can offer our unique events spaces and call on our brilliant team of chefs to create ever changing menus which reflect global trends.
Venues will provide more than just space - what is your response to this statement? I definitely agree! We provide a 5 star experience in all the services we provide. From fine foods to excellent service to natural light in the our spaces. The Forum Company strives to deliver experiences to our clients.
Has mental well-being /wellness become a focus for clients? And how does The Forum company service these requests? Yes this has, clients want more of a stress free environment especially when they are hosting intense conferences and meetings. With our open spaces, natural light and rooms with a difference, our clients do not feel like they are in a generic conference venue. We have endorsed and encourage the “healthy body, healthy mind” philosophy which means we promote healthier choices when it comes to food and beverages.
Has The Forum Company called time out on plastic disposables and how are you addressing “green “ demands from the market? We take environmental concerns very seriously and with so much emphasis on the removal of single use plastics we have already implemented paper straws. Other initiatives we champion are glass water bottles versus plastic - these can be reused or recycled. Plus we came up with an eco pen for corporate use at conferences, which has been around for years now and the great thing about these pens is they can be recycled. Our entire food philosophy is based on the “ farm-to-fork” movement which is more gentle on our planet.
With a greater awareness of fitness - what activities has The Forum Company developed to satisfy clients interest in movement and exercise-based activities. This goes hand in hand with our commitment to promoting healthier choices. Our park-like surroundings at the forum the campus encourages delegates to get outside and take a walk. We are lucky to have our mashie golf course on site which offers super team building opportunities or competitions. We also promote the idea of standing networking sessions, meeting and lunches - this encourages delegates to be less sedentary move around, enjoy fresh air and walk across the courtyard.