Jackie Fast: Beyond The Apprentice

Jackie Fast is a hardworking entrepreneur with one simple mission: to improve everything (usually by disrupting everything) and being the best in everything she does.


It’s safe to say that Jackie has had a varied career path. In 2016 she sold her first business and since then has written a book about challenging the norm in business. In 2018 she featured in the BBC TV show The Apprentice. Now Jackie lives a non-stop life, owning and investing in several businesses and travelling all over the world in her search for growth.


A day in Jackie’s busy life

My career is quite different from what it was even a year ago. Since selling my first business in 2016 and taking a year off, I now own 3 businesses (one of which is a million pound international business), I’m a Board Director of two, Key Investor of 3 and still tour the world public speaking.


It’s challenging trying to explain everything I do in one consistent way but in a nutshell, I make money – for other people, and myself; often disrupting the sectors with which I am involved or invested in.


This week has been interesting, I’ve been in three countries to speak at three different events, on three totally different topics (wine, marketing, HR). Today alone was a 3:45 am wake-up call to finish packing, printing out my monthly accounting, and packing up my REBEL Pi Ice Wine before my flight to Mumbai. I found out on my journey to the airport that I forgot to pack my travel cash, so was on the phone with my amazing assistant Mandy who makes my world go round about figuring out whether to send a bike courier to my flat to pick it up and whether it would arrive at Heathrow in time (we didn’t). Upon arrival at Heathrow, I went to finalise my speaking presentation on Employee Experience for the Mumbai HR Summit only to find I forgot to save all my work the other day, then spent an hour trying to recover it (I couldn’t).


I’m now on the plane writing this and responding to all the other emails I should have responded to weeks ago, including discussing another business investment I am making into an online B2B behavioural targeting agency.


The beauty of my current career status is that I am in a number of different areas – Wine, FinTech, Advertising and Sponsorship. I like the flexibility. I get bored quickly.


The challenges Jackie has faced and continues to face

As you can probably tell, every day is a challenge but that’s how I like it. As an individual, I feel quite anxious if I’m not constantly moving (forward or otherwise). When I sold my first business Slingshot Sponsorship, I really struggled with shifting my focus to being involved in different sectors and projects coming from only being focused on one goal – growing my sponsorship agency. Over the space of a year, I’ve learned how to adapt so I don’t feel overwhelmed with so much variance and now I really enjoy having so many balls in the air.

My driving force is trying to get better at my job. I’m constantly feeling like I can improve, which is a blessing and a curse, but essentially means that being hypercritical ensures I keep progressing. I’m still very early on in my career and it’s important for me to continue learning and adapting so hopefully in the future I won’t make the same mistakes and/or know how to deal with the setbacks better!

“I want to be the best in whatever sector or industry I am in.”

The way I’m wired gives me the determination to succeed. I think I’m lucky I have been successful, but success isn’t the driving force. I want to be the best I can be in whatever I do, and this determined viewpoint joins me in whatever project or business I put my time into – which is why I am lucky to have so many opportunities, people often want my time more than my money. I won’t do anything unless I think I can do things better than the next guy. Where that is a very negative thing is that it takes a lot to get me motivated and I also quickly can see whether a project is going to work. Over time I’ve learnt my lesson to only jump on board if I truly see an opportunity and a place for me to add value, otherwise I will quickly lose interest and spend my days watching Real Housewives of New York and eating Haribo.


What’s great about being a female in your role?

The combination of being young and female means that people often underestimate me. Men should know better by now quite frankly. They are often slow learners.


What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way? Because I lack patience, I often respond too quickly – which is an area I’d like to improve on to make me a better manager. However, what I lack in patience, I more than make up for with enthusiasm and energy, so I’ve learnt to work with people who can deal with my overzealous drive and are patient with me, rather than the other way around.


Jackie sees the positive side of being a female in business

I think being female is an asset in business, depending on your perspective. Often I’d be sitting on a panel at a fabulous conference and looking around the programme to see that my face was the only female face on a 3-day programme. It’s maybe not PC to say this but being female probably helped me advance my career more than it hurt it.


Saying that, do I feel proud that I got asked to be on a panel because I was female and not that I was awesome? Of course not, BUT getting on that stage to spread my message is the only thing that matters. It’s the business cards and the hundreds of clients I secured because I got on stage that is the important takeaway. As a reminder, I don’t want to be the best female. I want to be the best. Full stop.


Advice to other women in business

If you want something, ask for it. The one thing I have seen consistently across all sectors is that women want more – either pay, responsibility, or flexibility – but don’t ask. In an ideal world, the best employer will be able to read your mind, but if you are good at your job, quite honestly you hold the cards. Know your worth, and demand what you think you deserve. Don’t be complacent and disappointed. Business is about performance, if you are performing and you can prove it, and your advancement is in line with that – employers, regardless of gender, would be stupid not to give it to you!


If you want to be in a leadership position, stop talking and start doing. Look at who is a leader in your organisation – what kind of skills sets and experience do they have that you don’t? Fill in the gaps.


I did my finance masters while I was at work as I was blatantly told I didn’t have enough finance experience to take on the role as a Commercial Director. I went out and got it.

Don’t sit around expecting things to be handed to you. That’s not how it works.


If you're a fan of Jackie's blog and want to read about another straight talking business woman, make sure to read Cat Hudson's blog.

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