Lynn Colledge, who became an HR professional in 1990, worked her way up to achieve her driving ambition to be an HR Director in 2005
In fact, Lynn went one step further by securing this dream position at Birmingham Royal Ballet, a job she recalls fondly:
“It was a lovely job, very interesting, but there comes a point when you know you’ve done all that you’re able to do so you ask yourself whether you want to carry on doing the same thing or move on and do something different.”
In fact, Lynn had a second ambition to run her own company. In March this year, she left her job at Birmingham Royal Ballet and set out on her next adventure.
“I decided to go for it. The kids had left home and I was more secure financially, the timing just seemed right to start my own HR consultancy, which I named The Art of HR.”
Having left her job and facing the challenges of establishing an HR business alone, Lynn began to look about for sources of professional support and advice. She spotted information about Meet a Mentor online and decided to give it a go. Even the world of online networking that’s so useful to new entrepreneurs was a fresh experience for Lynn:
“I hadn’t really had to bother with Twitter and Facebook and all that sort of stuff before because as an employee working for such a highly regarded brand, I didn’t really have to put myself out there. People would come to us!”
Despite a lack of experience, Lynn set up her social networks, throwing herself into the task with enthusiasm and learning as she went. One of things to catch Lynn’s eye was Solihull for Success, which is a local business advice and investment programme.
“Solihull for Success offers so much free help and support to business start ups and I decided to go along to all their events because they’d offer the chance to meet likeminded people and also, I’ll be able to learn the tricks of business that I’ve never had to learn before. So I put myself on everything I could find, including the Meet a Mentor event.”
One of the people Lynn spoke to at the event was Karen Jones, a mentor who runs a company called Infinite You, which delivers change management.
“I’s already met a few mentors with a finance background. Coming from the Arts sector and the not-for-profit world I didn’t feel I had much in common with them but I clicked with Karen instantly.”
Lynn, always keen to exploit opportunities to their fullest, saw the Meet a Mentor event as the chance to make other valuable connections too.
“Apart from the mentors, the event was also a great chance for networking. I met another woman who was setting up an enterprise related to equal opportunities, which obviously runs through the whole grain of HR so we’ve kept in touch and may work together.”
Meanwhile, Lynn and Karen forged a mentoring relationship, which initially saw the new entrepreneur through the early days, as Lynn remembers:
“Something I’m really not good at is not having enough to do and at the start I wasn’t as busy as I like to be. I went down a bit of a dip so I dug out Karen’s card. We had a chat and she suggested that to get out there, I could volunteer to introduce interview skills in secondary schools, not to earn money but to give back and stay active. I did it and it gave me a real sense of purpose and also helped me put together an important presentation about the skills my business can deliver to school kids, but also to professional, adult audiences. The activity itself is something I would never have thought of.”
So, does Lynn foresee her mentoring relationship with Karen continuing indefinitely?
“I really like Karen so I’d like to stay in touch because she’s such a nice person! The way we communicate is very informal. She might call and leave a voicemail, touching base. I may send her an email and say ‘I got a new customer today!’ It’s just nice to have somebody and I’m very grateful that she took the time to do what she did.”