Scottish Chambers of Commerce in partnership with the British Bankers' Association (BBA), provide a mentoring service to growing businesses in Scotland, where business leaders are mentored by experienced and skilled professionals from the banking industry.
In January 2015, Callum Murray (pictured) - director at Murray and Duncan mediators, began being mentored by John Muncey – Head of Mentor Services at RBS. Murray and Duncan provide a commercial mediation service and although the business’ roots are in resolving disputes within the construction sector, they are currently building an online dispute resolution platform to handle civil and commercial, workplace and employment settlements, across all industry sectors. Callum explains below how mentoring worked for him and John, and the benefit to his business of gaining access to a skilled and experienced mentor:
Why did you decide to become mentored?
“It was through word of mouth really, my Business Gateway growth advisor recommended I get in touch with the Scottish Chamber mentoring service so I gave them a call.”
How did the mentoring process work for you?
“Mentoring was really straightforward. John and I met every five or six weeks and it was a structured process where we knew in advance what was going to be discussed. I thought the programme was run well, it wasn’t as if I was just matched with anyone. There was an initial check-up from the mentoring team which was good since in some circumstances people might not match, but then they let us get on with it.”
Did you have any concerns before going into mentoring?
“My main concern was, “Is the person I’m matched with going to understand my sector?”. I also wondered if I would really get value from it, as it was a time commitment not just from the mentor but also from me. I`m glad to say my experience with John was the complete opposite.”
So what did you and John discuss?
“We focused on long term strategic plans and a lot of work was on decision making. John also shared great examples of best practice from his time in the banking industry, giving us ideas on how to develop sales channels and scale up. He also worked with us on pitches to secure investment.”
Has mentoring impacted upon your business?
“John helped me work on our pitch to the Scottish Edge Fund - what they might be looking for, what I should elaborate on. We ended up winning a £10,000 grant through the Young Edge to help develop the business.”
What was the single most valuable aspect of mentoring?
“The key to the whole experience was the range of contacts John put me in touch with. If he knew of someone else who was more experienced in a certain field, he opened those doors. I met with senior decision makers with 30 years of experience who gave me their insight on topics like pricing structure, revenue generation and feedback on prototype design. I couldn’t have got that quality of support without John’s recommendation.”
Would you recommend mentoring to other businesses?
“I already have! I can’t actually believe the service costs you nothing. No amount of consultancy fees could get you the same quality of support.”