Filshill, Booker and United Wholesale all benefiting from SWA’s mentoring scheme

The mentoring programme, launched by the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) under its new Mentoring Trust, is well under way with the first participants already benefiting from one-to-one sessions with their mentors.

Among the first batch of ‘mentees’ are Stuart Harrison, senior grocery buyer at JW Filshill; Paul Dickson, area manager, Booker; and Waqas Khwaja, system developer at United Wholesale (Scotland). The three have been meeting with their mentors on a regular basis and the initial feedback from everyone participating in the process has been extremely positive.

Stuart Harrison, who is being mentored by former ABInBev executive Scott MacDonald, says his confidence has grown and he has changed the way he approaches his job as a direct result of participating in the scheme. “I’ve now had seven sessions with Scott and I’m really surprised how much my confidence has grown in such a short time,” he commented.

Booker’s Paul Dickson, who is being mentored by wholesale industry stalwart and ex-SWA president Graham Benson, said: “The main change to my everyday working life is not so much in the actions I take but more in the way that I look at my business with a new perspective.

“This has given me the opportunity to make choices that I would not have seen before and has been a benefit as my mentor is aware of the specific challenges we face within the wholesale business and has the experience of successfully dealing with these.”

Another mentor is Christian Barden, head of sales at Cott Beverages. So far, he has spent five hours of face-to face time with his mentee, Waqas Khwaja, system developer at United Wholesale (Scotland), and says that he is “working with someone who really wants to develop”.

A new mentee – Atif Rashid of Glasgow-based Alfa Wholesale – will shortly embark on the programme, mentored by the Kinross-based retail expert, David Sands. A further three individuals have also been accepted onto the programme and will be matched with mentors in due course.

Kate Salmon, executive director of the SWA, said: “We’re delighted with the way in which our mentoring programme is progressing. It’s all about motivating and developing our industry’s emerging talent in the key areas of buying, sales development and management.

The SWA is keen to hear from wholesalers who would like an employee to be considered for the mentoring programme. Similarly, the trade association would be delighted to speak to prospective mentors.

For further information, contact Karen Peattie on 0141 773 1801/07947 075 937 or visit



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