Opportunities for ambitious wholesale workers on mentor scheme

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has opportunities for individuals currently working in buying, sales and management to participate in its mentoring programme.

Designed to improve skills and nurture emerging talent within the Scottish wholesale industry, the initiative matches individuals with an appropriate mentor inside or out of the wholesale industry. Mentees benefit from regular one-to-one sessions with their mentor plus unlimited telephone contact and, crucially for employers, the programme is structured around the needs of the business.

Sandie Holmes, principal consultant at 121 HR Solutions, the association’s training partner, is facilitating the programme. She says: “Since launching the programme in 2012 we’ve worked with 12 mentee participants who have benefited in many different ways – from becoming more confident generally in the way they do their job, to taking a different approach to their day-to-day business practices, and understanding the benefits of sharing knowledge and gaining insight from others.

“The thrust of the programme is to help focus on areas where individuals feel less confident, but also to encourage them to challenge themselves to think differently,” she said. “While a mentee’s line manager will usually be in a position to guide an individual towards a better outcome for the business it can be very useful to take a step back and a get a fresh perspective from someone outside your company.

“We are looking for prospective mentees to volunteer themselves for the programme but we would also like members to consider nominating employees they think would benefit from being mentored.”

The Mentoring Programme runs for a year but most mentee-mentor pairings have, by mutual agreement, worked together for longer with contact continuing after the formal relationship concludes.

Fiona Ritchie, impulse buyer at JW Filshill, the independent Glasgow-based wholesaler which supplies the KeyStore convenience chain, is a current mentee whose mentor is Clare Bocking, commercial director EMEA at McCormick & Company. She said: “It’s still early days for me but already I’m beginning to see the benefits,” she said.

“Winning Employee of the Year at Scottish Wholesale Achievers in February was a great confidence booster for me and being mentored by someone with the experience of Clare is helping me think differently about many aspects of my job and how I communicate with people.”

David Rowan, wholesale manager at Blantyre-based Dunns Food and Drinks, the independent delivered foodservice and drinks wholesaler and soft drinks manufacturer, has recently completed the programme, working with mentor Graham Benson, a former president of the SWA. He said: “There are lots of benefits but it has helped me become more focused on what is best for myself and the business in that I know where I am and where I want to be. More importantly, however, is that I have a plan on how to get there.

“My mentor has taught me to think more before I act and I am more confident when I present plans to both my colleagues and directors. I also think more about what impact my actions will have and plan on how to maximise them. Getting out of my comfort zone was another one of my challenges.”

Kate Salmon, executive director of the Scottish Wholesale Association, said: “One of the most exciting aspects of the programme is when those involved really embrace the ethos of what we’ve set out to achieve and appreciate that every relationship needs to be flexible – change can be difficult and some of our mentees have found the process initially quite challenging.

“However, it is those very individuals who are now the biggest supporters of the programme and recognise the benefits of listening to others and being open to adopting a different approach to a particular issue.”

If you are interested in being mentored or you wish to put forward a prospective mentee within your business, contact Kate Salmon on 0131 556 8753 or kate@scottishwholesale.co.uk.


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