The IOEE Lloyds Banking Group Covid-19 Response Mentoring programme was created to support small and micro businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis which has impacted many businesses across all sectors within the UK. In this article, we speak to Lloyds Banking Group mentor, Alick Jones, Regional Agricultural Manager for the North of England and Social Entrepreneur Inderjit Sahota who runs a social enterprise providing supported employment for migrants and refugees allowing them to rebuild their lives. We caught up with Alick and Inderjit to find out how their relationship is going so far…
Can you explain what made you decide to get involved in the programme?
A – Giving something back! I’ve been fortunate to gain a range of experience during my time with Lloyds Banking Group. Mentoring gives me the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to work with a business that is a complete contrast to the agricultural sector, hopefully bringing a different perspective to that business to help them solve challenges. It’s also giving me the opportunity to learn from the challenges being faced by the mentee business in these times, and understanding how they are turning these into opportunities.
I- It has been a challenging time, in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic we had to furlough all our cleaning staff and temporarily suspend our cleaning services. We were able to use this time to train our staff on Cross Contamination and Infection Control. Upskilling the staff has allowed us to develop our new service offer. We are now offering a Back to Work Covid-19 Deep Clean, which has helped us to diversify our services and attract new customers. The current situation has allowed me to spend time on the business and identify gaps in our team’s capabilities and capacity. I think synchronicity has played its part as I was looking for someone that was outside of the organisation who would bring experience and skills from the corporate business world and then I discovered this programme.
Tell us how you feel the relationship is progressing?
A – Very well – the first session was a good opportunity for me and Inderjit to understand each other, talk about our very different backgrounds and agree on how we could work together. For obvious reasons at the moment, our meetings are being held remotely. From my perspective, it’s so far so good!
I – I was feeling a bit apprehensive at the start but felt comfortable by the end of the meeting. I felt reassured that we could work together to grow the enterprise in these difficult times.. It’s early days but the mentoring sessions have helped me to look at different ways to grow the enterprise.
What have you gained from the experience so far?
A – I’m forming a good understanding of the particular opportunities (and challenges) facing a commercial business that is part of a wider charitable organisation, and the creativity that is needed to deliver both charitable and commercial results. It’s a good opportunity to step back from my “day job” for a few hours a month and understand the great work that businesses and (in this case) not for profit organisations are doing on the front line
I – The mentoring sessions have allowed me to have a safe and non- threatening space to challenge my thinking and decision- making processes. It has also confirmed to me what I am doing is ok. I would definitely recommend this programme to other business owners as you have the opportunity to learn, develop and grow your skills with an experienced and knowledgeable leader from the Corporate Business World. It helps you to do business differently!