Pastie Maker finds the missing ingredient for success

Gavin's Mentee Azeem Amir’s charity Learn with ESS delivering a session at Carr’s Pasties

The Executive Development and Mentoring programme, from GC Business Growth Hub has provided fantastic support to SME businesses to learn from more experienced professionals; accelerating personal and business development. Through helping people make better strategic decisions, it’s enabled them to be more productive and ultimately grow their business.

This highly successful and innovative leadership and mentoring programme matches SME leaders with an experienced professional to help them through their challenges, helping them develop, change, and grow their business. The programme has recruited and engaged more than 700 mentors from SMEs and corporations and helped develop 1,100 senior business leaders.

Gavin Astley receiving an award for Operational Excellence, from John Hardwick, head of the Operational Excellence group that is part of the Manufacturers Alliance

Gavin Astley, Head of Operations at Carr’s Pasties is a veteran of the leadership and mentoring programme, having been a mentee and is now a mentor.

“I’m now happy to help give something back. I’m part of the mentoring programme, which is powered by iMentor, so I have a mentee who I mentor through his business journey. I think the learning carries on at that point. I think we’ve gained a lot through that as a company, and I think the mentoring programme itself is a fantastic thing.”

Dawn Duggan Head of People, Skills & Talent for GC Business Growth Hub, who oversees the mentoring programme and iMentor mentoring platform, said: “Mentoring should be a two-way relationship. Whilst a mentor might have skills and tons of experience, a mentee will have their own experiences too. Mentees can help refresh their ideas – it’s about coming together and working something out.

“Whilst some mentors tend to be more experienced in terms of years than the mentee it’s about the coming together and working something out. We call it reverse mentoring for that reason- each learn from their experiences, and both are made to think about things in a different way.” 

Being a mentor is something Gavin has got a lot out of: “Personally, I think I get more out of being a mentor than as a mentee,” he said.

Gavin admits that there was some concern at first but has been surprised at how easy the process has been. 

“The challenges [my mentee] is facing now are challenges I faced ten years ago. There is a huge amount of crossover, it doesn’t matter at all what industry you come from. The tools and techniques are the same.” 

GC Business Growth Hub’s mentoring programme has proven a great success with 2,500 mentoring relationships being established and a success match rate of 97%.

“It is crucial for mentee and mentor to set out right at start the rules and boundaries of the relationship,” explains Duggan, “how often you are going to meet, what are you going to talk about and what you are not going to talk about.

“That’s all part of what we do on the mentoring programme,” Duggan continues. “Which is why our success rate in matching mentors with mentees is so high. Each mentor brings experiences of their own and have volunteered their time to share their experiences with those with specific business challenges. Many times the strong relationships mentee and mentor develop continues beyond the term of the iMentor programme, testament to the effectiveness of the initial matching we do.” 

And in Gavin’s experience, this is the case, as he is still meeting his mentee regularly. “I met my mentee just yesterday and we arranged to meet again in three weeks. It is working so well it would be foolish for both of us to finish up right now. We will keep it going as long as we are both gaining some benefit from it. 

Azeem Azir (Gavin’s mentee) leading an EDI session at Carrs Pasties

GC Business Growth Hub has been providing support for SMEs in Greater Manchester for over 10 years, supporting businesses at all stages of their growth journey with our broad range of services. To find out more about their impact check out – Our Impact | GC Business Growth Hub 

GC Business Growth Hub was part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2014-2021, as part of a portfolio of ERDF-funded programmes designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. Working in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.