Monthly Archives: March 2014

Member Spotlight – Elizabeth Toogood

Elizabeth ToogoodName: Elizabeth (“Liz”) Toogood
Profession: Your Critical Friend – Mentor and Coach

What’s your background?
My understanding of business came from working for my mum in her wine shop at the ripe old age of 12! She was a hard task master and taught me pretty much all I know, including the three main principles: 1. Learn your customers’ names and engage with them 2. Smile at everyone and make them feel welcome 3. Do your job and work hard.

My coaching and mentoring career started in my mid-twenties when, after graduating from university in Theology, I accepted a placement as a management trainee for a national freight organisation and had great fun operating the first UK hanging garment depot delivering nationwide. Three years in, I was running the trainee scheme and helping to develop like-minded individuals. I have been coaching ever since, both in my day job and now as owner of my own coaching and mentoring business. Continue reading

March Network – The Importance of Video for Business

Date: Thursday 20th March 2014
Venue: Basepoint, Luton

Guest post by Karen Chamberlain, KC Learning & Development

It was a pleasure to attend as a guest at last week’s BBW event at Basepoint’s Business Centre flagship site in Luton, attended by approximately 25 BBW members and guests.

I was excited and intrigued about the topic “The Importance of Video for your Business” run by Carys Dayne, Specky & Ginge Social Media Management and the lovely Jacqueline Jardine of Jardine-White Consulting.

Upon arrival at the impressive facilities and a warm welcome by the BBW ladies, I enjoyed some informal networking and a chance to catch up with faces old and new over a welcome coffee :o) Continue reading

Five ways for your company to achieve low carbon economic growth

Guest blog by Dr John French, CEO of the Adapt Low Carbon Group

Making a dent in your company’s carbon footprint is not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind when considering how to grow your business. Many company bosses struggle to see how the bottom line can benefit from a low carbon approach. But whatever sector you operate in and whatever your business does there are significant opportunities for economic growth in a low-carbon world.

At the Adapt Group’s Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) – a venture capital fund for businesses in the East of England – we can offer the following advice on how to achieve low carbon economic growth.

Become lean and efficient

Review your entire business and look to replace anything you currently do that wastes energy. Becoming energy efficient will reduce carbon emissions and lead to long-term cost savings.

Examples

  • A timber frame supplier looking for investment in their CAD/CAM capabilities to reduce wastage – getting more products out of your raw materials cuts down costs and transport/delivery costs and increases output for the same money spent
  • A film production company looking for investment in tools to track and improve resource usage and adopt new low carbon ways of working – reducing transport, reducing use of generators and lights, sourcing food locally, buying materials locally, using recyclable materials

Use innovative green technology

Boost your low carbon credentials and stand out from your competition by investing in new green technology. This can save you money in the long term. Is your equipment energy efficient? Can you generate your own energy? Can you use state of the art technology to be more efficient?

Examples

  • A software company wishing to invest in more energy efficient processing hardware that saves running costs and cuts carbon emissions
  • A company electing to use a data storage service that relies upon Green IT suites using clever energy saving servers for their data centres

Think re-usable, recyclable or recoverable

Using reconditioned or recycled raw materials smartly can reduce impacts from disposal in landfills. This approach may also save costs over virgin materials by reducing the need for carbon intensive processing and transport costs along the supply chain.

Examples

  • A company selling on a ‘waste product’ that has value as an alternative product or can be recycled. For example: –
    • A carpet fitter selling offcuts to be incorporated in modern building materials
    • A processor of vegetables selling washed-off grit and stones to a gardening business
    • A packaging company selling its waste paper materials to be used in innovative building insulation

Design smart

By removing inefficiencies in transport, material or energy use when designing a new service or product, you could make a huge difference to your company’s carbon footprint.

Examples

  • A bottle manufacturer redesigning the shape of its bottles in order to fit more in a crate and transport more bottles on the same lorry, thus cutting down on haulage.
  • A printing company improving its processes so that less paper and ink are wasted during the ‘setting up’ phase of a print job
  • A sweet producer investing in production equipment that boils the ingredients quicker whilst using less energy, thus reducing costs and improving outputs

Influence green behaviour

Consider whether your service or product could be designed/re-designed to prevent your customers wasting materials or energy. Getting to know your customer better in this way is not only good for relations, but may also offer further design innovations, as well as cost saving opportunities.

Examples

  • A magazine publisher requiring investment to develop a digital app that will reduce their printed output
  • A new fridge with intelligent sensors so the fridge sounds an alarm if the door is left open for too long

If you’d like to speak to someone about how you can integrate carbon saving that will benefit your business, get in touch via the Low Carbon Innovation Fund website.

Mentoring for Business Success

Business is tough and we all need to do something different to stand out from the competition. But what do we do and where can we go for advice? Many business people have turned to mentors for support, or have themselves become mentors, to offer their knowledge and skills for the greater good.

The slogan “Be Someone Who Matters To Someone Who Matters” was used for this year’s National Mentoring Month and is a brilliant quote to define what a ‘mentor’ actually is. It also shows that mentoring is a two-way street, with you as a person seeking a mentor to support you; and in return to also use your own skills and knowledge to mentor someone else.

 In large PLC companies, mentoring is standard practice. Each person is advised to seek out a mentor to guide them through their career within the organisation. If you work in a small company or are self-employed, this can be a far more daunting task. How do you actually go about finding a mentor? What key skills and attributes do you look for? How often should you meet and what will a mentor actually do for you? Do you need to pay them? These are just some of the questions asked but sadly it can be enough to scare a lot of people from pursuing a mentor.

Becoming a member of Bedfordshire BusinessWomen (BBW) can help you find a mentor or simply to receive advice and support via the monthly networking opportunities. BBW is a not-for-profit networking organisation that has been going for over 25 years and is specifically designed to provide a support network for women who live and / or work in Bedfordshire. There are monthly networking events, as well as online community forums, where these relationships can be formed in a nurturing environment. 

Bedfordshire BusinessWomen Awards 2013 Winner

 

 

 

 

 

A recent discussion posted via the BBW LinkedIn group highlighted the difference between coaching and mentoring; two disciplines often confused but clearly explained at http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/coaching-mentoring.aspx#link_0.

BBW member and owner of Elizabeth Toogood: Your Critical Friend explains that finding a mentor can be difficult; it is like any recruitment project – somewhere out there is the correct person but you will only recognise them if you have a clear idea of what you are seeking. Elizabeth’s advice is that “…chemistry is massively important. Be sure you like and trust this person to share with them your innermost thoughts and expose your mistakes without feeling they will judge you. It is as intimate as taking your clothes off! Do expect to pay; I know no expense is a good one, but this gives you some equality in the relationship. It respects the mentor and it also allows you to feel free to give them a call and say “help, now please!” Fees can vary hugely – make sure that you get value for money and are not locked into a relationship that you cannot free yourself from.”

Finding the right mentor is important as there needs to be a personal as well as business chemistry to ensure the success of the mentoring relationship. Having the right mentor will allow you to bounce ideas off someone, work through strategy with them, or simply obtain an outsider’s opinion.

Elizabeth concludes: “I would not be without my mentor to help me learn from and celebrate successes and unpick areas where I am less happy. We are always learning”.

Elizabeth Toogood

Elizabeth Toogood

 

Elizabeth Toogood Critical Friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great mentor will help take your career in the right direction. A great mentor will become a friend long after your career has progressed. A great mentor will help you grow, prosper and succeed.

If you want to take the next step in finding your own mentor, or maybe you would like to offer some of your time to mentor someone else, then why not join Bedfordshire BusinessWomen today?! Come along to our next event as a guest and meet the members – and find yourself a mentor.

For more information on upcoming events, to book as a guest or join, please visit: http://www.beds-businesswomen.org

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Member Spotlight – Tamsin Bromley Rahlke

Tamsin Bromley RahlkeName: Tamsin Bromley Rahlke

Profession: Wealth Management and Financial Planning

What’s your background?
Born in Lancashire, I grew up in Doncaster but my career began working as an Investment Analyst for a large investment management firm in the city, looking after pension funds for large corporations. After a number of years I decided to do an MBA at Cranfield University and the new skills and knowledge I gained led me to then work in a number of varied roles. These included working as a head hunter within the higher education sector, placing senior members in some of the most well-known universities around the UK, as well as fundraising for a children’s charity. My husband is German and having spent some time over there, we relocated back to the UK 9 years ago and I have now come full circle working in wealth management again and really enjoying what I do; helping people and their families build secure financial futures and making a difference to people’s lives. Continue reading