In writing this message to all our Members, as all great mentors and coaches do, I reflect on the work that we have accomplished this year. However, before I even picked up my pen, I find myself reading through last year’s message.
There is so much in it that I could copy and paste, not because we haven’t achieved some great things, but that, in the world of business, 2021 has been almost a repeat of 2020! The feeling of déjà vu has never been more prevalent, than at this very moment, as we enter the festive and New Year period. Once again, we are facing the prospect of ‘working from home’, reducing social interaction and contact, and perhaps even a lockdown as some of our European neighbours have this week.
However, we still have so much to be grateful for, after all West Ham United are fifth in the Premiership of the EFL, who’d have predicted that two years ago? (In an effort to not upset my fellow ABM Directors I won’t mention Leeds or Brighton and Hove Albion).
Other things to celebrate and be grateful for, but this time ABM centric, is the influence we continue to have in Central Government in all matters mentoring. The ABM is now contacted on many Government initiatives to ask our opinion and to help direct strategy. We were influential in the mentoring aspect of the Governments’ new £290m business support programme and worked, albeit light touch, with the Chartered Association of Business Schools to help author the mentor application and have ourselves named as one if the professional bodies mentors could/should be a member of to be considered. We campaigned heavily and most successfully on your behalf to insist that mentors should be paid for their valuable time, and we continue to do this for Years two and three of the HtG programme. This strategy continues to attract new members as we have now had enquiries from Brunel, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Kent Business Schools to help with HtG. There are another 28 still out there, so if you are engaged with your local University Business School please have that conversation with them or pass their details to ABM Director Chris Dowling.
ABM Director Malcolm Durham, who many of you know as being a valued member of the ABM team, fell ill to COVID-19 early in 2020 and due to serious health complications had to resign his position this year. Malcolm helped to create the new ABM team and Exec Team structure in 2019 and I thank him personally for his service and wish him health and happiness for the future.
The first cohort undertaking the ILM Level 7 in Senior and Executive Coaching and Mentoring (Business) commenced in November 2020 and by now should know whether they have been successful in ‘graduating’ in this Masters equivalent programme. The second cohort commenced in November 2021 and I sincerely hope that all those taking part find it as transformational as I did. Good luck to them all. I’d like to thank the initial ‘pilot’ members and the Training organisation for helping to author and adapt the course material to more accurately represent and support the unique ethos of ‘Business Mentoring’. Every single cohort member went the extra mile to ensure we have developed a truly amazing concept that may be adopted throughout the UK. My special thanks to ABM Member David Wood ably assisted by Christine Nicholson, in devoting so much of their own time to help make this happen. Cohort three will commence in March 2022, so please make sure you put yourself forward, the cohort list is now open! To create a more sustainable and financially viable Organisation the ABM is able to licence these qualifications as they are now unique to Business Mentoring and us.
In creating both the L5 and L7, it enabled the cohort to also review a new application process to go live in April 2022 and a career pathway for both aspiring and experienced business mentors,
introducing qualifications, formal accreditation and a mandatory 20 hours of CPD in keeping with other professional bodies. The new application process will include a written case study with a professional interview as opposed to taking references from mentees. As part of the career pathway, we are also introducing mandatory Supervision sessions for those that have attained L7 and wish to elevate themselves to Master Practitioner. This is still under review and will be published in the new year.
With this in place we approached the internationally recognised European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and discussed our commitment to professionalising our sector. The EMCC embraced our work and, in acknowledgment, are now discussing with us how we may be an assessment centre for ABM members that wish to also have EMCC membership. As a result of this now close collaborative partnership with them, we were invited to be a co-signatory to the new Global Code of Ethics for Mentoring and Coaching which we agreed. My thanks go to ABM Member Martin Robertson for representing the ABM in the negotiations around the content of that Global Contract.
As part of our application review, we also created several new membership levels to reflect the ‘seniority’ of those mentors that have achieved or that will achieve L5 and or L7. We have also created ‘Fellow’ status that will recognise those people “who have shown outstanding commitment to furthering the profession of Business Mentoring & Coaching for and on behalf of the industry and or the ABM”. To support those ABM members that retire but wish to remain part of our valuable network and community, we have created “Retiree Membership”. As our reach extends beyond individuals and with the need to recognise ‘excellence’ in mentoring programmes in the business support world, we have also created ‘Organisational Membership’ for Charities, Education Establishments, Funded and Non-Funded Bodies and Commercial businesses. In recognition of outstanding achievement in this area we have also created the ABM Quality Mark. These organisations may apply for a be assessed against set criteria. We are currently negotiating with five organisations that are considering such membership, if you know of any body that would be suitable and interested, please inform the ABM Directors.
To communicate the above to prospective members we have created an ABM information booklet that is available in PDR here and will soon be available in our website.
One of the main priorities is to grow the membership therefore please reach out to aspiring and or experienced business mentors in your networks and introduce them to the ABM, that’s a great way to grow our organisation in both numbers and reach.
With no opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the ABM formally with a national Conference in 2021 we plan to hold a hybrid (virtual and in-person) Conference in London on the 31st March 2022. Tickets for this will go on sale early in the New Year so please ensure you check out the website and read your emails, to take advantage of the early bird offer. For the first time the ABM Directors and Executive Team will hold an AGM that all members are invited to, to precede the Conference. There will also be a formal dinner post conference to celebrate our achievements over the last two years. It is our intention to launch the ABM Awards Programme to celebrate the amazing work our members do and the contribution you all make to support UK businesses and their owners.
After a period of negotiation with the Institute of Directors the ABM successfully entered into a three-year collaborative working arrangement to be their preferred Mentoring Partner and we continue to work with them to market the ABM offer to their 20,000 UK members. More recently, we have also entered into talks with them as to how the ABM may work more closely with them to offer added value to their members and ours.
Our partnership programme goes from strength to strength, thanks to ABM Director Chris Dowling. We have partners that promote ABM and its members to their members who are looking for mentors including CLA, WBC and the IoD, and we have commercial partners that support all our members by offering partner discounts, special offers and others that provide business services such as funding, finance, legal, insurance, documents and more. While these aren’t core services of the ABM we recognise that all add great value to the benefits of membership so we will continue to consider those organizations that reach out to us.
Delenta, one of our partners, is currently reviewing how they may supply ABM and our members with a dedicated platform where the members portal is much more intuitive and supports the development of your business as a mentor and coach. This will also record CPD, events attended, logs for mentoring, reflection forms, client contact, supervision and more. We are hoping to go live in April 2022.
Our events programme continues to grow. In 2021 we had our busiest programme yet, with an incredible 49 webinars, words of wisdom or member virtual and face to face interactions and over 70 communications, emails, member ‘Inspiration’ blogs and other initiatives. We take great pride in showcasing you our members and will continue this into 2022. My thanks to ABM member Jonathan Ratcliff for the extraordinary effort co-ordinating this on-going work.
As ABM Director Chris Dowling became more involved as Partnership Director, he handed over the reins for the South Region to ABM Member Siobhan Lavelle, we welcome Siobhan to the Executive Team. Regional webinars and meetings are for the most part poorly attended, possibly as a result of us all becoming busier post COVID-19, so in 2022 we will bring a new format to these meetings that will be announced at the next cycle in January 2022. Please do try to attend as these are really your opportunity to ask questions of the Directors and or members of the Exec Team, share challenges and here from your fellow members in your region. These meetings are for you so the more you get involved the more we can tailor them to your needs. Please come along in January to your regional meeting, now available on the ABM website for bookings, and help shape the future of these meetings.
ABM Member Christine Nicholson expertly facilitated a meeting of the Directors to re-visit our strategy for future growth of the organisation and this is now published in our new members booklet.
As part of our events programme, on the 27th October we were joined by one of the City of London’s modern Guilds; the Company of Entrepreneurs, when we celebrated National Mentoring Day. We also welcomed NMD Founder and ABM Member Chelsy Baker, and partners from University of Brunel and Wolverhampton and the IoD. This was truly a collaborative effort of many people including ABM Director Gary King, ABM Member and Freeman James Talbot and with thanks to ABM Member and Freeman Christine Nicholson for their sterling efforts in helping make the event so successful. Soon to be ABM Member Julie Creffield TV Personality, Author and successful Business
Mentor and coach provided a practical view as one of the panel members, my thanks go to her for the support she gave at that time.
November continues to see UK spirits lifted as lesser restrictions came into operation and the ABM took part in Europe’s biggest business show at the Excel in London. ABM Members Chris Dowling, Philippa Seal, Deborah Power, James Talbot and Ana Ambika Pindoria joined me over the two days as we spoke with business owners, mentors, potential partners and other exhibitors. It was suggested ours was one of the busiest over the two days and we are now following up over 20 lines of enquiry as a result of the great conversations we had.
The highlight of December was Gary’s webinar with successful hotelier and entrepreneur Tony Matharu extolling the virtues of mentoring entrepreneurs and what’s next for the hospitality sector and all that work in it. My thanks go to both Gary and Tony for their time and support.
Looking into next year ABM Regional Head Taruna Chauhan and James Talbot have volunteered to support the ABM in helping to arrange the March Conference and my thanks go to Exec Team Members David Eaton MBE and Kathy Ennis for their invaluable support. The Conference will be our time to shine once again in the presence of members, partners, business owners and Government.
Much of what we do, and I do in particular, is supported by our Head of Admin Gem, who without I would be lost, so a huge thank you to Gem for her time, effort and support.
As you would have read throughout this message the ABM is only as good as its member participation. We rely heavily on all our members to support, take part, get involved, turn up, contribute and much more to promote the ABM to others. If each member recommended one person once a year we would double in size every twelve months, so that is my ask of you… who do you know that would be suitable to join our community? Thank you to everyone of the names mentioned here and the many that I have probably missed!
The ABM is an organisation run by members, for its members and the more you participate the more you will benefit. I have made lifelong friends with other ABM members, and I urge you to do the same.
We have made huge gains over the last two years and with your help, will continue to do so. It now leaves me to say that I wish all members and their families a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, safe, busy and successful 2022.