This year has proven to be a momentous one for our organisation.

The saddest moment was the death of ABM Director Malcolm Durham, who had serious health complications after contracting Covid in March 2020. Malcolm was one of the first members to step forward to support the organisation, and me specifically, after our founder Kerrie retired, and was a great force for good in helping shape the organisation we now have. His lasting memory lives on in the ABM and may he rest in peace.

Recovering from COVID-19 and the various lockdowns, it was with pleasure we announced the annual Conference to take place in March, only to have to postpone, at late notice, when speakers and myself contracted the virus at that same time. It was a serious disappointment for all those involved and for members who had arranged travel and time to join us. The good news is we have arranged for the conference to take place in London on March 23rd, please look out for more details in the New Year both in your email and on the website.

In April we learned that we had been successful in our bid to vet, train and support Business Mentors as part of a triparty consortium, with Newable and Enterprise Nation, on the Government’s flagship business support programme ‘Help to Grow’. Our involvement has been a major driver of growth for the ABM. As part of the programme, we have interviewed and trained over 1,100 volunteer Mentors to work with small businesses nationwide. These Mentors have been welcomed to the ABM and I have been delighted to see them beginning to engage with the organisation. We have also been delighted to offer 200 of these the opportunity to train for ILM qualifications in Business Mentoring.

One particularly exciting development is that our Help to Grow: Management Course Mentor Induction Training is in the final stages of being validated as an ILM Recognised Course with official certificate and digital badge. We are working towards welcoming many more Mentors to this induction training next year.

This initiative also led to recruiting our first full-time employees, Ben and Japhet, and over 40 ABM Members have now worked in the programme in one way or another. Through our work with BEIS, we have also been thrilled to see our relationship with Government go from strength to strength and are increasingly being called on as an authoritative voice in business support. This has given us the opportunity to champion Business Mentoring on a National level.

In the summer we were invited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) to sit on their strategic working party looking to better understand and define what Mentoring ‘is’ and I was pleased that ABM Members Tim Anderson and Nicki Deeson agreed to represent us on that group.

As part of the strategic plan to grow our association, in September I announced my intention to step down as Chief Executive but to remain as Chairman until such time a new CEO has imbedded themselves in the organisation. I am delighted to announce we have successfully appointed our former General Manager Georgina Waite as CEO, who will take up her post in April next year. Georgina brings a huge amount of experience of membership organisations, in particular trade bodies, and has a very valuable Wealth of experience in working with government and parliament and lobbying for good. I’m sure we will all welcome Georgina in her new role. The Board also took the decision to increase the number of Directors and we actively seek out suitable candidates from our current member pool.

In September and October, we witnessed the rather chaotic happenings of Government and the resulting effect of market instability, rising interest rates and rising inflation, leading to the Spending Review in November. All this had a detrimental ripple effect on our clients, small and medium sized businesses, and their owners. The need for Mentoring in business has never been so profound and I continue to work with Government to better understand what the UK business support landscape could and should look like in the coming years.

October saw the ABM celebrate National Mentoring Day at WeWork in Waterloo with our Help to Grow Consortium Partners when we launched our ‘Mentoring Matters’ report. I was able to speak to over 100 invited guests about the Power of Mentoring and present ABM Member and Founder of National Mentoring Day, Chelsey Baker, the ABM Fellow Award, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to furthering mentoring in the UK and the World. ABM friend and special guest speaker Lord Leigh of Hurley was able to close the event with a personal recollection of his own mentoring experiences at school, in employed roles, and then in his own business. My thanks go to the many ABM Members, supporters and guests who attended and the event.

In December we hosted the ABM Executive Team and Help to Grow Project Team members to a strategy review away day, where those present discussed ABM objectives for the coming year. We were hosted by office co-working space Newflex, at 22 Bishopsgate, London’s second tallest building, who we are looking to develop an exciting national partnership to benefit all members early in 2023.

Our efforts to engage better with you continued through the great work of ABM Members Jonathan Ratcliff and Gary King, who organise ABM webinars, Words of Wisdom with expert speakers, Mentor Motivation sessions and blog posts, my personal thanks to both. If you are an expert in any sector, field or specialism then please get in touch as we are always looking to both promote and showcase our members to other members. 

In 2023 we aim to continue reinforcing our position to Government and other support organisations as the UK’s voice of professional business mentoring, and we are creating both strategic and commercial partner frameworks for organisations that wish to work with the ABM in either or both forms. If you know of any ‘good fit’ opportunity we should explore, then please do get in touch.

The publicity we have received as a result of Help to Grow has led to several enquiries from organisations keen to work with us to help professionalise their Mentoring offers in both the commercial and third sector and we anticipate the gate of opportunity to continue throughout 2023 and 2024.

We continued to promote professionalism in our sector and I’m delighted that another eleven candidate members started their Level 7 in Executive Coaching and Mentoring (Business). Good luck to them as they continue their studies. If you are interested in receiving formal qualification and recognition at Level 5 or Level 7 please get in touch.

As you know we are a membership organisation, run by members for members, this last year I have been humbled by the number of members that have volunteered to support your association in its endeavours. I am extremely grateful to every member of the ABM HtG project team, support of the ABM Executive Team, Directors Gary King and Chris Dowling, our training partners Agile and the continued relationship with our Consortium colleagues at Enterprise Nation and Newable.

Ultimately, all membership organisations rely heavily on their members to ‘get involved’ in order to make things happen and the ABM is no different in that regard.  There will be several opportunities for you to help in various roles and teams as we grow and develop the organisation, so I urge you to seek them out and get involved as much as you can.

Thank you for all the hard work you do for the ABM and your clients' businesses, the UK needs Mentoring now more than ever and therefore it needs the ABM now more than ever!

Merry Christmas and here’s to a safe, healthy and successful 2023.

Simon Fordham

The Association of Business Mentors is registered in England and Wales under company number 7533326 at The Nest, 12-18 Sampson Street, London, E1W 1NA
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