The National Composites Centre was recently awarded funding from the BIS’ Sector Mentoring Challenge Fund

Published on: 10th March 2014

With the support of Composites UK, we are running a pilot to help support the growth of our sector by linking 10 Mentors and 10 Mentees to work with each other over a 12 month period beginning in April 2014.

Mentoring has been shown to be an effective way to help companies grow but it is something few SMEs consider, in part because most do not know how to go about finding a suitable mentor, particularly one who understands their sector. Four out of five SMEs say they want to grow, but only a third actually do. Firms receiving external advice are more likely to grow yet fewer than 50% of SMEs seek any support each year.

Whilst the attractions of such an arrangement to the Mentees are clear, it is not so immediately obvious why successful business people should become unpaid Mentors. In practice, Mentors often gain a real sense of satisfaction from helping another person address issues in which they have expertise. Mentoring is also a form of Continuing Professional Development, employers can use this as an example of Corporate and Social Responsibility and in addition, the National Composites Centre Champions Mentoring Programme will provide all Mentors with a fully-funded place on the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs’ certificated Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring Workshop.

The NCC Composite Champions Mentors are successful business people from the composites industry. All NCC Composite Champions Mentors will have undertaken the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs’ certificated Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring Workshop (funded by the NCC and taking place on Monday 17th March in Bristol) and, along with their experience, knowledge and expertise, will be able to help develop and guide Mentees into the world of composites. We hope some of you will consider becoming a Mentor which, apart from a one day training course and the initial meeting with the Mentees, could involve as little as 60 minutes a month of engagement by means of telephone, Skype or face-to-face meetings. This could be with a Mentee from a company that is already part of your supply chain.

As a pilot, we are proposing to focus initially on a small number of primary topics:

Health and Safety – Composites UK will support mentoring of pilot implementations of a composites sector Health and Safety Plan

Technical – includes process improvement, design, optimisation and simulation

Business Improvement & Innovation – includes signposting to support funding, collaboration opportunities and New Product Development

We are particularly looking for people who can contribute in these areas, however we are, of course, open to other areas of specialism for other topics. If you are interested in taking part in the programme as a Mentee and you are looking for a particular topic, please do let us know and we’ll do our best to match you with someone with that expertise.

As a Mentor, you will be expected to listen, encourage, share your experience, and give help, advice and guidance where appropriate. Mentors should be good communicators, excellent listeners, able to show a sympathetic approach to sensitive issues and maintain confidentiality. As a Mentor, you will be expected to undertake a day’s accredited mentoring training[1] on Monday 17th March 2014  (which confers free professional membership of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE)).

As a Mentee, you can expect encouragement, help, advice and guidance in your chosen domain. The programme will be tailored to suit you and where your Mentor cannot help you directly, you will be signposted to other sources of support (details of which we will provide).

A mentoring relationship could involve as little as 60 minutes a month of engagement by means of telephone, Skype or face-to-face meetings. The National Composites Centre Composite Champions Mentoring Programme aims to deliver tailored mentoring support that reaches and meets the needs of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Other key dates include:

Monday 17th March:       am – Introduction to Mentoring Enterprise Mentor Training

Thursday 20th March:      am – Mentee Briefing

                                      pm – Mentee/Mentor Matchmaking

Tuesday 25th March:       am/pm (TBC) – Technical Event

Monday 31st March:        all day – Health & Safety Event                                              

The programme will begin in April and run for a year.  For more information on the Mentor/Mentee role and for any questions, please contact