Mentors sought for training scheme

Wholesale association is recruiting volunteers to support developing talent

THE Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) is on the lookout for new mentors from across the wholesale sector and the wider food and drinks industry to volunteer for its Mentoring Programme.
Set up five years ago, the programme aims to improve workers’ skills and nurture emerging talent within Scotland’s wholesale industry.

• Kevin Ward of Carlsberg said mentoring “allowed me the opportunity to pay back the time”.

Several individuals working for SWA member wholesalers in the key areas of buying, sales and management are said to be currently waiting to be matched to a suitable mentor to help further develop and enhance their skills.
Individuals paired with a mentor, who could be from within or outside the wholesale industry, are said to benefit greatly and, from an employer’s perspective, while each mentorship is structured around the needs of the employee, it is also in line with that particular business’s requirements.

Sandie Holmes, managing consultant at 121 HR Solutions, the SWA’s training partner, is currently heading up the programme.

She said the team has “been delighted to have benefited from the input of several inspiring men and women who have worked with our mentees” since the programme’s inception.

Mentoring has allowed me the opportunity to pay back the time and investment given to me.

Holmes added that, as a result of the programme, most mentees had become “more confident, more focused on making decisions and more willing to take on board new ideas”.

“Sitting down with a mentor from outside their own business has helped many of our mentees challenge themselves by focusing their minds on how to do their job and how they could do it better,” she said.
And Holmes argued that it can be a beneficial experience for both parties.

She said: “We are looking for mentors who are committed to helping others and people who appreciate that asking for help or advice isn’t a weakness – it is, in fact, a strength.
“Some of our industry’s most successful businessmen and women have been mentored at some point in their lives and we all want an insight into how they got to where they are.”

One such mentor is Kevin Ward, business unit director at Carlsberg UK, who said he has had a mentor of his own “all my professional life”.
“Mentoring has allowed me the opportunity to pay back the time, energy and investment afforded to me from those who saw in me something more than I could see myself,” said Ward.

“While I will never fully repay the debt, I have been rewarded with supporting others in realising more of their ambition, releasing their potential and, more importantly, building the leaders for the future.”

The Mentoring Programme for each mentee runs for a year – but the SWA claims that many mentee-mentor pairings have worked together beyond the 12 months.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can contact Holmes at