Responsible businesses helping each other

Heart of the City | 21 November 2019 | News
Responsible businesses helping each other

“Everyone in the sector should do it. It’s a phenomenal opportunity!

At the beginning of 2019, we launched a new mentoring programme, inviting responsible business experts to support our members as they set up responsible business programmes in their small businesses . After some careful matchmaking we introduced 39 mentors and mentees. Almost one year on we caught up with one of our pairs to hear about their mentoring journey. Alastair Higginbottom, Employee Engagement Manager at has been mentoring Shail Phlora, Assistant Office Manager at Grunberg & Co, an accountancy firm

Working with the community

At their first meeting, Alastair and Shail look at why Grunberg & Co wants to develop its responsible business work. One of the biggest motivators is their recent office move to Collindale, north London: Grunberg & Co want to make sure they’re part of their new community.

Alastair’s expertise in volunteering and philanthropy, presents Shail with the perfect opportunity to focus on developing their community engagement. She sees an opportunity to build on Grunberg & Co’s previous work, replacing ad-hoc work experience offers with formal work experience placements and apprenticeships for people in the local community in Collindale.

Over 2019, Alastair and Shail  work towards launching Grunberg & Co’s responsible business programme with a community outreach day in October. Grunberg & Co invite students from nearby Stanmore College and other members of the community to learn more about accountancy through its work experience placements and apprenticeships. More of these workshops are planned for 2020 as part of Grunberg & Co’s commitment to making accountancy more diverse.

Over the year Alastair supports Shail with organising this launch and finding ways to engage both her colleagues at Grunberg & Co, and the local community. Alastair’s external communications skills prove to be really valuable for Shail in launching the new community programme.

Two industries meet

Shail and Alastair work in different industries: Grunberg & Co is a small accountancy firm and Salesforce is a global software company.  Alastair found it interesting to mentor somebody in a different industry and an unfamiliar working culture – it’s a new challenge for him!

Getting involved in responsible business activities wasn’t previously part of the culture at Grunberg & Co, so it’s been a new experience for Alistair to be involved in building something from scratch. For Shail it’s helpful to advice and guidance from a different perspective, and to compare what she’s doing with Alastair’s own current work and previous experience.

Mentors benefit too

Alastair signed up to be a mentor to share his skills and broaden his knowledge: working at Salesforce gives him a platform to see more of what’s going on in responsible business and he wanted to build on that. He wanted to see what challenges people have in creating responsible business programmes from scratch and use his Salesforce experience to help them.

Alastair has seen Shail develop her skills over the year and Shail feels that she has a lot more clarity and vision for responsible business at Grunberg & Co. Alastair has seen his own skills grow too, as he’s consolidated everything he’s learnt and started from zero with Shail.

He’s looking forward to doing it again next year: “everyone in the sector should do it. It’s a phenomenal opportunity!

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