The Pawfect Mentoring Relationship

We are diving into the mentoring relationship between Anastasia Georgiou of Lloyds Bank and mentee Louise Nelson. Mentee Louise runs Yorkshire Paws a professional dog sitting, walking and transportation service based in Leeds, UK.

Anastasia has over 24 years experience in the wealth management & financial services domain working at renowned banks as well as private financial companies in Jersey, Switzerland and the UK. Anastasia returned to the UK 6 years ago after spending most of her working career outside of the UK in Jersey & Switzerland within offshore financial organisations. Currently working in the Client Assets Control Office for Lloyds Banking Group specifically within the Assurance Monitoring Team helping to ensure LBG is compliant with all regulations.

In 2014 Anastasia was initially introduced to enterprise mentoring through a colleague at Lloyds Banking Group and how being involved can help local businesses, as well developing personal skills, such as listening and looking at problems from different angles and viewpoints. Upon completing the IOEE Mentoring Qualification Anastasia worked with an IOEE Mentoring Manager to match her up with a mentee.

We asked Anastasia how throughout the mentoring relationship with Louise just how the mentee had grown both personally and professionally, Anastasia said “ When I first met Louise around 17 months ago she had not long set up her professional pet service business, after having previously worked at a boarding kennels within my local community. Louise is now more confident in her decision making such as when considering adapting things such as terms & conditions, pricing and even making difficult decisions such as refusing (for safety reasons) to continue to provide services where pet owners haven’t taken behaviour issues seriously enough.

Louise has also taken steps to ensure she is greater compensated outside of sociable hours, allowing her to spend more time with her young family or at least be better compensated where she is providing services outside of sociable times. I’ve seen Louise’s reliance grow as she is now more able to bounce back from challenging times.

When working with Louise, Anastasia tends to meet up somewhere neutral such as a coffee shop, as it’s a comfort environment for both and it often helps to be outside of a normal work environment. Anastasia’s approach is listen & determine through questioning what the mentee is most concerned about where they feel the most would gained from the mentoring relationship, this helps to determine expectations.

In this case a trusting relationship was easy to established due to a common ground in their love of dogs. They then worked together to set actions which will help tackle those concern and in most cases this generally leads to more actions as the relationship grows.

In the few years Anastasia has been mentoring she has discovered common themes, which provide the most value to the entrepreneurs, as a mentor Anatasia needs to be ready to:

  • Act as a sounding board
  • Be there as support for ideas and critical reflection
  • Provide challenge in a safe and supportive way
  • Be a safe environment to try out ideas

Anastasia comments that “Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, stressful place, so being in a position to provide support gives me a sense of fulfillment by giving back to the my community, and at the same time, I continue to work on my own skills such as listening not to mention learning about different types of businesses.”

As the mentoring programme drew to a close we asked Louise what she had taken from the mentoring programme & how mentoring has assisting in building & supporting Louise’s business.

Louise said: “I have learned how to communicate with clients more professionally, I have also learned how to separate my personal emotions with work commitments as I felt like at times I was too emotionally attached to animals.

Anastasia has supported myself and my business in many ways, most notably in communication as I tend to flap when I’m unsure how to approach clients if there are minor issues (for example, late payments or last-minute cancellations). I have confidence issues and due to my dyslexia, Anastasia helped a lot by showing me examples or ways to approach clients in the most professional manner.”

Once a mentoring programme has come to a close, this is a critical time for the mentee in ensuring they have a set plan moving forward and are able to rely on their knowledge developed with their mentor to progress their business into the future. We asked Louise what the plans for Yorkshire Paws was moving forward and Louise had this to say: “To ensure my timetable is full and to continuously advertise for new clients (even ad-hock for future dates), I would like to employ someone in the future which would potentially expand my business by enabling me to take on more clients.