Fairmont Residential, a small group of care homes for adults with autism, had little scope to develop in-house expertise and its IT infrastructure was stretched. But managing director Denise Baurmann gained far more than technology help through her mentoring relationship with Accenture’s Nick Rubega.
“When someone suggested I could get a mentor through Be the Business, I was very open to the idea. I saw the immediate and obvious benefits,” Fairmont Residential MD Denise Baurmann said.
Her immediate concern was to address the technology challenge in the company.
“We had a software programme that wasn’t working properly for us. We needed to work out why that was and what we thought we needed, then invest in a new system that best met our requirements,” Denise explained.
“We’re a small business and didn’t have anyone internally with IT expertise. Vendors were queueing up to sell us software packages. What we actually needed was advice on the best approach to take. We were struggling to work out how to move forward.”
Attending a technology workshop
Be the Business matched Denise with Nick Rubega, technology delivery lead at Accenture. Their first Zoom conversation, though essentially a scoping exercise, was extremely productive.
It led to Nick setting up a full-morning remote technology workshop for Fairmont’s management team, delivered by experts from Accenture. It was designed to identify the pain points with Fairmont’s existing technology system and determine the best way to tackle them.
“Nick worked very hard to make the right resource available to us – and getting that level of expertise, for a full morning and for free, was amazing. It has helped us find the best solution for our needs and saved us an enormous amount of time and potentially money,” Denise explained.
Learning how to have difficult conversations
But technology isn’t the only benefit Denise and her company have gained from talking to Nick. His background includes a leadership role in the army and Denise realised he may be able to help her on another front.
It’s difficult for her to find and retain excellent managers in care homes. As a result, she’s cautious about having “difficult” conversations in case she loses good people.
“Nick’s advice was excellent. He described the conversations I needed to have as ‘fierce conversations’ and sent a pack of slides to help me. I put those into practice immediately. The next time I was unhappy about the way someone had interacted or conducted themselves in a meeting, I gave them candid real-time feedback. People responded very well and I realised that a lot of my fears had been unfounded.”
Denise’s people management skills improved almost overnight, thanks to the mentorship.
“When I approached the conversations in a positive and confident manner, I found that people actually appreciated the feedback. I’m also now coaching some staff to manage external meetings more effectively. I feel confident that our managers are representing us externally in a far more professional manner.
“Nick was very generous with his time – each session lasted about 1.5 hours. In just two or three sessions, I got tangible help on two big issues that had been holding us back. It’s been really positive and very enjoyable.”
Giving back through mentoring
As for Nick, his army background means coaching and mentoring come naturally to him. He seized the opportunity to get involved with Mentoring for Growth.
“It’s about giving back, plus mentoring breaks up the day job. A core value of our business is ‘stewardship’, so helping other people in their careers is one way we can demonstrate that,” he said.
Looking for advice or business guidance? Learn more about the Mentoring for Growth programme.