By Kendelle Wray, SBT Investment Manager on secondment from EY 

"Why do I volunteer?"

Simon asks this to himself as he reflects back upon the question put to him.

"It’s personally rewarding," he says after a brief pause. "It’s helping people see that you just need to tackle things one by one and break them down into bite-sized pieces, rather than being overwhelmed."

Before becoming a volunteer mentor with Social Business Trust, Simon had been lending his time and experience to many causes. He coached water polo at his old school and, while he admits to not being the best cook, he would prepare meals at a food kitchen. But it wasn’t until he attended a joint SBT and Permira Foundation event that he realised how useful his professional skills could be.  

Day to day, Simon is a senior director with Permira’s investor relations team, working globally to bring new investors on board. His job requires the ability to build and nurture strong professional relationships with people from a range of backgrounds. He talks about the importance of listening, and how it's crucial to show investors and potential investors how he and his team can offer tailored solutions.  

It’s these skills that Simon brings to his work as a mentor with Social Business Trust. In his modest way, he recognises the breadth of experience and skills he brings as a mentor. Moreover, he is committed to sharing his experiences with those he mentors in order to help see them grow and fulfil their potential. As the jargon goes, he is aware of the impact that good mentoring can have.  

So far, Simon has mentored three people, from The Brilliant Club, HILS and Catch-22, through SBT’s mentoring programme. The programme connects employees from our corporate partners with individuals from our portfolio of social enterprises.  

SBT offers mentoring expertise in a range of areas including career progression and networking, right through to confidence building and technical skills such as project management and best practice in finance.  

And though each person Simon worked with sought mentoring for a different reason, the common thread was a need for an external sounding board. This created room for various issues to be worked through in an impartial setting. Ultimately, the sessions led to the mentee building more confidence as they became better decision makers. And, indeed, it helped them grow in their roles.  

Simon describes his approach to mentoring as one of "showing and not telling". He does this by actively listening and then asking follow up questions to draw out possible solutions that are devised by the person themself. He may also mention an experience of his that might be similar or might relate, and then ask another question to get the focus back on the mentee and how to resolve any issues. This allows the person being mentored to join the dots themselves while also broadening the views of the mentor by seeing new ways to solve problems. 

Before we finish our conversation, Simon takes a moment before adding, “Perhaps my other piece of advice comes back to what my grandpa would say to me, "PMA, Simon, PMA – a positive mental attitude can solve anything.” 

And for others considering volunteering, Simon says: "If you don’t try, you’re not going to know. There’s something you’re going to be able to give, and you will be able to help. No one is so busy that they can’t give an hour of their day and those that have been involved have wanted nothing more than to get even more involved."

If you work at Permira, or any of SBT’s corporate partners, and are interested in putting your skills and expertise to good use in support of a social enterprise, contract us at [email protected]