Holistic Week – Growing Talent…..

This is the ‘soft skills’ section of Growing Talent’s 12 week programme.  Usually carried out halfway through.  It’s a time for the Growing Talent Associates to meet up again and encourage each other face-to-face as well as learn some wellbeing techniques and ‘kick back’ a little from their usual work timetable!


We returned to Southwark Cathedral were we held the Orientation Week back in early February!  At least no more presentations before senior managers!

So what did we cover?:

Monday – parts 1 & s of Mental Health First Aid – a global course resulting in a qualification as a MHFAider.  This is an intense four part global programme so we lightened the learning a little with Lesley’s 3Rs!


Lesley, seen above, is part of the Health & Safety team at PwC.  Her 3Rs are Refuel, Recycle and  Refresh. It’s all about what to eat, how much sleep, exercise all the usual things we need to consider when making choices.  It’s especially difficult doing this on a strict budget!

‘I got a lot of information which I’ll put into practice!’ ‘Another important segment that allowed growth within the unknown.’

Tuesday – saw parts 3 and 4 of the MHFA programme be completed.  This time, Healthy Bites  Nutrition was sandwiched  between the two sections.  This invaluable workshop by Kate from HBN (www.hbnutrition.org) dispels myths around diets, the latest fads and new guidelines – such as only 7 tsp of sugar a day.  Kate shares the cost savings in making your own food, cost comparison and ingredients as well as how to eat quickly prepared nutritious meals on a budget!


Kate below preparing the Associates for making their own Pot Noodle!


A good workshop for sustaining health both in and out of work” ” I know what food groups are now!’


Sharing why recycling waste is so important was Dan from Suez, on the left below, on Wednesday.  This got everyone thinking.  A quick roundtable showed the difference between residential recycling across boroughs.  Indeed one of the Associates who has never recycled was inspired to go through her bins!



Thursday we talked finance.  Covering the basics we should know around debt, regular payments budgets, and so on. It’s surprising how well received this workshop is but on reflection maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising.  After all, where do you learn this stuff if you don’t have supportive, informed parents? Does the Education system have the time to do this?


‘The 3 x thirds will be really useful’, ‘I learnt about saving money and ISAs – really useful when we start earning’, ‘this was the most important topic covered for me’ ‘I learnt how to plan ahead’ ‘One million % worth it.  I understand now how to be financially stable.’

In the afternoon it was off to do an Art project!  Terrifying for some!  Their task was to visit Tate Gallery in Bankside and select an item that ‘spoke’ to them.  This could be in a good or bad way.


Left to right above inside the Tate are Mokhtar, Leon, Zainab, Ilamathy, Stefan, Ashley, Sebastien & John.


Friday morning we had a good discussion on their visit to the Tate, why they selected their piece of art and what they would ask the artist……… then they had to draw it!  You can see the results in the feature photo.  So much laughter in the room.  For some it ignited a childhood love of drawing for others it opened their eyes to a possible new creative way to feed their soul during lunchtime break and outside of work.


After some paperwork we finished up the week at lunchtime.They guys presented me with a lovely gift before going home for a well deserved break!


On Monday they returned to their employer sites:  Zainab, Ashley & Mokhtar – Harrow Green, Craig, John & Ashling – Iron Mountain – Ashling had to work this week, Leon – Pertemps, Ilamathy – Red Personnel, Stefan – Mitie Connect and Sebastien at Invest In Buy To Let.


Who teaches work ethics?

Yesterday, the Metro featured a disturbing piece on graduates leaving university without basic workplace ethics i.e. the soft skills essential for life long employment.

Basic skills such as teamwork, problem solving are missing along with the work ethic soft skills – timekeeping, attendance, communication etc.


A spokesman for higher education said schools should teach this.  Schools would probably say the reverse – it’s Uni or parents’ responsibilities.


So in all of this buck passing, who should and is equipped to teach this?


There isn’t a one size solution to this problem.  Many young people from diverse backgrounds aren’t aware of these soft skills whether from a dysfunctional or privileged background.  The fact is this simple area of employability skills can prevent someone getting a job, keeping it and growing it into a career.


I encountered a graduate who was outwardly very confident, with strong communication skills but no idea where flirting stopped and sexual harassment took over!  Her work in the role was excellent but her communication in the workplace makes the whole team feel uncomfortable.  What she doesn’t realise is a claim can come from anyone in the office or someone passing through it.


Another person had the importance of attendance and sickness explained to them and the consequences on the team, business and her prospects of securing the permanent job.  Having attended just half the days she should have due to sickness.   Silly reasons like having had a Friday off for a stomach bug, been fine over the weekend and then get another bug on the Monday doesn’t look great to the employer.  Now on her final chance – will she take on board the guidance given?  We wait to see……..


A key missing point is JobCentre Plus.  In general, everyone – graduate or not – will be a client of JobCentre Plus before going into work.  Maybe this would be the best area to focus on these essential soft employability skills?


Remember when hiring in the traditional recruitment way – you won’t usually have exposure to someone’s ‘soft skills’.  Maybe a trial period like http://www.growing-talent.co.uk would help?







New Addition at Red Personnel

A recent graduate, Ilamathy had little employment experience prior to Growing Talent.  Her personality and enthusiasm saw many employers want her to join them before she selected James and the team at Red Personnel.


A niche recruitment company, Red is based close to Baker Street.  A buzzing area with few major chains and lots of independent retailers/businesses.  The vibe is calm and serene – a bit like Red’s offices!


So, did it turn out to be the experience Ilamathy expected?  Was James happy and impressed ?


So many questions…..




James explained how well Ilamathy had got to grips with the basics of recruitment.  She’s already uploading jobs, calling clients, sourcing cvs for the consultants, mentoring candidates as well as managing Twitter!


This was the first time an employer had selected a participant from Growing Talent without actually being there!!!  James was on holiday at the time so his Director – Jamie – convinced Ilamathy the role at Red was the right one for her.


So how did they both feel about this ‘blind date’?  Great a perfect match.



l-r James, Vicky, Ryan, Ilamathy, Chetan & Vanessa


‘I’m so happy’  Check back to see how well Ilamathy gets on over the coming weeks…..

It’s a glamorous world………

for Stefan….. so far


On Growing Talent, Stefan is working with Mitie Connect at one of their global skincare clients in Fitzrovia, Stefan is exposed to the high-end world of leading brand products – including those new to the marketplace.  Of course this makes him a firm favourite amongst his female circle!


Surrounded by boutique shops ‘ including the niche Pollocks Toy Museum below – the local area is buzzing with business.



The mechanics of the role with Mitie Connect of Mailroom/Logistics Team  delivers variety – customer integration, problem solving, tracking, packing, despatching, as well as costs and recharges.  All of which suits Stefan.  The potential opportunities being based on this global entity’s site are endless!


A small team headed by Wayne, includes Jack and Leon with some support from temps and contractor implants.


As you can see below, Stefan on the left looks like ‘an old hand’….



Wayne, centre above has a lot of industry knowledge and is a ‘great mentor’ said Stefan.

Discussing how it’s gone so far below – both Wayne and Stefan agreed – so far so good!



Wayne is keen to learn the rest of the role, get working so he can save for some holidays abroad to add to the vast amount of countries he’s already visited.  Maybe he can add to his five languages as well!


Watch this space to see how Stefan gets on over the coming weeks.

Building an empire…..

It was clear on the Orientation Week that Leon was a leader and doer.


Owning a production company he has a passion for music and writing.  He shared a song with the other Growing Talent Associates that he’d written for his young son Matthew.  A beautiful tribute set to rap.  It worked really well…..


For his Social Enterprise challenge he used his media experience to devise a unique experience for your people in danger of or already experiencing some kind of addiction to understand their triggers, share their experience with others and get help appropriate to them,  A by product was the support family and friends would get from watching this journey unfold.


Kids Today involved filming a small group of young people over 12 weeks to give invaluable learning for teachers and parents who could watch the film on YouTube at their leisure and understand what works and what doesn’t.


Joining Pertemps as a junior recruitment consultant on Monday 6 February, Leon had arranged his first client meeting yesterday – 9 Feb!


Starting to build his recruitment business empire already……..!

Growing Talent 12 Begins!

After the preliminary screening sessions by JobCentre Plus, charities and myself we were ready for the Employers’ Speed Dating sessions held at Southwark Cathedral’s Gary Weston Library on 24 January 2017.


We call it speed dating because there are no cvs nor job descriptions.  The selection is based on personalities alone!  A unique way to recruit.


Employers had a table each and small groups of applicants on 10 minute rotation to decided who they wanted to see for the final selection stage.


(l-r – Scott, James & Lois from Mitie Connect)

Scott and James were new to Growing Talent.  Despite not knowing what it was all about properly – they embraced the change and identified Stefan who joins the team on a global cosmetic account.



Frances & Dan above are used to Growing Talent having recruited several members of staff on previous programmes.  Here they are chatting with Ilamathy.  Working for a global hotel brand – it’s not always easy identifying the ideal candidate(s).  Growing Talent allows confidence in all hires for all parties.



Selvan and Shane of Invest in Buy to Let have several companies between them.  On this occasion, they were seeking a personality to fill a marketing role.



Jamie & Adam of Pertemps are huge supporters of Growing Talent not only filling their own consultant vacancies but trying to support those who don’t get selected for a place.


Ebb and Christina her colleague from Holiday Inn Bradford Lock were joined by newcomer Gemma of Crown Plaza hotel in Canary Wharf. Ebb is a cheerleader of Growing Talent having recruited from the programme previously.  She also appears in the latest film with Michel Burke – check out the Case Studies tab at http://www.growing-talent.co.uk



A welcome return to Iron Mountain who have just undergone a global takeover which meant they were away from Growing Talent’s last few programmes.  Above are Steph, Russ & Michelle speaking with one of their three recruits on Growing Talent – John!


Finally – the Growing Talent Associates below were selected…….

John, Ashling & Craig join Iron Mountain

Mokhtar, Zainab & Ashley – join Harrow Green

Sebastien – joins Invest In Buy to Let

Leon – joins Pertemps

Ilamathy – joins Red Personnel

Stefan – joins Mitie Connect



Check back to see how the fabulous 10 get on………







Theresa May & Mental Health

An encouraging interview with Sophie Ridge of Sky News and the PM was aired yesterday morning.


Initially, I felt a bit unenthused at the start of the interview.  Sophie seemed fixated on the single market.  She asked three times about if we were leaving the single market in favour of securing our borders.


This illustrated to me the blinkered, reporting some journalists fixate on to get ‘the story’.  Three times Theresa May explained there is no opportunity to stay in the single market as we’ve voted to leave.  The negotiations will bring a different relationship. Still Sophie persisted before moving on to other topics.


This is where my interest was renewed.


The PM is highlighting mental health resources especially for children – which is fantastic news.  She recognises the biggest issue is stigma.  If people felt able to talk about their issues there is proven evidence they don’t deteriorate and get help quickly.


The PM is making a speech 9.1.17 – it will be interesting to see what she says on this.


Mental Health is  core component of Growing Talent.  We strongly believe in training participants as First Aiders.  Indeed everyone on Growing Talent complete the two-day standard global course.  There are many reasons for this – a key one is to remove the stigma associated with Mental Health.  I’m glad the Government is finally catching up!


Let’s get talking!



Google – An inconvenient truth?

As a fairly new micro business – total complement of one! – I do not know enough about the corporate world of tax efficiency/avoidance depending on which view you take to make a right/wrong judgement call.


What is clear every time I do my VAT Returns or my Annual Return and get the respective bills I would like to pay as little tax as possible!  Who wouldn’t?


I don’t take the view ‘if I’m paying this huge amount (relative to my business) – every business should’.  Part of my business is working in the world of getting unemployed people from all backgrounds to raise their self-esteem and be equipped to go into permanent, sustainable work.  I see all the time the positive impact employment makes on them, their families and their communities.


Organisations like Google might do what we all would like and pay as little tax as possible but they are a considerable employer in the UK.  They are building new offices here which has the domino effect of a positive impact on local businesses as well. Local people will secure jobs.  The outsourced companies Google contract will hire more people.  What is the value to UK plc of this?


Whilst the headlines are full of France’s push to secure 130bn Euros – how much will they actually secure and at what cost to France’s job market and business economy?


Instead of knee jerking at the media headlines, maybe some reflective thought before making judgements is needed?



Growing Talent 8 – New Beginnings for 19

Monday 8 February saw 19 strangers from all backgrounds walk into Holborn Bars – a management conference and training centre in London not knowing what to expect.  All a little nervous.  Some a little sceptical.


Friday 12 February saw 19 trusted friends walk out of the same building.  So what happened inbetween to deliver this growth in confidence, self-esteem and trust? – The Orientation Week of Growing Talent.


After multiple stages of selection, the Associates as they are known, undergo a week long series of workshops, tasks, challenges and presentations to build their confidence and give them the tools to succeed in the employer vacancy they have been selected for.

Lesley Davies 3 rs

During this week, Lesley above – Head of Health & Safety for PwC – delivered her interactive workshop on the 3Rs – Refresh, Rejuvinate & Renewal!  This gives information and top tips on staying healthy at work.  Knowledge on how many ingredients are in a Starbucks Blueberry Muffin (48!) to how many calories are in a specialty coffee.  Combined, you would consume half your daily advised calories consumption – scary right?  Lesley then gave some top tips on sleeping – did you know repeating the word ‘the’ over and over relaxes the brain so much you quickly fall asleep when before you couldn’t!


Ben circulating

Ben delivered his bespoke ‘Give Yourself The Edge Presentation’ focusing on personal image, body language and communication.  Ben is Head of Client Services at PwC and has a wealth of top tips from his international hospitality career to share.


Bens practicalJPG

Laughs soon started when Ben gave a verbal instruction whilst his visible demonstration was different.  Amazing how many were caught out copying what the eye saw rather than what the ear heard!


Ben’s blindfold test brought home how important body language is even when it can’t be seen – eg speaking over the telephone……

Blindfolds hav it

The Associates also had a confidential hour roundtable chat with Rehana, Jacq & Kieran – seen in the centre below – some Growing Talent Graduates who know exactly what they are going through.

Group Jacq Rehana and Kieran

Throughout the week, we worked on communication, conflict management, taking unexpected feedback – all the situations that can arise at work.  A theme throughout the week was to devise and deliver a Social Enterprise idea to a panel of judges comprising senior management from the employer companies.



l-r above, Josh, Krupita, Chris & Jamie delivered Spray Your Way a unique way to bring graffiti artists to the mainstream and art to the masses.


l-r Julie, Dan, Sadeeq & Joe presented Silver Care a way to bring the older and younger generations together and learn from each other.

Tina, Jack & Richard below presented Circle of Life and excellent IT idea where young people teach older people useful things like Skype.  In return the older people share live skills and mentoring for the young.





Helping Hands from (l-r) Rebecca, Rosa, Ruby & Nathan had two parts to their idea. The first as a homeless outreach facility whereby an adapted vehicle would park in hotsports for homeless people to get showered and clean clothes as well as signposting to support services if they wanted.  The second part was an annual fundraising event.  A community fair where the homeless would mix with the community enabling each to get to know the other.



Tom, Mick & Charlene comprised Hairline a unique idea to provide bespoke wigs to cancer suffers to ‘give them their life back for as long as they have it’.  The revenue stream would come from makeovers for family, friends and nursing staff.  They provide support to the patient- but who supports them?


The final presentation came from Chris below


Unconditional Love came from his own personal experience and focussed on the need for specialist support for children/young people who lose someone close to them.  His idea included a website, app and 1-2-1 mentoring scheme.


The judges spent an agonising time trying to select one winning idea.  In the end Silver Care was selected.  Below l-r, Allen from PwC as Head Judge presented  the cash prize to Joe, Dan, Sadeeq & Julie who each received £10.


Winners Julie Sadeeq Dan and Joe

The judges then shared their career journey and joined the Associates for a buffet lunch.





The seated judges above l-r are Michelle – Portico, Chloe – Iron Mountain, Sharon – wsh, Shane – Invest In Buy To Let, Julie – Portico, Allen – Pwc, Michelle – BASE, Sharon – Harrow Green & Nigel – JobCentre Plus.  All were amazed not only in the growth of the Associates over the week but also their ability to devise an idea and present it confidently with no notes!


No wonder the Associates left as confident friends!  Watch this space and http://www.growing-talent.co.uk and @Growing_Talent for news on how they progress over the next 10 weeks……………

Growing Talent – Keeps Growing!

A New Year sees the start of a new Growing Talent programme.  Now on the 8th programme having secured over 60 people into permanent full-time jobs!


So far 23 jobs have been pledged by various corporate employers and partners.  Wide ranging roles from Recruitment Consultants, to Receptionists, Administration Clerk, Security Vetting Supervisor, Industrial Cleaning Technicians, Hospitality/Food Services Assistant, Business Moves Porters, Mini Bus Drivers and Forklift Truck Drivers to name a few.  With a salaries ranging up to £25Kpa.


Looking forward to the personal growth stories that will follow……………..


If you know anyone who could do with some mentoring into a permanent job – direct them to http://www.growing-talent.co.uk………………..