Executive Partnerships: A case study

 In Community, News

ELBA’s Executive Partnerships Programme pairs senior staff members at east London based community organisations with employees from our member companies for a 1-2-1 coaching/mentoring relationship. These relationships support community leaders to overcome challenges and to develop in their roles. The coaches/mentors usually find that they learn a great deal from the relationships too!

Executive Partnerships can create incredible outcomes for those involved. Rob Horton’s partnership with Adam Vaites is a fantastic example of what can be achieved. Rob is the Business Development Manager of the amazing Newham based charity, Ascension Eagles Cheerleaders. Adam is a Senior Business Development Manager at Royal London.

Just over a year ago, ELBA’s Connect Team were contacted by Rob with a request for a coach or mentor. Rob had recently been given the role of Business Development Manager at Ascension Eagles Cheerleaders. The key problem was that he had very little business development experience. Armed with a comprehensive knowledge of cheerleading, an infectious passion for supporting young people and natural talent for building relationships, Rob was determined to succeed in his new role. He just needed a little guidance.

ELBA’s Connect Team were excited about the possibility of finding support for Rob and so advertised the opportunity to mentor him via ELBA’s monthly Hot Opps documents. That advertisement was picked up by one of Royal London’s Social Responsibility Champions (a prolific volunteer herself), who forwarded it to Adam Vaites. Adam responded immediately, demonstrating a real enthusiasm for the opportunity to support Rob. On the 4th October 2017 Adam and Rob met for the first time. They hit it off immediately and an incredibly fruitful partnership was born.

Over the past year they have worked together on a number of projects which have really helped to enhance AEC’s Business Development capacity. We caught up with Rob and Adam to find out about their journey:

Rob Horton of Ascension Eagles Cheerleaders

Hi Rob, tell us about AEC and your current role there?
The Ascension Eagles (AEC) is a charity that for 23 years has worked with young people in Newham. Although cheerleading is the medium by which we interact with youths, our impact is so much more than just physical exertion. we encourage the development of teamwork and leadership skills, as well as positive value and self-esteem. At the Ascension Eagles, my primary role is Business Development Manager. However, being that we are a small charity, I also fulfil a number of other roles: including lead tumble (gymnastics) coach, website administrator, and mentor.

Why did you approach ELBA for support and what were you hoping to gain?
I’ve been involved with the Ascension Eagles for 16 years, joining as an athlete when I was 16. When the opportunity to join the staff full-time arose, I couldn’t turn it down. Previously I had been an English teacher; although this was helpful in terms of writing grant applications, it also meant that I was learning other aspects of my role ‘on the job.’ When I approached ELBA for support I was hoping to be paired with someone who could help me organise and prioritise my responsibilities to increase opportunities for success.

What have you gained from your time working with Adam?
Adam has helped me find greater clarity in the way I do my job. In achieving a greater sense of organisation, it has allowed me to cope much better with the workload, as well as balancing the other roles I do. This was a cause of a lot of stress, so it has really helped my output, but also my sense of well-being.

What have been the highlights of working with Adam. Do you have any stories or successes that you would like to share?
Adam and I were looking at ways we could maximise income for Talent Central (the gym where AEC are based) without creating more of a workload. We discussed how we could do this through the AEC website. From there, I set up a subscribe button that meant any time I wanted to advertise something I could send out a generic advertisement and those who wanted to attend replied with the appropriate information. This made recording who was attending easier and less time consuming too because all information came to the same place and was easier to store- which meant I had more time to focus my energies elsewhere, like fundraising! which is also improving.

Would you recommend working with a business mentor to others? If so then why?
Yes! Everyone has a different perspective, or a different approach to doing things. Working with Adam has meant that I have been able to learn from his expertise, but also adapt it to work effectively within the field I work. I’m Incredibly grateful for all he has done.

Adam Vaites of Royal London Asset Managers

Hi Adam, tell us about Royal London and your current role there?
Royal London are the largest Mutual in the UK, which means we are owned by our policyholders and don’t have shareholders, this is great as it allows us to distribute our profits to the people that matter most, our policyholders. I am a Senior Business Development Manager, and support Financial Advisers in the London market on business development and ideas to grow their business.

What made you decide to volunteer your time to work with Rob?
I wanted to share my skills and support a charity for some time, this was the perfect opportunity through ELBA. Impart my experience and help support and grow a charity that is close to my heart with having a little girl myself. It’s great to be supporting a local charity.

What are the skills that you feel that you have used when volunteering and, have you learned anything new?
I have learnt that business development skills are transferrable across all industries, and it’s about doing the basics brilliantly, knowing your audience, telling a motivational story, helping build a pitch to win some charity funding. It’s really helped improve my coaching and mentoring skills, by getting Rob to think about things, asking challenging questions, and in the end Rob coming up with the solutions, this can be very powerful.

What have been the highlights of working with Rob? Do you have any stories or successes that you would like to share?
There are so many success stories, it’s great to see the social media side developing and Rob delegating more to free up his time to do what he’s great at, playing to his strengths. Also coming over to Newham to watch the teams in action was a real eye opener, and just shows the difference the charity is making in the local community, and how important it is. We’re getting close to winning some really good charity funding…. So watch this space.

Would you recommend volunteering to others? If so then why?
I really would, it’s a real challenge, and it’s been extremely rewarding watching Rob and Ascension Eagles grow. It’s a two way street, I’m imparting my expertise and knowledge on Business Development, whilst also practicing my coaching skills externally.

If you are interested in learning more about ELBA’s Executive Partnerships programmes then please contact Jonathan Tait via jonathan.tait@elba-1.org.uk. We are always keen to hear from those who would like to find a coach/mentor or who would like to become a coach/mentor.

You can find out more about Ascension Eagles Cheerleaders here.

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