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Matching six young entrepreneurs with six Shell mentors

Mentoring pilot launched by Shell LiveWIRE Netherlands

Shell LiveWIRE Netherlands has launched a pilot mentoring programme to enable some of its innovative young entrepreneurs to receive the specialist business support from Shell employees that they need to strengthen and grow their companies.

The pilot, which will run between June and December, will match six young entrepreneurs with six Shell mentors. Each of the young entrepreneurs will have one introductory session with their mentor to establish a common understanding, followed by three one to one meetings at a Shell location to drive progress towards the desired outcome. During January 2015, Shell LiveWIRE will evaluate the pilot programme and if it proves to have been successful, it will be scaled up and made available to a larger number of young entrepreneurs.

Explaining the reasoning behind the launch of the pilot, Celina Wang, Shell LiveWIRE Netherlands Programme Manager said, "Mentoring has an important role to play within LiveWIRE version two, especially in terms of developing sustainable businesses with the potential to grow and create new jobs.

"As well as providing young entrepreneurs with unparalleled access to the specialist knowledge and expertise they need to accelerate the development of their business, the mentoring relationship is a fantastic way to involve Shell staff within the Shell LiveWIRE programme, and is an opportunity for them to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach within their work for the benefit of the company. It's a great learning and personal development experience for both parties.”

Prior to the start of pilot, Shell LiveWIRE Netherlands developed a mentoring agreement with Shell's legal department setting out the terms and conditions of the mentoring relationship, which among other things makes it clear that the mentor cannot be held legally responsible for any decisions made by the mentee on the basis of their discussions.

Describing the characteristics of her mentors, Celina said, "They are generally young ambitious Shell staff who are willing to engage in activities beyond their regular job role and who have a real desire to contribute to society.”

The mentors have been selected in terms of the knowledge and expertise they can bring in helping the mentee to develop a solution to a specific challenge facing their business. For example, one mentor has sales expertise and will be providing the mentee with support on product commercialisation and developing market penetration strategies. Another mentor with a background in communications will be advising their mentee on raising their company's profile through the media.

Commenting on the needs of the mentees, Celina said, "In general, the product is there and the entrepreneur simply needs to know how to maximise its commercial potential.

"Mentors are an invaluable sounding board for young entrepreneurs to test out their new ideas and business development strategies. Due to the wide range of specialist expertise which Shell staff can bring, the mentees really value this and see the input of their mentor as being new and invigorating.”

Speaking about the challenges of matching the right mentor with the right mentee, Celina added, "I took the time to get to know the entrepreneurs very well, both in terms of their companies and what their business needs and challenges are. I was then able to approach suitable mentors from my personal network within Shell, whose expertise and interests would be of value to the mentees.”

Summing up the aims of the pilot, Celina said, "From my perspective, LiveWIRE version two is about connecting the entrepreneur more closely with Shell. On the one hand there's a connection to Shell's business by enabling some beneficiaries to become part of Shell's value chain.

"Mentoring is also an opportunity for the entrepreneur to connect more with Shell's people so we can learn from one another. Shell is a learning organisation and mentoring provides a valuable opportunity for Shell staff and entrepreneurs to create a mutually beneficial learning experience which enhances the mentee, their business, Shell and the economy.”


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