Women’s Business Mentoring launched nationwide on 1st June 2017 with some of the most recognisable and successful Scottish businesswomen leading the way. This initiative brings together the connectivity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, Women’s Enterprise Scotland and some of Scotland’s leading women entrepreneurs: Liz Cameron OBE of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Carolyn Currie of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Jeanette Forbes of PCL Group, Poonam Gupta OBE of PG Paper, Marie Macklin CBE of Macklin Partnerships and Petra Wetzel of WEST Brewery to encourage more women to have or become mentors and to help support and create more female business owners.

Liz Cameron OBE

Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce | @lizcameronscc

“#WomenWhoLead is all about being visionary and ambitious. It takes our collective success, knowledge and experience and paves the way for the next generation of women business leaders.”

Why do you think Mentoring works and is successful in breaking down barriers in business?

Many women face a number of challenges when they seek to enter the business world. Lack of confidence, limited funding, lack of strong networks and balancing business alongside family life often delay career plans. Mentoring, and the showcasing of successful role models are a powerful means of overcoming these barriers.

Why would you encourage other women to become Mentors?

Talent and ideas from many women in business are overlooked causing them to be held back. Through a sustained Mentoring relationship and access to a strong community, more women will have the confidence, to tackle challenges and secure opportunities.

What is your favourite part of being a Mentor?

Becoming a mentor is a rewarding experience. You learn from those you are helping in many ways beneficial to your own personal development. To be presented with the opportunity to pass on your knowledge and connections to help individuals grow their business and network is a remarkable privilege.

How has Mentoring helped you in business?

Mentoring gave me the chance to discuss opportunities and to share many challenges with individuals whom I knew I could trust. This trust is very important. The lesson from my many mentors has been invaluable, and continues to influence many of my decisions and my direction of travel.

What traits do you admire the most in people starting their business?

The most admirable traits found in those starting their business is the hunger and determination to forge a way and do something for themselves, the ambition to create jobs and wealth, and the reality of turning an idea into a real efficient business.

Poonam Gupta OBE

Founder & Chief Executive, PG Paper | @p_gupta01

“Mentoring is all about collaborating. It unlocks talents and ideas you never thought you had and ultimately, adds value to your business and your life.”

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

My business has given me a sense of purpose and challenges me every day to learn something new. It is so rewarding to create something, lead it and watch it grow with the wonderful team that I have today. I love seeing the members of my team thrive and take pride in what they are doing.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own business?

If you believe in what you do, be brave and take that first step! Do your research properly, beyond asking family and friends, and remember there is no shortcut to hard work. Be sensible when spending money during the set-up period, it is important to keep clear accounts.

Why do you think Mentoring works?

Mentoring helps as it broadens the horizons of one’s understanding and makes a person think beyond their own capacity and the obvious. A good mentor can help unlock ideas and talent and add value to your business and your life.

What traits do you admire the most in people starting their business?

Hard work, dedication, positive energy and self-belief are all traits which I find extremely admirable in people starting their own business. They have obviously spotted something that nobody else has and believe in their ability to make it successful.

Marie Macklin CBE

Executive Chair, Macklin Enterprise Partnerships | @MarieMacklin

“In business, we all need advice and guidance, no matter how experienced we may be. Mentoring provides independent and honest advice and support that as a mentor, I value highly from those who mentor me.”

What do you like most about running your own business?

My favourite part of running my own business is the independence I have to not only make and implement decisions, but to organise my own schedule. I like being able to take risks and turn my ideas into reality. No two days are the same for me so it keeps business interesting.

Do you have a top tip of how to overcome and deal with challenges in business?

When someone says it can’t be done just smile and go do it anyway. Tenacity and resilience always wins the day, and always have a plan B.

Why do you want to empower other women to start their own business?

When I was starting out there were no women to give me advice or moral support. I am in a position now where I can empower other women to start and run their own business and I think that’s a great thing for our economy and society.

Did having a mentor encourage you to become one?

My first mentor was my Dad and then two former bosses in the banking sector who were both male. I have experienced so many benefits of having a mentor and this encouraged me to become one and Women’s Business Mentoring is a perfect fit for me.

What traits do you admire the most in people starting their own business?

I admire their belief, aspiration & determination. Days can be long and days can be hard, but they just get on with the job and bounce back for the next round.

Petra Wetzel

Founder & Managing Director, West Brewery | @Westbeer

“Everyone works hard at something. To make it meaningful, work hard at the right thing so you can achieve your potential.”

As an entrepreneur, how did you overcome challenges in setting up your own business?

I could write a book about the many challenges (maybe I will one day) but the key is to keep believing that what you are doing is going to be worthwhile in the end. If you keep the faith, suppliers, customers and your team will come along on the journey and make the dream come true. I am extremely stubborn and tried to prove a point that a German-style brewery called WEST based in Glasgow’s East End wasn’t as daft an idea as it sounded.

Did you have a Mentor when you started your own business? In what ways did they help?

The wonderful Charan Gill taught me the basic skills for the restaurant trade and the inimitable Hilary Jones was my tutor for all things brewing. I was really lucky. I knew nothing about brewing, hospitality or finance when I took over the reigns of WEST in January 2008 so I have had a steep learning curve. Having experienced people as sounding boards makes the job far less lonely.

What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

What I am most proud of is having managed to grow WEST into the business it is today whilst raising Noah as a single mum. No beer award, no glorious restaurant review compares with getting a cuddle at the end of the day from your son. I guess being awarded an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University wasn’t too shabby either.

What traits do you admire the most in people starting their business?

My heroine Amelia Earhart said “Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done” and I therefore admire resilience and a healthy dose of self belief in young entrepreneurs. When I set up WEST Women in 2016 I looked for women “on a mission” to turn an idea into a reality and I love working with women who want to prove doubters wrong.

Jeanette Forbes

Founder & Chief Executive, PCL Group | @PCLGroup

“Mentoring has played a significant part in my career and I can say with confidence that a strong network of women business mentors can pave the way to success in your business and personal life.”

When did you realise you wanted to start your own business?

I realised I wanted to start my own business from a very early age. My grandparents had their own wholesale fish business and at the age of 12 years old I was ordering the fish from Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen for next day delivery by road to Halifax in Yorkshire.

Why do you want to empower other women to start and run their own business?

I want to empower women to start and run their own business because there is no greater satisfaction than showing those who doubt your ability, that you can do it. In the past 17 years since starting PCL Group I have seen many changes and I have changed too by learning to grow and becoming more confident. I want other women to experience that transformation from taking that first initial step. Entrepreneurship is a word not a barrier.

What do you enjoy most about the Mentoring experience?

What I enjoy most about the Mentoring experience is “giving back” or as it is now known “paying it forward”. When you make the commitment to mentor someone in business you will be amazed by not only how much you give but also about how much you receive.

How do you build successful relationships with your mentees?

I build successful relationships with my mentees by being totally honest about anything they wish to discuss. It has always been one of my strongest attributes to say things exactly how they are and not paint the perfect picture. After all, life is not perfect and believe me running a business is not always perfect either so I don’t agree with giving people false hope. Say it how it is, this way you both understand what is involved and there can be no misunderstanding.

What traits do you admire the most in people starting their business?

The traits I admire most are their innovative ideas. Their belief in what they are trying to achieve, their failures and not giving up as well as their success stories. I was told very early on when I started my business that you measure your success by how much you had to give in order to achieve it! True words in every sense.

Carolyn Currie

Chief Operating Officer, Women’s Enterprise Scotland | @currie_carolyn

“If women started businesses at the same rate as men, it would contribute an additional £7.6bn to Scotland’s economy.”

Why do you think it’s important for more women to start businesses in Scotland?

No country can afford to waste any of its talent and we need to ensure that the business landscape in Scotland is a place where everyone can achieve their full potential. Supporting more women to start-up and achieve their business aspirations will boost the economy and generate greater innovation.

What are some of the barriers for women starting their own business?

Research undertaken by WES and other organisations shows that women face specific challenges including juggling family and caring commitments, achieving credibility for the business, accessing networks and accessing finance. Tackling those issues can help business growth and job creation.

Why is Mentoring a solution to dealing with these barriers?

Women value mentoring as it offers an opportunity to learn from others who have been there before them and to apply those insights to achieve greater business sustainability and growth. Two heads are often better than one when faced with a tough issue or a critical business decision.

What traits do you admire the most in people starting their business?

I have worked with many businesses over the years and I am always struck by the passion people have for their business idea or area of business. It is infectious and engaging and often creates innovative new approaches and products. Enhancing Scotland’s reputation as an entrepreneurial nation.