Being a mentor to three different small and medium-sized businesses has helped BAE Systems’ Pete Boddy bring new and relevant insights and ideas to his day-to-day job.
Pete Boddy began his career with BAE Systems in 1996 and now focuses on evolving and developing engineering processes and techniques throughout BAE Systems’ military aircraft business. He has supported Be the Business through our Mentoring for Growth programme for 15 months, mentoring three medium-sized businesses from varying sectors in the North West of England.
He has found the mentoring experience to be incredibly rewarding on both a professional and personal level and has been particularly impressed at the entrepreneurial spirit and ability to move quickly within small businesses.
Pete’s approach to mentoring is to develop the most open and honest relationship possible with each of his mentees. By doing this he has been able to help each business apply a strategic approach to goals and to utilise business planning tools – practices which are commonplace throughout BAE Systems. These techniques have proven to be a real breakthrough for each firm. Providing a focus on strategy and the means to deliver objectives has brought swift and hugely beneficial results.
Build a good base
The first organisation Pete mentored was an oil and gas maintenance firm based in Manchester that wanted advice on structuring objectives, engaging employees in the company and delivering a better end product for customers. Pete mentored the production director, who spent much of his time fire-fighting business issues.
For Pete, developing an honest relationship with them was absolutely key in being able to deliver positive criticism and challenges – enabling them to identify their strategic approach and business objectives. He added: “As a mentor you might be the first person who has ever challenged embedded thinking and suggested different ways of doing things. You have to have the relationships in place for your challenges to be well received.”
During his involvement with the Mentoring for Growth programme, Pete has also mentored an IT and software company that wanted to expand the business. Again, using strategic planning tools, he was able to provide guidance around streamlining the offering online, resulting in a significant increase in sales. Significantly he also helped the firm identify “technology champions” who were then empowered to help transform the company’s website and improve the customer experience. In working with the IT company, Pete said: “Here I was able to bring the concept of the ‘incomplete leader’ to the business. In BAE Systems we talk about the strength of leaders who can admit they don’t know everything or have all the answers. We find this environment enables expert employees to feel confident in coming forward with innovations.”
Currently Pete is supporting an air conditioning unit firm that is keen to identify new revenue streams – a requirement that has become even more critical during the coronavirus pandemic.
In giving advice to other mentors, Pete stressed the need to be humble. “These businesses have asked for help and want support to be better,” he explained. “It’s not easy having someone scrutinise and really challenge prior assumptions and long embedded processes. As a mentor it’s important to remember this. Equally, I have learnt so much from the businesses I’ve worked with so far. Each firm has displayed a real hunger to learn and improve and achieved really impressive results very quickly. Being a mentor has helped me keep my ideas fresh and this makes me better at what I’m doing in BAE Systems too.”
Learn more about the Mentoring for Growth programme, find out how you can become involved or get access to an experienced mentor.