Here are the five nominees for the Business Mentor of the Year 2014 category. These individuals have supported a SETsquared student/student group to carry our enterprising actvity at their university.

Laurence James (University of Bath)

A mentor is one who lends their advice to situations where their experience may be invaluable to someone venturing into the unknown. A great mentor is one that acts as a sounding board to a whacky idea and keeps the ideas flowing until a realistic compromising solution is found. The “Best Mentor” however, is one that does all of the above as a given, as well as manages to impart a nugget of knowledge that unlocks the door to turn that same whacky idea into a business changing idea. Laurence is that “Best Mentor”, and although he should be awarded the title purely on the fact that he has to put up with our wildly fluctuating emotions and rubbish jokes, he has been our mentor since July 2013 and there is a very good reason that he is one of the trusted people that we have on speed dial.

Rob Carter (University of Bristol)

Rob delivered two free workshops as part of the Basecamp series around the themes of time management, personal motivation, and business strategy. The room was full of new people each time. Rob managed to get 40 people diligently taking notes from the moment each seminar started. No other speaker managed to create such a transparent discussion about life and work.

Rob also kindly gave up a whole afternoon for individual guidance. He left a lasting impression on each of the 6 students he saw that day. Rob listens intently, then gives forthright feedback with the only intention being to help. We owe many thanks to his ability to give without asking anything in return, he is a friend and mentor to us at Bristol Basecamp and many more. His blog provides inspiration for life and business to all and his recent Marathon success is testament to his determination.

His seminars are the ones which brought new entrepreneurs to our circles, and they leave everyone feeling empowered, attendees have rushed home to put Rob’s ideas into practice. We don’t blame them. He’s worth listening to.

Christine Allison (University of Exeter)

Christine Allison is passionate about supporting social enterprise.  She puts to good use her 20 years’ experience as an economist for the World Bank, and her impressive network of connections.

She has provided support and guidance for the development of four of Exeter’s social enterprises – including Jollie’s Socks who’ve been nominated for the SETsquared’s Best Social Enterprise and are stocked by John Lewis.

Christine supported the MBA team who were entering the Hult Prize competition – a challenge to create a workable business solution to a global problem and win a million dollars to make it happen.  Her support included guidance and input during their practice pitch.

Provided support preparing the IGNITE Impact Assessment Report.  (IGNITE is the University of Exeter Students’ Guild entrepreneur support unit.)  Christine has been a keen advocate of the work of IGNITE.

Following meetings with international students’ on the MBA programme, Christine has plans to ensure international students are supported in embedding social enterprise in home countries that are new to this way of doing business.

Gareth Hopkins (University of Southampton)

My business mentor has been really supportive and enthusiastic about my business ideas where others have dismissed them and told me I was wasting my time. My mentor also guided me in critical evaluation of my plans and helped me to think about how to prioritise my work if I want to start a successful business venture. I think having a good business mentor really helps to boost inspiration and commitment and I think I've made much more rapid progress since Gareth agreed to mentor me and listen to my ideas. 

Alec Sanderson (University of Surrey)

Alec is an experienced business coach and mentor and has held numerous executive and  non-executive roles in businesses from start-ups to multi-nationals since 1986.  He has been involved with the University of Surrey for a number of years. He has acted as a business mentor for our student placement year business SECL, and is currently mentoring students though the enterprise center on campus.  Alec gives freely of his time, and his straightforward but supportive approach encourages students to give of their best, enabling them to reach their goals.

A “techie” at heart, Alec specialises in the technology sector but has coached in many others including retail, media, healthcare and engineering.

Alec is a Chartered Director, Chartered Engineer, Chartered IT Professional and a Fellow of the British Computer Society.