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Meet our mentors

Speaking from experience

We are all business owners, and we love talking business. Feel free to browse to get a feel for us. Our business is our pleasure and we hope that by sharing our experience we can help you understand your business better.

Click on mentors below to read more

Alex
Alex Minchin
Alex

Experience

Alex is the founder of Zest Digital, one of Oxford's leading digital marketing agencies. In 2014 Zest Digital was named 'Fastest Growth Agency' in the South East at the Wirehive 100 Awards, and was a finalist again in 2015, in addition to being a finalist for the coveted 'Most Respected Agency' award. Alex brings an impressive track record in business as a director under 30 years of age. He has been recognised for his focus on growth and culture.

On mentoring

I enjoy mentoring because I love talking about strategy, generating ideas, and applying my skills and experience to help other people. As a business owner, I lead a busy life, and mentoring chisels out a window of escape for me to share my experience and to learn from others who are on a similar journey. It's a hugely rewarding experience.

Fun fact

I used to be able to walk on my hands for 25m!

Carl Tomlinson
Carl Tomlinson
Carl

Experience

I've spent over 25 years in the business world, most of them as a shareholder a director of a family-run manufacturing business with sites in the UK and Czech Republic. During that time I have learnt the value of having someone independent who will listen carefully, probe thoughtfully and tease out the real issues so I can address them, and I’ve learnt how to be that person for others. I now use my experience and skill-set to help other business leaders lead more effectively and achieve their objectives

Fun fact

I write poetry and can often be seen performing it at The Catweazle Club on Cowley Road.

 

Catherine
Catherine Warrilow
Catherine

Experience

I joined as a mentor in 2014 and Mike Jennings has been my mentor since 2009.

I set up my PR business from home the year before, wanting to do things my way and give the Oxfordshire small business community a better way of promoting themselves.

Now, we have offices in Wallingford and we are a team of four – we’ve specialised the business to work in the travel and tourism sector.  There are always challenges but I smile from ear to ear pretty much everyday - the biggest lesson to me has been if you're running a business, why would you not do it your way and have fun with it.

On mentoring

 

When I became a mentor and had my first meeting with a client, I felt honoured to be able to share some of my experiences.  But more than that, the chance to sit, listen and hear other people’s stories and just talk about what it all means and why we do it, is hugely satisfying – it’s a chance to breath and reflect – I think that’s invaluable.

Fun fact

I’m ruled by my stomach – I can’t be a good boss or a good mum if I’m hungry! My favourite thing to do is eat out – a Thai meal with a good seat in the window to people watch is my idea of bliss.

Cathy
Cathy Dunbabin
Cathy

EXPERIENCE

From publican to property consultant my whole career involved people and it didn’t take me long to realise it was usually mutually beneficial to develop strong, trusted relationships with them.  When I stumbled upon business networking I realised that if you’re connecting with people that can help your business, you’re more than likely to be able to help them in return with theirs. A professional support network of those you trust is behind every truly successful enterprise and for over 5 years I have been the owner of Opendoorz a successful profession business network in Oxfordshire.

ON MENTORING

Being a mentor is a privilege as I get to meet and spend time with people who are full of excitement and passion for their new business. Those striving to improve who come with an open mind to explore ways they can achieve their goals, overcome challenges and ultimately become more successful.

 

Fun fact

I was the youngest female licensee in Oxford, and I love F words (Fun Fizz and Funky Footwear)

Dave
Dave Beesley
Dave
Jagi
Jagi Sangha
Jagi

Experience

After working in both director and head of marketing positions in the public and private sectors, I left the corporate world, and salary, to enjoy a portfolio career, as it is referred to in my industry.

Ten years ago I started Blenheim Cars Ltd with my husband and business partner.  At the time, we had two high performance sports cars on our books and now have a stock of over 50 vehicles. Not only do we sell cars, but with a team of six people, we lease, hire and maintain them too. 

Having established Blenheim Cars, I turned my attention back to my core area of expertise and, with two associates, began Karcha Ltd – a fully integrated marketing and change management agency.  We undertake research, write strategies and manage campaigns.  From concept to completion, we aim to create bespoke programmes to inspire, engage and deliver results for our clients.

On Mentoring

No matter how smart or brilliant you are, we all need a little help, advice and support from time to time.  As a mentor, I’d like to think I have the chance to share my knowledge and past experiences and where I can, boost morale.

Fun fact

For someone with relatively short legs, I walk incredibly fast.  In fact, most people I know struggle to keep up with me. 

John Madden
John
Louise
Louise Martinez
Louise

Experience

After 18 years as a successful hairdresser I was given an opportunity to open up the 4th salon in a successful brand. This was too good an opportunity to miss so I jumped at the chance. 5.5 years ago I open the doors of Electric Hairdressing Oxford. This was a cold start as no one in Oxford had heard of us. I would say we are now one of the most successful salons in Oxford city centre, employing and training at least 10 employees. Providing careers and amazing hairdressing of the highest standards. 

I did this by successful integration with the communiques through networking, events and supporting local charities and businesses. 

On mentoring

Starting a business is one of the hardest things I've ever done and if I can help other business owners achieve their dreams then that's what makes me happy!!! 

 

 

Fun fact

Just for fun this year I competed in Strictly Oxford and came 3rd!!

Keeeeep dancing!!!  

Nicky
Nicky Jaitha
Nicky
Roger
Roger Mumby-Croft
Roger
Sarah
Sarah Allen-Stevens
Sarah

Experience

I graduated in Electrical/Electronic Engineering in 1988 and eventually became a consultant for the mobile phone industry helping to extend and improve efficiency of networks in developing countries and also working as a lobbyist within the EC. I left the corporate world in 1997 to set up a family business called Wicklesham Commercial Properties, a small business centre based in renovated historic farm buildings at Faringdon and housing up to 15 companies.

I am passionate about SME’s and the rural economy and am involved in a number of organisations that help to provide support to small businesses and to the local economy.

 

Mentoring

I  love meeting new businesses  and am so grateful that this forms the main part of my job. To spend time as a mentor with even more business owners who are so passionate about their organisations is so exciting and a great privilege !

 

 

Fun fact

I used to play rugby for Oxford Ladies FC, which I loved, and my claim to fame is being tackled by Gill Burns, then captain of England Women’s RFU, at an Irish 7’s tournament. Unsurprisingly, I came off the worst !

Tom
Tom Wheatley
Tom

Experience

After spending my teens and early 20’s trying to achieve my dream of being a racing driver I decided to get ‘a real job’. Since then I have worked in both automotive and asset management industries. I now run Watson Wheatley, a software company based in Chipping Norton that builds innovative solutions for hedge funds and asset managers. In my spare time I am studying for an MBA at Said Business School in Oxford.

 

On Mentoring

I was previously a mentee and found the experience gave me a chance to step back and look at things from a different angle, it was very helpful. Now my business has moved on I am keen to help others through the mentoring service.

Hannah Jago
Hannah Jago
Hannah

Experience

I have a 20+ year retail management background which helped me enormously when I set up my own business 15 years ago, selling fair trade accessories in a party plan setting. This allowed me to stay at home with my children whilst they were young and work part time.

I built up a very strong clientele base which have continued to support me in my further ventures, now as a musician, teaching piano and singing to children and playing for old people in old people's homes and residential care centres, and also in network marketing with Utility Warehouse the Discount Club.

I really enjoy meeting new people, collaborations and travelling. 

Mike
Mike Jennings
Mike

Experience

When i qualified as a chartered accountant I soon realised that this could not be my life. I tried working in industry for a while, including for a local firm of builders, and ended up working with my father running the newly created Monument Business Park in Chalgrove. Through talking to tenants I soon realised that people who run businesses have a strength of character and a quiet confidence that I had not experienced before.

On mentoring

Being a mentor allows me to show people new to business that the anxieties they face will eventually be overcome, and that they will be able to be proud of the independence that they have gained from running their own business.

Fun fact

I once told a senior bank manager that he was my servant

Andrew
Andrew Elder
Andrew

Experience

My experience of running my own business started in 2006 when I followed my passion and broke away from the chains of the corporate world where my wheels were forever spinning. I started an audio technology firm which later went on to create some awesome software and hardware technology for guitarists/musicians. Sadly for various reasons we did not get to market in that vehicle, the technology was licensed on to another company and looks to be soon released into the market for 2017. Following the mixed success of this company I helped found Bongo IT where I am currently the marketing/sales (and wear many hats daily) director. We provide IT consultancy services for ambitious businesses.

Fun fact

I love miniature giraffes, my forum has sparked sightings of miniature giraffes from all over the world https://www.facebook.com/groups/17874251830/

Val
Val King
Val

Motivation

What drives me is the desire to make a positive difference to people - it's what makes me tick. What fascinates me is the complexity of the human condition; finding out what motivates people and how to help move them forward gives me a real buzz.

Experience

I'm Managing Director and co-owner of the Rooflight Company (www.therooflightcompany.co.uk) employing over 70 people in Oxfordshire. I'm in the fortunate position of working with a great team of people who love what they do and are really good at it.


Mentoring

I get a huge amount out of mentoring as I see it as two-way experience – I’m passionate about learning and always come away from a mentoring session having learnt something.

 

Fun fact

I’m an identical twin – although now we’re not so alike now, even our Dad couldn’t tell us apart when we were younger. We had fun confusing people!