Scheme will deliver top-drawer mentoring to 22 aspiring businesseswomen in '22

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce's 22in22 mentoring scheme will support a new generation of businesswomen. Keely Hancox, operations manager at the Chamber, outlines the thinking behind a project which pairs aspiring businesswomen with those whose success they aim to emulate.


We were thrilled to recently launch our 22in22 mentoring scheme for aspiring businesswomen for the coming 12 months.

It is the second time we have run the programme in which we pair our mentees each with a successful business leader to help them take the next step on their career ladder.

The programme began a year ago when we decided to test the idea of running the mentoring scheme under the name of 21in21 – due to the fact that we were pairing 21 mentees with 21 mentors – in 2021!

Over many years, the Chamber has run a series of events for businesswomen; we have heard from a host of inspirational speakers and all have been incredible role models for our audience.

We wanted to build on this and provide a platform to offer support and advice to business women, as well as capitalise on the breadth, skills and experience of our top businesswomen across Coventry and Warwickshire

We had heard so many women, who have gone on to be successful, say how they’d wished they’d had a mentor at an earlier stage in their career. We know that mentoring can support individuals to climb the career ladder, as well as supporting businesses to survive and grow.

The programme has exceeded all our expectations and the feedback we have had from both mentors and mentees has been amazing. It is fair to say that 21in21 has made a genuine difference to people’s lives.

For some, it has been about profile raising or boosting sales, for others it has been about offering support and confidence-building.

We heard from people such as Anne Simonsen, owner of Shape It Up Pilates in Rugby, who has turned her business around despite losing half of her clients and almost closing the studio during the pandemic. She thanked her mentor Leigh Hunt, Regional Partnership Director for CityFibre, for providing advice and encouragement during a period of uncertainty.

Leigh, who spent 20 years working as an e-business advisor for Warwickshire County Council, first met Anne in search of relief for her back problems, but has since returned the favour by providing mentor support to her as part of the 21in21 programme.

They met once a month and Anne said that Leigh’s advice had encouraged her to take more time to focus on what she wanted to achieve with her business rather than just fight to stay afloat. She has since started to trust her own vision for the business and day-to-day operations have improved dramatically.

We have heard many examples like this and it really is testament to the way our mentors and mentees have approached the programme.

We are now going through the process of pairing this year’s women and are hopeful that we can continue with the success of 21in21 as we roll out 22in22.

It’s such an inspirational programme and shows the power of having someone to talk through ideas and issues with and the benefits that can bring to businesses and individuals.

For more information, please visit https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/membership/22in22

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