Each month we are introducing the wonderful mentors that support the Big Ideas programme, in a feature we call ‘Meet the Mentor’. The programme and the students on it simply would not be the same if we didn’t have this mentor support from our business and community partners, and the mentors themselves get an awful lot out of it too. Find out more about the range of interesting and diverse mentors we work with on our Meet the Mentors page on the website!
Allow me to introduce one of our new SUEZ mentors from our South East region – Ed Smythe
Name: Ed Smythe
Position: Key Account Director, SUEZ
· Please describe your role:
I am part of the Key Accounts team at SUEZ. Together we configure recycling and waste services for large, strategically important businesses across the UK and ensure the proposed services operate smoothly. My team look after facilities such as Power Stations, Paper Mills and Factories.
· Please describe your route to this role:
I’ve always been interested in recycling and waste management; I chose Geography as a core area of focus at school to better understand the sociological and environmental impacts of this topic. I started my career at SUEZ as a truck driver after I graduated from University with a BSc degree at a time when jobs were quite hard to come by. Through SUEZ I applied for and was accepted on a graduate scheme within the sales team. Over 18 months I learned about all aspects of commercial sales and account management whilst picking up significant knowledge of how companies like SUEZ process recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Upon successful completion of the graduate scheme in 2013 I moved on to roles in Account Management, Project Management and Bid Management before progressing to become a Key Account Director in 2018.
· What advice do you have for young people interested in either following a similar route to you or in working for your business/sector?
No matter where you start off within a business or sector, if you create and seize opportunities where you can, you will be able to progress as far as you want to, even if your education or degree isn’t in the same field as the one you become interested in. I started off at the front line of our business, but through hard work, enthusiasm and dedication I have become the owner of a substantial customer portfolio, a well-respected team member and an expert in the industry to whom others come for advice.
· Why did you get involved in S4TP’s Big Ideas programme?
Through my own education and career development I’ve seen where additional coaching and mentoring would have had a really positive impact on my confidence and self-belief. The Big Ideas programme gives me the opportunity to give something back and help talented young people with their personal development and expand on their skills.
· What involvement have you had so far?
I’ve only been involved since October 2018. However, after an engaging and enjoyable training session with a great group I’m enthusiastic about meeting the young people involved, listening to their ideas and encouraging them to put those ideas into practice
· Has participating met your expectations?
Despite only undertaking the initial training, the programme is clearly very well-organised and the passion for development of young people is infectious. All the other mentors have a supportive and collaborative attitude, and I’m looking forward to making a positive contribution to the programme.
· What has been the most challenging part about participating in the programme?
Looking ahead to when I start interacting with the young people on the programme, I anticipate that moving from a professional business environment with its own language, the shift to speaking and interacting effectively with young people will be significant and not to be underestimated. Adapting and simplifying language used, remembering to be open and empowering, and ensuring a positive tone are vital to encouraging the sharing and development of ideas.
· What would you say to others considering participating in the programme?
Don’t hesitate; sign up.
There is a clear disconnect between education and careers which makes it really difficult for young people to understand which path to take, which subjects to choose and what topics to focus on. SUEZ are a waste management and water treatment company, but we often fail to promote the wide range of careers in IT, Production, Engineering and Laboratory services that may not be obvious to those in full time education. It is our duty to proactively promote the various pathways and make it easier for young people to choose the right direction for them.
Working with young people is challenging but personally rewarding in equal measure. Ideas developed through this programme may improve the environment, our planet and our lives for the better, creating a more sustainable future for us all.
We are proud and grateful to have you on board Ed – thank you for all your help!
Answers written by: Ed Smythe, Key Account Director, SUEZ
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd.