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Our work with businesses

We specialise in connecting businesses with schools in their local communities to solve social, environmental and economic challenges. We work with businesses primarily, but not exclusively, in the energy, waste, manufacturing, engineering and construction sectors, where there is an urgent need to both recruit and retain innovative thinkers and people with skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Giving employees the opportunity to be mentors in a dynamic learning environment, alongside young people, we see their creative and leadership skills leap forward.

Solutions for the Planet delivers an award-winning, high quality, flexible, community engagement programme.  This programme allows industry to work in partnership with young people, schools and communities to generate and implement sustainable business solutions. The Big Ideas developed collaboratively by young people and their business mentors, through our core programme, are designed to improve society, the environment, innovation and entrepreneurship. .

Our business partners

Solutions for the Planet does not regard its collaboration with business partners merely as a way of helping them express their Corporate Social Responsibility or of demonstrating their added Social Value. We are as interested in your long-term bottom line as you are. We believe that sustainable businesses invest in seeding their own future success.

Our Business Partners are paramount to the success of the programme and traditionally sign up for three years.

Read more about our fantastic Business Partners below.

New businesses

We’re looking for companies who would like to discuss the opportunity of partnering the programme in an existing or new region.
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A region usually involves four to six businesses who contribute both financial and human resource. In return companies gain significant return on investment through the benefits outlined below:

  • Building effective operational links with businesses in their industry sector
  • Fostering productive links between schools, communities and businesses which are local to their operating sites
  • Growing a workforce for their future – developing employability skills and capabilities of local young people as the future generation of potential employees and customers. This is often locally related to sites of their long-term projects.
  • Educating schools, teachers, parents and students about the range of career opportunities in their company thus increasing diversity in the workforce and facilitating recruitment
  • Providing a powerful vehicle for positive PR and enhanced brand reputation, locally and nationally, and demonstrating the social value added by the company
  • Developing employees as Solutions for the Planet Ambassadors thus improving their own mentoring, communication, collaboration and leadership skills through volunteer hours in the programme
  • Accessing innovative ideas and stimulating increased creativity within the company
  • Stimulating sustainability solutions within their own daily operations
  • Contacting and engaging hard-to-reach local communities in a cost-effective way, for example encouraging girls as candidates for engineering career opportunities

We craft our contribution to address your specific needs once a partnership is confirmed, such as an emphasis on stimulating innovation, or diversity within your company.

On confirming a partnership we will discuss in detail the specific requirements of your company and the impacts you would like to see as a result of participating.

Meet the mentors

Our business mentors work hard to support our teams of young people to turn their Big Ideas into achievable, beneficial and creative business plans and live projects.  Over the last four years we’ve had over 100 mentors, from across our Business Partners, volunteer on the programme.  We asked some of our current mentors to tell us a little bit more about themselves and what they get out of mentoring with Solutions for the Planet.

Jo Knox
Sales Team Leader, Tarmac                  


“Fantastic programme that challenges the kids to challenge our planet and our future.”

What do I do: I look after the Readymix Concrete Sales Team at Tarmac.  We are normally the first point of contact for our customers so it is our priority to make sure that the customer has the best experience possible.  I look after the day-to-day running of the department and the role involves negotiating prices/contracts with clients, vetting technical specifications (concrete is a very technical product!) ensuring our customers get what they want, when they want it and coaching and leading my team to do the same.

A bit about me: Music is my passion!  I love Rock and Metal and a little bit of Jazz & Blues.  I go to loads of gigs and I am a regular at a couple of festivals every year.  And I love my cute little cat Lucifurr.

Region: North England & Scotland

Lucy Rapley
Process Improvement Manager – Materials Central, Tarmac


“The program has opened my eyes to my own impact on the planet, thinking I was doing my bit nicely to be recycling but not realising the impact that that process can then have. There is so much more to buy into. It’s really great to be part of the initiative and to see the children learn from us and we in turn learn from them.”

What I do: My job is to support my team in their career development giving strategic benefits to Tarmac. We investigate problems within the Materials business  (Aggregates, Asphalt & Readymix) covering the Purchase to Pay, Order to Cash, Finance and Audit processes. We also work with wider audiences to provide fixes that are embedded into the organisation.

A bit about me: I’m known in my office for having a bit of a shoe obsession, I have a couple of hundred pairs to date and an entire wardrobe full of them including ones which light up as you walk!

Region: West Midlands

Nicki Batley
Customer Success Business Partner, Mears Group Plc


“A positive and exciting way to assist young people with projects and increase their confidence whilst working together.”

What I do:  I have responsibility for anything relating to ‘our customers’.  This includes business insight, performance and managing change projects to enhance our customer’s journey with Mears.

A bit about me:  I love renovating houses and interior design.

Region: North England & Scotland

Mark Smith
Network Support Manager, SGN


“It is a fun and enjoyable programme where you have the opportunity to meet lots of different people, and watch them grow their idea from scratch and see them develop as individuals and learn new skills.”

What I do: I look after and manage a small team of people, whereby we control and manage the risk and condition of our gas pipes in the ground, covering the South of England. This involves carrying out various surveys of our Network and analysing data and trends.

A bit about me: I enjoy walking and have climbed Mount Snowdon and Scarfell Pike and am planning to climb Ben Nevis as part of the Three Peaks.

Region: South East

Grant Williamson
External Area Representative, Tarmac


“Fantastic opportunity to support Grangemouth High School students realise their potential through this nationwide project. Encourages open discussion, team working, collaborative working and rational thinking whilst demonstrating enthusiasm.”

What I do: I engage and manage a portfolio of accounts from diverse sectors of the industry, build relationships with decision-makers and influence sales of Tarmac products, solutions and services. I realise potential through meetings, recorded account plans, diverse strategies, engagement, understanding business needs and providing support to diversify our brand in the market.

A bit about me:  I am happily married with two grown-up girls and live in East Kilbride….I love my life…most of my time can be found doing DIY or at gigs..most recently The View, The Charlatans, Liam Gallagher, Catfish, Christina & The Queens, 1975…there’s not many new or older bands I haven’t seen….was lucky enough to see The View in Berlin last year and met Sean Paul & Sean Kingston in Jamaica…I attend a lot of festivals too.

Region: North England & Scotland

Laura Connolly
Internal Sales Supervisor, Tarmac


“I really enjoy mentoring the pupils and watching them grow in confidence and develop key skills outside of the classroom.”

What I do: I manage the Internal Sales Team for Tarmac Readymix London Sector as well as collaborating with the External Sales Team and our 8 London plants to improve processes in our region.

A bit about me: I am a massive foodie – the hotter the better! I also enjoy kayaking, taking my dog for long walks in the woods, cinema, gym, watching rugby, and the occasional thrill-seeking experience (including a wing walk and skydive – even though I am petrified of heights!!)

Region: South East

Pauline Sharp
Graphical Data Editor, SGN                      


“To motivate and build young people to learn about science, technology, engineering, maths and environmental issues.”

What I do: Digitising is the process that is used to capture graphical pipe and plant data from as-laid drawings onto SGN GIS (SGN Geographic Information System)

A bit about me: I am 55, married, with one son.   In my younger days, I worked as a nanny both here and in Canada. I interact with people and hopefully give of myself in a kind and helpful way.  My hobbies are photography and gardening.  I am currently training to do a 5-day charity trek along part of The Great Wall of China in October.

Region: South East

Joanne Kingsbury
Maximo Data Capture Team Manager, SGN


“What I like about this programme is it encourages young people to be innovative and develop their skills in areas they wouldn’t necessarily get involved in.  It is nice to see how their projects evolve.”

What do I do: I work in a very busy office ensuring that the SGN Mapping system is correct.  I am the team manager for the Capture team and we are responsible for updating our asset depository which holds all the relevant information about our pipes and their location in order to protect the safety of both SGN employees and members of the general public.

A bit about me: I love sport and keeping myself active and fit.  I enjoy going out for long bike rides and going for long walks with my beautiful dog, Ruby.  I do an activity break with my family each year which can get a bit competitive but thoroughly enjoyable.  Currently, I am trying to get my fitness levels up for a Charity walk across the Great Wall of China in October.  I like challenges!

Region: South East

Claire Barrett
External Account Manager, Tarmac


“The programme is a great opportunity for young people to express their concerns about the planet and to come up with great ideas on how to tackle these issues. It is wonderful to hear the ideas and to watch how the ideas are developed.”

What I do: My role is to identify and develop new sales opportunities and to work alongside existing customers to maintain a strong business relationship.

A bit about me: I love all types of food, eating out is one of my favourite things to do! I like to read and watch films.  I love to travel when I can, visiting new places and cultures.

Region: South East

Rebecca Stretton
Sales Advisor, Tarmac                 


“We need your generation to keep all the imaginative                                      ideas alive!”

What I do: My job includes working alongside an internal sales representative processing orders, taking calls, pricing quotes and ensuring that customers have the best possible experience with our company as possible.

A bit about me: In two words I am ‘Disney obsessed!’ as you can probably see by my profile picture, I love anything Disney and probably know most if not all songs in all Disney films, so don’t be afraid to come and have a sing-song with me if you know the words!

Region: West Midlands

Andy Fuller
Consultant Engineer, Holistic Integrity Consulting (mentoring through involvement with IGEM)


“Why wouldn’t people want to support our idea ….. it’s a good idea!” (not my quote but from one of the students, but sums it up nicely.)

What I do: I support pipeline operators across the oil and gas industry in maintaining the integrity of their systems and compliance with the laws and regulations in place.

A bit about me: I live at the coast, which means I can walk out of my office/home at any time and walk along the sea front and splodge in the “cool” North Sea, no better way to relax….unless there’s food involved as well!

Region: North England & Scotland

Dan Edwards
Stakeholder and Community Manager, SGN


“The imaginative and out-there ideas that young people come up with are amazing, and the S4TP initiative gives a great way for those ideas to be developed and pushed to their extremes, which is so refreshing.”

What I do: I work with the wider business to engage, influence and collaborate with our stakeholders. Providing support with understanding the benefits of successful stakeholder engagement, identifying who our stakeholders are, facilitating introductions and identifying processes to support successful engagement.

A bit about me: I’m a keen fitness fanatic and you’ll find me in the gym every day, before work, after work…or both. I also take part in obstacle course races, such as Tough Mudder. When I’m not at work, in the gym or getting muddy, I enjoy going to the cinema and immersing myself in a good film.

Region: South East

Glen Judge
Operations Manager, IGEM                           


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“I enjoy watching ideas develop from a pencil and paper at a Big Ideas Day to reality, actual business plans & prototypes being produced.”

What I do: I manage the Gas Mains & Service replacement programme for Northern Gas Networks.

A bit about me: I am a keen motorcyclist and have just completed a tour of Europe – 7 countries in 6 days!

Region: North England & Scotland

Andrew Skeet
HR Business Partner, Tarmac                


“I love to see the unrestricted thinking and innovative ideas young people have. Seeing individuals’ confidence grow and personalities shine as they develop their ideas gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

What I do: I partner the business to ensure we have the people, the skills and the capability within the organisation to deliver the business goals over the next 5 – 10 years.

A bit about me: I have recently returned from working in Rio, Brazil for 2 years.

Region: South East

Pamela Goee
Head of Community, SGN                       


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“S4TP is a fantastic programme, I really enjoyed the interaction with the pupils and was amazed by the big ideas of the youngsters.”

What I do: I am the lead on Corporate Responsibility in the Community on behalf of SGN.

A bit about me: Avid football fan and theatre-goer.

Region: South East

Faye Tester
Environment Manager, SGN


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“I was really impressed by the innovative ideas the kids came up with. S4TP encourages out of the box thinking and encourages skills and ways of thinking that we can take back to the workplace.”

What I do: I look after our sites, providing Environmental advice, looking at compliance and ways to improve our environment and lessen our impact.

A bit about me: In my spare time I am usually at dance class, performing on stage or hanging out in the background of TV programmes as an ‘extra’.

Region: North England & Scotland

Paul Betts
General Manager, Tarmac


“I really enjoyed the interaction with the pupils and was amazed with some of the ideas that they came up with. I was made to feel welcome at each school I went to and thoroughly enjoyed being part of the programme.”

What I do: I am the general manager for a readymix company based in London and Essex. I have over 100 employees and run 7 production sites and manage 60 HGVs.

A bit about me: In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family (I have a 6-year-old son called Charlie) and enjoy listening to all genres of music.

Region: South East

Diane Jamieson
Design Assistant, SGN


“S4TP offers a creative and supportive environment to conceptualise new and exciting ideas.
When the ideas are flowing, the buzz in the room is electric!”

What I do: I design and cost gas infrastructure for new and existing properties.

A bit about me: In my spare time in enjoy everything fabric- and sewing-related.  From clothes to soft furnishings, I’ll take any old item and turn it into something new and unique! 

Region: South East

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