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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. Our current focus is on the energy, manufacturing and construction sectors where there is an urgent need to both recruit and retain innovative thinkers and people with skills in 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 deliver a high quality, flexible community engagement programme that 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 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 e.g. girls as candidates for engineering career opportunities

We craft our contribution to address your specific needs once a partnership is confirmed, e.g. an emphasis on stimulating innovation or say 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 clever business plans and live projects.  Over the last three 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.

Andrew Skeet
HR Business Partner, Tarmac


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“I love to see 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

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: Yorkshire

Pamela Goee
Head of Community, SGN


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“S4TP is a fantastic programme really enjoyed the interaction with the pupils and 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

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.

My journey to my job: I started working in retail at around 16 years old.  I loved working with people and ensuring they received the best possible level of service. I went on to manage a retail store and then a region, responsible for 35 stores in the UK.  I then diversified into training, helping others be the best they can be through learning and development and training. Then I joined Mears as a Trainer, training teams to work with IT systems.  I always wanted to join a high performing team and here I am, in the Customer Success team. Our goal is to deliver excellence and help others do the same in a strategic way.

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

Region: North England & Scotland

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)

My journey to my job: I came into this role purely by change of jobs.  I wanted a new challenge and I was previously in a hospital environment prepping all outpatient clinics.  I did a NVQ level 3 business administration course after I had my son.

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

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.

My journey to my job: I have always been within a sales-orientated role.  I have worked for a variety of companies from Fiat and Alfa Romeo to Manpower and now Tarmac, all within a sales position.

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

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.

My journey to my job:  Growing up I wanted to be a train driver as my dad worked in the rail industry, but kept my options open. I grew up in a rough area where there was high unemployment and little prospects of an apprenticeship…so the army was my first choice…unfortunately (or fortunately) my mum wouldn’t sign my papers. I then went around some local factories where I was taken in as a trainee industrial spray painter…a good job but the company didn’t have good safety practices so I left to work as a general worker in Teachers Whisky.  Then I worked as a goods inwards supervisor with Booker Cash & Carry, then on to Gallagher Tobacco where I worked in customer liaison, then procurement. I worked there for 8 years and was being made redundant so I went to night school where I sat HND IT & Business Admin.  Whilst on the course I successfully applied for Network Support with NTL where I worked for 2 years then with Police Scotland working with CCTV (enhancing imagery to digital) and on to Tarmac where I have worked for 15 years.

The moral of my story is never pigeonhole yourself, try new things, never stop learning, be flexible, be positive, be yourself…give your all even if you’re doing something you don’t enjoy or know is not quite what you want to do at that time…seek out what you want and if you don’t find it don’t get despondent…life can be ironic, sometimes what you need finds you…

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

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


“why wouldn’t people want to support our idea…..its 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.

My journey to my job: I’m not an academic, and my route to my current role was not a straight line. I left school at 16 and worked in a kitchen (food, you might notice a trend here!), but the split shifts and cycling 11 miles each way (44 miles a day meant I did get plenty of exercise) was soon trumped by an apprenticeship as a pipe fitter/welder, working across most of the schools and hospitals of the North East for some years. I decided on a change in a totally wild move and enjoyed working as a rescue boat/sailing/canoeing/ instructor on the Firth of Forth before returning to pipe system installing. I joined what was Transco and my career took a new direction, I moved into training and assessing whilst still doing a day job as a “gas man”…also starting a long (very long) part-time university course a couple of years later. After leaving the tools and van behind I moved into integrity management, which took me to Aberdeen for a while and returning to a consultancy in the North East, which led me work in Malaysia, Chile and Ghana…new foods!! 2017 I made the jump to independent working, and I now consult with pipeline operators on management systems and review safe systems as well as developing response and integrity plans. Oh and now into year two of another university course, this time an MBA, so a new chapter in the journey has just begun.

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.

My journey to my job:  I started out my life with SGN as an apprentice with one of their contractors. When my training was completed I worked for a couple of different contracting companies before joining SGN officially in 2008. I worked as a First Call Operative, dealing with a wide variety of operational tasks and gas emergencies. After a few years as a First Call Operative I began deputising as a Team Manager and taking on the additional responsibilities this entailed. I enjoyed the new challenges of this role and helping to manage a team of engineers. Then in 2015 I heard about a position in the stakeholder team as a Stakeholder Engagement Manager and they were looking for someone with operational experience. I joined the stakeholder team in April 2015 and have learnt that SO much more goes on in SGN than just maintaining the gas distribution network and dealing with gas emergencies. A good example of that is this initiative with Solutions for the Planet, to support young people in developing themselves and working on their own project.

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

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 HGV’s.

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

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.

My journey to my job: Originally, I come from an education background. I have recently graduated University with my Masters in Education and hope to be able to go on to be a primary school teacher someday. At the moment I want to take a step back from education and get some life experience in the working world, and that is how I found Tarmac. I saw the signs all over the place when out on my travels so looked into what the company did. I found their ideas of sustainability and health and safety really interesting so looked to see if there were any positions in the company. I managed to secure a job in Wolverhampton although I am originally from Derby, so took the big step and moved over for my work. I originally started as a maternity cover but enjoyed my job so much I applied for a full-time position (which I am doing now).

A bit about me: In 2 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

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 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 us 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 to work with the wider audiences to provide fixes that are embedded into the organisation.

My journey to my job:  During my A Levels I’d lost my drive with education and spent more time in the local coffee shop rather than studying.  When the results came out it was not great surprise to me that I hadn’t got the grades I had needed, so came the conversation with my parents if education was not for me then off to work I should go. This resulted in a complete u-turn, having decided education was far better a prospect than working! I held my breath through clearing hoping for a minor miracle which amazingly happened and I was accepted into the University of Hertfordshire, studying Business Information Systems. Having completed my degree I knew I might have the qualifications but lacked the experience so applied for entry-level jobs. After a couple of months of temping I was offered a role in Lafarge as a Service Desk Analyst (IT Helpdesker.) Three years of hard work and early starts (6am!) I was promoted to the Team Leader, a couple of years later I was approached to progress to being a Business Analyst. Along came the merger with Tarmac and I took on the role of a Solutions Analyst focusing on the Cement & Lime Business Unit. A few years later a secondment was offered to join the Finance Transformation Team as a Project Manager. Fast forward to the purchase of Tarmac by CRH and another restructure, and I was promoted into the position I do today: Process Improvement Manager.

I think my career path shows if every day you are in a role you are visible, work hard and opportunities will be made known to you and that although things like restructures could be deemed as daunting, approach with positivity; they can be great openings for progression.

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

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.

My journey to my job: I’ve nearly always worked in an office environment, as I like working with other people and getting involved in projects.  I did change my career at one point and became a Driving Instructor but, although rewarding, it was quite a lonely job and I missed the office team spirit.  A job at SGN came up and I have been with them for 11.5 years now.

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

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.

My journey to my job: I left school with only my GCSEs and started looking for a job. When I started work I did not know what I wanted to do. I worked in a factory for a couple of years and then in an office, and then I started a temporary job working for British Gas. I joined British Gas in September 1987 and obtained a permanent job after six months. As I had no higher education the company paid for me to go to college, whereby I obtained a B-TEC National Certificate and High National Certificate qualifications in business and finance which took me four years to complete on day release. Over the years I have gradually worked my way up the ladder to my current position.

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

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.

My journey to my job:  I have always been in a busy office environment and worked my way up from an advisor to a manager through my history in Banking and Supply Chain. I have now found a career that is still office-based, but it also gives me the opportunity to visit customers, our London concrete plants and be a part of the development of the ever-changing London skyline.

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

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.

My journey to my job: I first started with the company when I was 18 – my first job when I left school.  I started off in the mail room, opening and delivering the mail (in the days before email and the internet). I quickly progressed to data processing then into customer service and within a couple of years, I became the Customer Services Supervisor then Customer Services Manager.

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

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