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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.
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.

Rob Thomas
General Management Graduate, Tarmac

“The Big Ideas programme provides an invaluable platform for young people to develop essential, industry-applicable skills in an environment where no idea is too big or too small. It’s an incredibly rewarding programme to be involved in and I hope to contribute for years to come!”

What I do: As a management graduate, my current role is to learn as much as possible about Tarmac and to develop my skills in order to find the area in which I can best contribute to the future growth of the business.

A bit about me: I spend much of my spare time going to the gym, exploring the Leeds music scene and travelling when I can.

Region: North England & Scotland (Yorkshire)

Robyn Pender
Stakeholder and Community Officer, SGN

“It’s great to see the young generation taking a genuine interest in the environment and how they can play their part to help! The ideas they come up with are far beyond what I could have imagined!”

What I do: I work in the Stakeholder and Community team for SGN based in Edinburgh. Our main responsibilities are to engage, influence and collaborate with our stakeholders, as well as being responsible for several corporate social responsibility initiatives across the company.

A bit about me: I live in the city centre of Edinburgh and love being in the city! Especially during the Fringe Festival which is a whole month long!

Region: North England & Scotland

Scott Rawlings
Site Supervisor, Skipton Rock Quarry, Tarmac

“It’s been amazing to see how random ideas shape into actual actions and how the new generation has so much enthusiasm to make the world a better place for everyone.”

What I do: I supervise the day-to-day operations of an asphalt plant making sure everyone works in a safe environment and that we meet customers’ expectations in Quality and service.

A bit about me: When I was 19 I went to Canada with Tarmac to learn about other sites which made me realise that I loved travelling, and ended up living overseas for 6 years – now I’m back in England to enjoy time with my family and friends.  I also like photography and hiking.

Region: North England & Scotland (Yorkshire)

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

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

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

Glen Judge
Operations Manager, IGEM                                                                                                                                                                     


“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

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

Faye Tester
Environment Manager, SGN                                                                                                                                                              


“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

Abbie Lloyd
General Management Graduate, Tarmac                                                                                       

“I’m really looking forward to mentoring pupils and encouraging them to be the best that they can be.”

What I do: I am currently learning about all aspects of contracting, from being out watching guys lay roads to planning what jobs we are going to do.

A bit about me: I am a really sporty person; I have competed at Nationals in Swimming and played for Birmingham Regional Hockey Team. I love going to the gym and hiking, and have only just taken up yoga! I love to travel and am planning to travel around Japan and Singapore next year.

Region: South East

Cara MacGregor
Head of Strategy, Lagoni Engineering Ltd (mentoring through involvement with IGEM)

“So exciting to see a programme that gets kids addressing real world issues. Focusing on STEM subjects but also developing softer skills like presenting and articulating ideas is hugely beneficial to help gain success in the business world.”

What I do: As Head of Strategy at Lagoni, my main aim is to ensure we work together to ensure our business is successful. This involves growing a high-calibre team, broadening our client base and offering a great level of service. One of our key business strategies right now is to develop our Cyber Security offering, protecting energy plants from cyber attacks – a really hot topic at present and very interesting to be involved in.

A bit about me: I love a challenge, be it running marathons, cycling in Europe or getting 3 small kids ready for school before work! Sport is a big part of my life, I also play football in a local FA league – with such busy lifestyles these days, sport helps balance things out and is a fun distraction at the same time, and something I also encourage my kids to do.

Region: South East

Owen Dukes
Land Surveyor, Tarmac                                                                                                            

“Everyone needs a good mentor.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a few, so I’m looking forward to passing on all the knowledge I can.”

What I do: I topographical survey most sites within the Southern Tarmac region. The surveys help to inform the business’ decisions.  I enjoy it as I get to see the whole lifecycle of our sites and it’s a privilege to watch them grow.

A bit about me: I love climbing mountains (unless they’re stock piles!). I’m closing in on completing the Wainwrights in the Lake District. Aside from this I’m a keen sportsman and can also be found trying to find new culture and food in European cities.

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.

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

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

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

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

Pamela Goee
Head of Community, SGN                       


“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

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

Michelle Mukona
Sustainability Analyst, Tarmac

“To know that I’ve played a part in inspiring young students to think big and accomplish something great in terms of Sustainability is very profound and fulfilling; this makes it all worthwhile.”

What do I do: As a Sustainability Analyst I provide essential analytical support, collate and report on carbon, energy and environmental performance data on behalf of the Senior Management team for Sustainability and Carbon Reporting. I’m also involved in supporting the implementation of key sustainability projects that contribute to the company’s sustainability strategy.

A bit about me: My greatest passion is helping others and making a difference in deprived communities. I enjoy reading books, watching science fiction movies, athletics and getting the chance to witness life success stories of ordinary but outstanding people is one my greatest motivators.

Region: West Midlands

Stephen Hoey
Continuous Improvement Advisor, Tarmac

“I am honoured to be part of this exciting programme and have thoroughly enjoyed working with the young adults to develop and further enhance their innovative ideas that they came up with during the Big Ideas Day.”

What I do: My role requires me to work with all levels of the business helping to effect change through the identification of improvement opportunities and utilising my coaching and training skills to equip our personnel with the necessary tools and techniques to drive process efficiencies within their relevant departments.

A bit about me: I am a keen festival-goer and particularly enjoy dance and DJ festivals such as TomorrowLand, which I attend with my son. I also enjoy walking in and around the Derbyshire Peak District and playing golf, although I still need to practice my putting technique…..!

Region: West Midlands

Laura Menendez Gonzalez
Design Support Technologist, Tarmac

I am looking forward to mentoring and encouraging children to come up with creative ideas that have the potential to change the world.”

What I do: I work in Tarmac’s Technical Department, ensuring that the products we sell comply with all the standards and helping create new ones. I also focus on broadening the company’s understanding of each ingredient that goes into asphalt.

A bit about me: I was born and raised in Spain and moved to the UK when I was 18. I have a MEng in Civil Engineering. Earlier this year, I won the CIHT West Midlands Young Professional of the Year Award. I’ve been doing STEM/Inspiring the Future activities since 2017. I absolutely love skiing and I’m planning to visit 30 countries before I turn 30!!

Region: West Midlands

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

Tim Cowling
Regulatory Affairs Manager, Tarmac                                                                                        

“Mentoring the students challenges me to improve the way I communicate and delivers a sense of personal achievement and pride when students develop their ideas into business plans.”

What do I do: I work with both internal and external specialists to understand the potential impacts of changes in legislation and policy, in particular with regards to energy and climate change issues.

A bit about me: In my spare time I go to the gym, run, play football and follow the mighty Bantams of Bradford City. Although they are not a Premier League team, the highs and lows of lower league football are often entertaining!

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 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

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