Why becoming an SBM mentor can be good for your own CPD by Cheryl Campbell

The role of school business leadership is a wide ranging and constantly evolving role. I try to make sure that I am always learning and ready to evolve too. CPD is the only way for me to make sure that I am able to keep up with the changing demands of the role. If you have a look at the ISBL professional standards you can see how many different areas are covered by the role and you start to get an idea of the expectations of professionalism from a school business leader.

So, with such a wide-ranging remit where do you start? My personal approach was to take the standards and evaluate my current level of competence in each area. It was a valuable exercise and interesting to see where I perceived myself to be before looking at the standards and what I thought afterwards. It was a mixture of being proven right, being pleasantly surprised and some reality checks. The most useful outcome was being able to identify my weaker areas and then set about putting in place a plan to “step up my game”.

So why is this important? It’s important to me because I don’t think the Business Manager of today can afford to stand still. So aside from seeking out formal courses and training to compliment the skills needed for the role, I access CPD in many other ways. One of the key aspects of CPD for me was identifying a mentor.

When I was still an aspiring SBM I sought out a serving SBM to speak to and get some advice about the role and what it entailed. This was useful to point me in the direction I needed to go in to secure a business manager role.

Once I started working as an SBM I kept contact with this SBM as a source of support. It was invaluable. Someone to get advice from. Someone who’s most likely been through the ups and downs of the role that I was experiencing for the first time.

If you’re thinking about what CPD you can access maybe it’s time to think outside the box. Structured courses are not the only way to develop and grow as a professional. In fact, I have learnt far more over the last year by networking on (SBL)Twitter and keeping in regular contact with my mentor. Also, it works both ways - being a mentor is also really rewarding and makes sure you revisit aspects of the role you may have long forgotten ever troubled you.

My advice is to find a mentor and/or offer to be a mentor. It’s a win-win. I have only recently become a mentor but already it’s such a rewarding experience. It’s great to know that I’m helping to guide someone just at the start of their business management career and I can use my experiences and achievements to do that. It’s refreshing to see someone with such enthusiasm for the profession who’s chomping at the bit to make a difference to children’s education.

So far, I’ve supported my mentee in identifying transferable skills and selecting an appropriate qualification level to pursue. We’ve also talked through my personal performance management objectives for this year. Sharing them with my mentee has given her a feel for what can be thrown at you when you’re in post. If I can make the journey from aspiring business professional to practising business professional a smooth transition for just one other person, I will feel I’ve made a valuable contribution.

Is mentoring for you? You never know until you give it a try. Put yourself out there and offer your support.