We are very pleased to announce Saira Majid is our May Hero of the Month (and Mosaic Mentor of the Year 2013). Busy Chartered Accountant and mum-of-three Saira has mentored two teams to the final of Enterprise Challenge; this year Beechwood School from Slough came an impressive 2nd overall.
South East Regional Manager Punam Kharbanda said: “We really can’t express just how grateful we are to Saira. She juggles a busy and successful career with being mum to three children and she gives her time and experience so generously to those she mentors. It is a real achievement to have mentored two teams, for two consecutive years, to the final of Enterprise Challenge and Saira should be very proud.” Thank you Saira!
How long have you been volunteering as a Mosaic mentor for?
I have been volunteering as a Mosaic Mentor for since September 2011.
What motivated you to want to become a mentor?
I know to say “ I wanted to give back to society” is a bit of a cliché, but I honestly feel it is true in my case. My father had recently died, and I was a bit lost emotionally, at first the mentoring was a distraction from my own bereavement, then it became a source of healing for me.
I wanted to work with teenagers, especially on the Enterprise Challenge. Business is my passion in life and I want young people to know that they have a third viable option when they leave school, and that is to start their own business. Unlike employment and further education, entrepreneurship is not emphasised enough in schools.
Please tell us about a particular rewarding or special experience you have had as a mentor
In both 2012, and 2013, for two years running I have managed to mentor a team to the Enterprise Challenge finals. Last year it was Wexham School and this year it was Beechwood School, who came second overall. Watching my mentees, get up on stage and preform their business pitch to a live audience, has me on the edge of my seat, it makes me feel proud of these young people as even adults would find this task a tall order.
When I took a team from Beechwood school to the finals, one boy on my team said “Miss I have never been to London before, but I have seen all these buildings on TV” I was shocked as this boy only lived in Slough, 30 mins drive from the city. It made me realise how lucky and privileged I was to be there with him, and what a memorable day it must have been for him, and for me as we met HRH Prince Charles and Princess Badiya. After that winning didn’t matter anymore, I just knew this young lad had an amazing day, who knows what kind of family background he had and why his parents never took him to London ? It made me remember why I became a mentor.
What have you found challenging about mentoring?
I have to give up time from my busy schedule for this cause, sometimes I have to pay for childcare for my own children so that I can attend a mentoring session, and I have blocked out times from my diary just for mentoring, so I am not actually earning any money that day from my own business, but I don’t mind as I love being a Mosaic Mentor.
I think the most challenging part for me was during the group mentoring at Baylis School for Girls. I was with group of girls who were extremely disengaged, cocky and rude. I wanted to run out of the door and never come back! But I rose to the challenge and went back week after week, and worked hard alongside other mentors to try and inspire these girls. By the end of term I am proud to say there was a breakthrough; the girls were enjoying our sessions and told us they had learnt a lot. A couple of them actually decided they were going to work hard and “be” something in life. It made it all worthwhile.
And what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I am a Chartered Accountant and I run my own accountancy firm. I also currently have a contract with Slough Borough Council as a Community Business Advisor. I am also a mum to 3 children.
Would you recommend being a Mosaic mentor to others?
Definitely ! Mentoring is so rewarding and working with young people is so inspiring, you will learn about them and about yourself!
What makes a good mentor?
Someone who is willing to listen to the kids, inspire them with personal stories, and get on their wave length rather than talk “down” to them. I could be their mum or auntie; I am not that different from these kids. I wasn’t a grade A student, or from an affluent family background but I have worked very hard in life to achieve my qualifications, worked hard in the corporate world and then gone on to running my own business, I want them to know if I can do it, so can they !
Would you like to be a mentor like Saira? We are recruiting more mentors across the UK and we would love to hear from you. Find out more about how you can get involved.