I quite often qualify my SBM Twitter posts with a variant of “I’m still new to this”. It seems to type itself without me even thinking about it but something unexpected happened recently that made me re-evaluate this assessment of myself.
I got a call from one of the Senior HR officers at my LA and she asked me if I would consider mentoring an SBM from a local school. I was gobsmacked. “Why would she ask me?” She said she thought of me straight away because although I’ve not been in the borough that long I have really good processes and procedures in place. I was really flattered.
Not long after that I got a DM on Twitter with another mentoring request. I’d never communicated with this person before but he said he’d been following me for a while and had been meaning to get in touch. Again I was slightly confused about being approached but pleased nonetheless.
Lastly, a couple of weeks ago, I was involved in the second annual conference of the London Plus Association of School Business Managers. It was a really successful day with lots of great speakers and exhibitors. Following that an aspiring Business Manager (currently working as a Finance Assistant) asked if I would mind mentoring her on her journey to become a Business Manager.
I tweeted about this and got some really supportive and encouraging responses. It was those responses that caused me to step back and look at myself and my reactions to being asked. I had been doing that very British thing of being self deprecating but I’m looking at it from a completely different viewpoint now.
I became an SBM just under 3 years ago but that’s not the beginning of my story. Every SBM has a backstory, every SBM has valuable experiences to be shared and I’m no different. I realised that I can use my experiences as a primary school governor to give guidance. I can use my 14 years working in the LA to impart knowledge. I can use my background in HR to support others.
When I secured my first SBM role I was so worried about all the “unknowns”. How would I know if I was doing the right things at the right time of year? What if I made massive mistakes? I used my contacts to seek out people who would be willing to mentor me and not once did I think about how many years they’d been doing the role. I was just pleased that someone was kind enough to offer me some of their time to help me on my way. I pretty quickly realised that many of what I thought were unknowns actually weren’t that at all. I just happened to have learned them in a different context.
A fellow SBM blogged recently that it’s “about the journey” and that resonated with me somewhat. I’ve been very focused on what I thought was my end game – becoming an awesome Business Manager – but hadn’t paid much attention to the journey. That’s the important part and the part that I intend to make the most of and enjoy. What’s the point of the destination if the journey isn’t enjoyable?
The role of an SBM can be a lonely, isolating one if you let it. Nobody else in the school does the same role as you. Engaging in networks either virtually or otherwise helps with this. The support and advice I get this way is invaluable. Mentoring others will not only help me to support others but will add to my own development. It’s a win win!
It’s not about how long I’ve been in the role but more about how I can translate my experience and knowledge into support for others. If each SBM supports just one other person with one tidbit of advice it will lead to strong community of School Business Professionals that we will all be proud to be part of.
So let’s go forward with the mindset of Each One Teach One! I for one know that all the knowledge I pick up along the way contributes towards me being able to create a better educational opportunity for the children in my school.