Harries Coffee – a mentoring partnership story

6 min read

Harrie's an independent, ethical, Sussex-based coffee and coffee machine supplier for discerning cafes, delis, businesses and coffee lovers in general.
Heather Barrie, Managing Director, Harrie's Coffee
Paul Gosling, Relationship Director, Corporate Planning Financial Services Ltd

In one bullet point/sentence can you please explain what you do on a day-to-day basis for someone who knows nothing about your role?

I used to be an accountant, and then I decided to open a coffee business because I always loved connecting people and networking, and doing that over a coffee is always effective. I now own and run a networking café, where I bring people together from all over the country. I then decided to expand this by brining a learning aspect into it, and so now we take business issues and give a platform to three different perspectives on said issue. This way, I’m helping people harness the power of their networks while also giving people a platform to have their perspectives heard.


I am a management accountant by training and so I felt like I could really help Heather by having conversations about what her future is going to look like. The first thing we worked through is helping Heather get used to having a business partner, since she’s so used to leading a business on her own. As such, she began by being a bit distrusting of others and being almost territorial, but we have managed to work through this so that now Heather appreciates the benefits of having new and different skills to her own.


What was your biggest fear ahead of participating in your mentoring relationship and was this experienced?

When I was matched with Paul I worried that he might have been too business-minded, or focused on number-crunching and bringing me back to the bottom line, and that’s not how my brain works best. Within two minutes of meeting Paul, I knew this worry was unfounded. Paul has allowed my creativity to flourish while also keeping me grounded and giving me a clear eye on my business process. Together we’ve managed to get me to change from being an ad hoc worker 7 days a week, to become a 5 day worker through clear organisation. Paul has enabled me to feel confident to continue to pursue the creative aspects of the business, but also to keep the business aspect front of mind. He’s helped me find the perfect balance.


I image everyone faces this anxiety when embarking on a mentoring partnership, but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to offer anything to Heather. But it very quickly became clear that I didn’t need to worry about this. I realised that my extensive business experience meant that I was able to help Heather create the process for her business, even if I didn’t have direct experience in her field. Having said this, without Heather’s creativity and continued energy, I think mentoring would’ve been much more difficult. I have no idea how Moving Ahead match people, but they’ve truly done a great job here.


Harries Coffee

Have your business goals and personal aspirations changed and required you to embrace challenge since starting the programme?

Absolutely. My goal at the beginning of this process was about starting the business; getting it off the ground. Now, my goals are completely different. I’m focusing now on marketing my product more. I used to set goals that my business at the time would’ve never been able to achieve, but since working with Paul I’ve managed to get my business to a stage where I can actually deliver those goals.


My personal goals have definitely changed since embarking on the programme. Mentoring has enabled me to talk more effectively with my team. Communication has become much smoother and has crystallised into a new form. I’ve found that by helping Heather to implement her business goals, it has brought me back down to reality and made me realise the need to change the way I communicate with my team. This has been an invaluable change. Being on the mentoring programme has also made me much more patient. I think from having been realistic with Heather about her own goals, I’ve quickly realised that I have to do the same with my own.


What has been the most surprising part of the Santander Breakthrough Women Business Leaders mentoring programme?

I’ve been so lucky to have Paul as a mentor. I think its amazing the way Santander and Moving Ahead are able to have such a positive impact on people and their businesses, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so impactful. Its been really powerful meeting other business owners on the programme and being able to hear from like-minded people. But, for me the most surprising part of being on this programme has been how it has got me to where I am now and it has taught me true accountability.


I knew it was always going to be a challenge to help a stranger, but I’m so impressed with the way the programme has matched Heather and myself. I feel incredibly lucky to have Heather as a mentee, because it just worked. I’ve also learned that women are much more effective in business than men!


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