A day in the life of Debbie Sheldon

23rd May 2018

Work Avenue CEO Debbie Sheldon tells us about a busy day in her working life.

7:30 – Unless the weather is really bad, I walk to work and I really enjoy this part of the day.  I have 30 minutes to think and prepare for the day ahead and any immediate issues I have to deal with.  It also gives me the time to think about longer term planning, which is invaluable.

8.45 – I like to have an early morning catch up with our resident business members while the Wohl Enterprise Hub is still fairly quiet.  I learn a lot from their opinions and hopefully am able to provide some insights and recommendations into some of their pressing issues regarding their businesses

9.30 – Every Tuesday we have our staff team meeting.  This is a really important part of the week where I update my colleagues on organisational issues they may not be aware of.  We are a small team, a number of whom are part time, and as well as the imparting of information and seeking input from my team, this is vital for team building and engagement.

10.30 – There was an employment workshop running today focusing on interview skills.  This workshop, as well as being informative and really helpful to clients who have an interview coming up, is actually great fun.  I looked into the workshop and observed sixteen clients role-playing an interview scenario, and observed how their confidence started to increase as they gained greater insights into what the interviewer was actually asking with each question, and how to respond more smartly to create a more positive impression.

11am – Together with one of our business start-up advisers, I met with one of our entrepreneurial business members.  This business provides web and app development services. We discuss the business’s USP and what steps we can take to lead to further business and account development.  It was really encouraging to hear how the business is developing and how the owner is thriving on running his business out of WE Hub.  He particularly found the input from fellow entrepreneurs useful and said it is really supportive to be able to chew the fat with them about obstacles he faces in his own business.  He did, however, ask for some additional support with financial modelling, and my business adviser set up a separate meeting with him to work on this.

12pm – We are very busy with the preparations for our Charity Central recruitment fair taking place on 17th October 2018.  This will be a chance for anyone wishing to work within the charity sector and allowing them the opportunity to engage with all the major charities within our community.  We have already had sign ups from delegates and charities including JW3, Norwood and Camp Simcha.  I know it will be an inspiring day and show how much difference our clients looking for work can make to the community. I needed to take time with the team to ensure that we have everything in place for the event.

1pm – I took time to review applicants who had applied to our loan fund, in partnership with the Max Barney Foundation, together with my colleagues.  We have had a number of applications for loans to help our clients with their business development and three applications for tuition loans for clients embarking on courses of study after the summer.  It is a privilege to be able to be in our position to empower people to take the next step towards earning a living, be it through their business growth or through studying something new to allow them to develop their careers.

2pm – One of the most popular services we are able to offer to our start-up businesses is the provision of an experienced mentor, one who has had experience themselves of that industry.  An effective mentor can make a really positive contribution to a developing business, supporting and guiding the mentee, helping to develop networks and business focused strengths.  The mentee really benefits from the guiding influence and insights of a person who has done it all before, and we observe many improvements in the self confidence and self-esteem of the mentee.  I had a meeting scheduled with one of our long-standing mentors to consider a new business that we would like him to engage with.

3pm – I joined my employment team in one of their client catch up meetings.  The employment team have regular catch ups to discuss new vacancies on our jobs board and which of our clients might suit the demands of each of our active vacancies.  Each client really is an individual to us, with their own skills, qualifications, experiences and working preferences, and we work hard to consider a dedicated developmental pathway for each one so they are able to move closer towards their aim of employment.  Each month, we place between 5 and 10 people directly in work from our own jobs board, not to mention the countless others who are able to secure employment as a result of the individual approaches that we take.  These meetings are an essential part of that process.

4pm – I received a call from one of trustees who was keen to discuss fundraising.  The responsibility to ensure our continued sustainability so we can continue to offer our services to people seeking employment and entrepreneurs who are starting a business, never leaves me.  She had some really sound ideas, and I made a note to add this to the agenda for the next trustee meeting.

5pm – I finally returned to my desk to catch up on emails and deal with general administration.  I always have a very full inbox with so many varied issues to consider.  I often reflect on how far we have come since Work Avenue started 12 years ago with one desk and one chair in a small dark office.  We now manage the wonderful Wohl Enterprise Hub with its state of the art shared workspace for businesses and entrepreneurs, and where we offer our employment and business services to over 2000 individuals each year.  It is a huge responsibility and one that I do not undertake lightly, but in truth, I love every minute.  Every time I see a client gain self-esteem and confidence so they can secure employment, or a fledging business get off the ground with purpose and drive, I see another person who can now provide for themselves and their family, thus making our community more robust with a strong future ahead.  I am reminded of this objective each and every day I come to work.