Mentoring helps the Dove Service Chief Executive to fly

Mentor John Capper and Charlie O’Dell, Chief Executive of the Dove Service.

LET’S DO MENTORING CASE STUDY

Stepping up to the challenge of acting Chief Executive can be daunting, but Charlie O’Dell also faced cancer treatment at the same time.
However, Charlie’s determination to succeed led to her seizing the initiative and calling on Let’s Do Mentoring for support.
A year down the line and Charlie has successfully come through chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has been appointed as full Chief Executive of the Dove Service having received mentoring support from highly experienced financial director John Capper.
Based at the Dudson Centre, Hanley, the Dove Service is a charity supporting people of all ages experiencing issues around grief through bereavement, loss or life-changing illness, in North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, South Cheshire and Wirral.
Charlie had enjoyed a successful stint as development manager for the charity but recognised the need to receive support after stepping up to the role of acting Chief Executive.
“I was familiar with the charity and its services, but I felt my understanding of finance, funding and balance sheets was limited,” said Charlie. “The Dove Service is a member of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and this led to me exploring the idea of gaining a mentor who could help me to improve my knowledge of finance and the terminology used.”
John added: “When I first met Charlie, she felt she wasn’t up to speed on some areas surrounding charity finance. The previous Chief Executive had been a qualified accountant and Charlie felt she needed to boost her understanding. In fact, Charlie had a good understanding of how to read a balance sheet and only needed reassurance about the terminology. Therefore, the mentoring progressed quickly and I became a sounding board across areas including fundraising, reserves, risk planning, contingency planning and employing and developing staff.
“During this time, it is no secret that Charlie suffered a cancer diagnosis and I have been immensely impressed by her determination to get on with her job and push forward while also undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments.
“She always found time for our meetings and there was not one day when Charlie was not up beat and ready for the challenge to push the Dove Service forward.
“A mentors’ role is to use their business experience to put something back and to help an organisation, whether that is a business or a charity. Part of that is an ability to sit and listen and this leads on to helping to identify challenges and then encouraging the mentee in looking for answers and opportunities.”
Charlie added: “It can be very easy to become insular within an organisation but having a mentor helped me to challenge my thinking and look at our processes with the help of outside eyes. It is no secret that the funding picture is tougher than it has been for many years and there’s an increasing need to look at matters such as fundraising. The Dove Service is partly funded Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffs CCGs amongst other funders, but we have to meet the ongoing challenge of raising funds from other sources.”
Now the Dove Service is looking to bolster its Board and is appealing for people to consider becoming Trustees so as to “put something back” by offering their skills in voluntary capacity.
Said Charlie: “We have a proactive Board, but we do need to grow it. Anyone who thinks they can help the Dove Service to set and achieve its goals should contact me please by calling 01782 683155.”
For further information on the Let’s Do Mentoring scheme please contact Ann Steele at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. Email ann.steele@staffordshirechambers.co.uk.

Outcomes:
Preparing the Dove Service for success by:
• Supporting a new Chief Executive in financial planning
• Policy development
• Building resilience and exploring income generation
• Bringing new ideas and skills through trustee recruitment