Colin Donald talks to Jeanette Forbes about her work for the Scottish Chambers Mentoring Programme.
The oil price slump is playing havoc with her main home market. She has to take calls from clients in all time zones at all hours of the night. She is fighting to build a sustainable business to hand on to the next generation. And still, Jeanette Forbes devotes hours of her time to mentor growing businesses.
You have to ask: Why?
Under the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Mentoring Programme, the multi award-winning chief executive of Aberdeen-based ICT services company PCL is currently acting as guide and confidante to no fewer than seven companies, from hair dressers to engineers to chiropractors and bar and restaurant owners.
But with working days that regularly start at 5am and find her still at her desk at 10pm at night, she isn’t exactly looking for ways to fill her time. Nor is she looking for boxes to tick to show good corporate citizenship. Far from it. Having made time for mentoring, she takes it extremely seriously. Meetings with her are “not just a chat over coffee” but rigorous two-hour sessions, in which “mentees” are expected to arrive fully prepared to make the most of the joint investment of time.
Aberdeen businesswoman Jeanette Forbes said yesterday that the race to get more women into board rooms around Scotland was far from run.
Ms Forbes, Chief Executive of Aberdeen-based energy sector IT firm PCL Group, added that progress was being made but more could be achieved if women’s groups pulled in the same direction.
She was speaking on the same day a group of Scottish businesswomen from a range of industries gathered in Edinburgh to discuss ways of encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs.
The round table was the latest initiative from the Scotland Office to tackle boardroom discrimination.
In 2014, then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael launched a UK Government-commissioned review of the role of women in the country’s economy.
Sixty primary school pupils from Aberdeen, who have been taking part in a four-month programme to learn about dance and its wider benefits, will have the chance to see how it all comes together on stage when they attend Scottish Ballet’s performance of Cinderella at HM Theatre this week, thanks to funding support from PCL Group.
The theatre visit is the culmination of two unique residencies delivered by Scottish Ballet at Walker Road and Kaimhill primary schools in association with local trusts.
The residencies saw the company’s Education Officer Miriam Early and musician Adam Stearns work with two groups of 7-11 year old pupils at each school to give them the opportunity to experience dance and music at first hand, to improve their understanding and appreciation of dance as an art form and to learn how it ties in with other aspects of their lives.
The pupils and their teachers were also provided with resources and cross-curricular class and activity plans to help them develop literacy, art and design skills and which highlighted health and wellbeing. They worked through a series of tasks individually and in groups, working collectively to contribute ideas which culminated in a performance which they organised for other pupils.
It’s still a man’s world in oil and gas sector
Oil and gas firms are missing out on the benefits of diversity, with participation of women in the work force lagging behind other major industries, a report says.
The study – The Future of Jobs – was published to inform political and business leaders at this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. It highlights a total absence of women in chief executive roles among global oil companies and says only 11% of senior executives are female.
The report also highlights a 32% “gender pay gap” in the industry despite efforts to create more opportunities for women.
Gender imbalances in oil and gas and other industries were in the spotlight at a session on the future of work in Davos, where Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told participants “men still run the world – and I’m not sure it’s going that well”.
She added: “It means we’re not using the full talent of the population.”
Residents in a sheltered housing complex enjoyed an early Christmas dinner thanks to an IT company.
PCL Group treated all 60 people who live at Mark Bush Court in Aberdeen to the festive supper. And the firm drafted in a chef from Inn at the Park on Aberdeen’s Deemount Terrace and PCL Group staff turned their skills to waiting tables. Turkey with all the trimmings was the order of the day. And some of Santa’s little helpers even turned up to hand out small gifts to all the residents.
Jeanette Forbes, chief executive of PCL Group, said: “We support a number of charities and charitable events throughout the year. “At this time of year in particular though it is good to get involved in the community. “The whole staff team got behind the idea and turned up in force to serve the lunches and some brought their children dressed as elves to hand out gifts.”