February 8, 2024
At tp bennett, we believe strongly in giving the opportunity for all voices to be heard and actively challenge the status quo.
Tasked with Imagining Better, we have developed Twelve; a mutual-mentoring programme that encourages debate and discourse between our Board and their 12 staff mentors, our disrupters, who have been given the platform to influence our future.
“Twelve is all about diversity of thought and allows for new and alternative ways of thinking; problem solving from a different perspective,” says Head of People & Culture Lisa Delaney, “we have empowered the Twelve to question and influence, be active voices within the practice.”
As a result, Twelve is a mutual-mentoring initiative, where 12 successful applicants from across the business have been matched with 12 Board Members across our six strategic imperatives: brand, client, design, finance, people and sustainability. We’ve matched pairs of people who would not ordinarily work on projects together. The programme runs for 18 months, with interim check-ins and reviews to collect feedback from across the pairs. The result is individuals with different life experiences connecting and learning from each other which paves the way for an exciting future for the practice.
We asked each Twelve pair to conduct a two-way interview to find out what they both hope to achieve from being part of the programme. First up is Senior Interior Designer, Max Ansell-Wood who sits in the ‘People’ imperative and Principal Director, Yvette Hanson
QUESTIONS FROM YVETTE
Q: What interested you in applying for Twelve?
Max: I started my career at tp bennett straight out of university, six years ago. I love this company but I’m aware that I’ve had a particular experience – seeing how the practice has changed and adapted since pre-Covid, through the pandemic and now. I’ve played an active role in many of the community-focused groups at tp bennett, each offering something slightly different: from organising seminars on mental health; to social events that get people involved and help to bring others into the company’s culture. I therefore felt like I would be well-placed to bring the voice of the younger staff to account to make sure that decisions are not just top-down but also bottom-up.
Q: Why did you choose the “People” strategic imperative?
Max: I’ve always had an interest in getting involved with things that bridge together personal and professional development. We are a big company full of amazing people with different needs, insights and experiences. I’ve benefited myself from the mentorship of senior staff who have taught me confidence and supported my development, and equally from my peers with whom I have grown since joining tp bennett. I want to make sure that everybody here is having a positive experience and that their voices are heard and recognised by the senior team. I strongly believe that none of the other imperatives can achieve their full potential without the success of ‘People’.
Q: What will you bring to the role?
Max: My experience with external organisations, such as the Outward Bound Trust, has given me knowledge that I can bring into this programme as a bridge between teacher or mentor and peer or colleague. I also recently helped to set up the junior mentoring programme to ensure that new staff joining the business are consistently supported and given guidance to help them discover and nurture their own individual strengths. I see myself as a facilitator between the different working studios and this is something that will help me to succeed with this challenge.
Q: And what do you personally hope to get out of it?
Max: tp bennett is a great company. I want to be part of making this a place where people want to stay for the long haul because everything you could want is at our fingertips. I’m also interested in the opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of how the company works and being an active participant in its future success.
QUESTIONS FROM MAX
Q: How has the company evolved since pre-covid in terms of the company culture?
Yvette: I’ve always considered tp bennett to have a great company culture with a good work-life balance. Since the pandemic, with the evolution of hybrid working, the biggest challenge has been how to encapsulate our culture and adapt it to the new normal. During the initial lockdown we kept connected through regular one-to-one virtual coffees, studio group chats, weekly updates and more social virtual evening events to bring us together and break up the monotony of working from home. Some of these new rituals, which we might never have implemented previously, have remained a key part of our studio culture.
Q: What do you hope to see from this process of reviewing our strategic priorities?
Yvette: As Principals, we’ve historically set the strategic direction of the business. But more recently we’ve been having much wider conversations across the practice about our strategic priorities and it became clear that we could achieve so much more if we gained the expertise of people we might not normally turn to. Personally, I always enjoy speaking to and learning from people at all levels across the business, particularly those I don’t work with every day because they have such a different perspective on priorities. Talking to Max since the launch of Twelve is both informative and enjoyable, pushing me and the business to think and act differently.
Q: Where can this take tp bennett in five years’ time?
Yvette: We’re a big practice but we need to stay agile and adapt to a constantly changing world to continue to be seen as a strategic partner and game-changer. We want to go from strength to strength but also expand into new markets and new areas across the globe while still being a business where everyone can flourish and feel they can really make a positive contribution. I think a programme like Twelve, which empowers our more junior staff to take part in top-level strategy, can only be a positive step towards achieving that goal.