Like a lot of the mentors on the Scottish Business Mentoring, Anne Iravani is unwilling to see the accumulated wisdom of an international business career go unused. When an old friend sought advice on her woodland cemetery, unfamiliarity with the burials business was no barrier to her lending a hand.
Having started her first business back in the 1980s, Anne has worked in the technology sector with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) from Bulgaria to Geneva to London, and currently is supporting a family gin company after having run the Aberdeen Gin Festival. She is an experienced business advisor whose own company Business Plus Scotland, which she ran for 25 years specialised in business development, market research and event management.
Mentoring is a passion as she “loves helping other people in business.”
“They are not all new starts or young people, and they are in all kinds of different sectors. Whatever business you are in, a mentor is often the only person you can speak to confidentially about what is happening, good and bad.”
For Anne Iravani, mentoring is not a one-way street: “I’m interested in people and there’s a lot I can learn myself. The people I mentor have all got where they’ve got to for a reason, I’m interested in how they turn negatives to positives.”
Some of her mentees are highly experienced business people who, like herself, have “seen it all and done it all”.
Others, like Fiona Rankin of Clovery Woods of Rest, are less experienced. A personal acquaintance (from the same village in this case), Fiona was looking for more fundamental advice such as: “How do I let the world know that my business exists and what it does”?
Clovery Woods of Rest is an eco-friendly 15-acre woodland burial ground near Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, started in 2002 by Fiona’s late husband. It offers a final resting place for people who do not wish to be cremated, who wish to be buried with a partner of a different religion, or who prefer not to be buried in a religious or municipal setting.
Although the business has an excellent reputation and is the only one of its type in Northeast Scotland, it has trouble attracting attention.
“Marketing is the biggest problem”. Getting the word out about what we’re about. We have tried various things, but even if you speak to people who live only 10 miles away they have never heard of us. Also, people in this part of Scotland are quite conservative, and a woodland burial ground is not something they are used to!”
Fiona describes her meetings with Anne Iravani: “We had about 6 meetings. I’ve known Anne for a long time and told her about our concerns. One is that the undertaking profession is not all that helpful to us, as it’s a long way for them to come out from Aberdeen.”
“As I don’t have the big budget you would need for TV advertising, Anne strongly recommended networking which I admit I find difficult, not least because my line of work can be a bit of a conversation stopper. She advised me to have my website looked at again, and I started a Facebook page and have spoken at Rotary Clubs.”
“Anne has been very supportive and has helped with ideas like a candlelight service we had before Christmas, she was helpful with telling me how to go about it.
“I’d definitely recommend mentoring, its someone to speak to about your general worries who isn’t involved and doesn’t have an axe to grind.”