Kelly Oliver Dougall has made a career out of helping other people. A qualified humanistic counsellor, she provides careers advice to workers at risk of redundancy, helping them to learn new skills, brush up on their interview technique, improve their CVs and boost their confidence.
Even those who are in the caring profession need a helping hand once in a while – so Kelly signed up for the Captured scheme in a bid to find ways of improving the business she launched in November 2014, Cygnet Careers in North Shields. Captured pairs small business owners with experienced managers from large regional firms and facilitators at Newcastle University Business School matched her with Paul Davison, MD of the Trenching, Mining and Renewables division at Wallsend subsea robotics manufacturer Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD). The move has paid dividends with Kelly, who has extensive experience in the voluntary sector, benefiting from his vast knowledge, experience and network of contacts.
She said: “Due to my career background I’m not used to selling my services in the commercial arena. That’s where Paul has been such a great help. He has helped me to identify potential income streams, define my business offer and build my confidence.
“The best thing about his support is that he asks me questions that I haven’t really considered before in any real depth. What’s my unique selling point, which customer groups should I be targeting and how do I go about marketing my business? They’re all fairly obvious when you think about it but sometimes it takes someone else to tease that information out of you.”
Paul’s assistance has helped Kelly to win new work from several individuals as well as a large employer in the area. She has also received assistance from staff at Newcastle University Business School, who have put her in touch with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) growth hub, an online business support portal where companies can share common issues, challenges and successes with each other through community forums and a comprehensive directory of support.
As she grows her business, Kelly can also draw on her own expensive experience and contacts in the caring, training and voluntary sectors. Before launching Cygnet she was chair of North Shields area PETE (Partnership for Education, Training and Employment) where she worked with partner organisations to share good practice and resources to benefit local people looking to change their employment or re-enter the workplace after a break. Before that she worked on another multi-partner scheme, Changing Lives, where she set up social interest groups to prevent and reduce social isolation for people with brain injuries and other neurological conditions.
A former counsellor for the NHS, Kelly has also worked as an employment advice and support worker for the Age UK North Tyneside charity.
Kelly has been a great ambassador for the Captured programme, recommending it to many of her wide network of fellow small business owners.
For further information on Cygnet Careers, visit http://cygnetcareers.com/.