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Case study

You’re never too senior or experienced to give something back

“I really couldn’t be more positive about Be the Business”, said Lawrence Davies MBE, former General Motors executive and government adviser, and now a board member and mentor for Be the Business.

“I get a massive amount of satisfaction from knowing that I am able to support a number of companies, by sharing my own experiences and mistakes,” said Lawrence Davies, a Be the Business mentor and board member.

“After 40 years in automotive manufacturing and in government, I felt strongly I wanted to give something back, and it feels like the right time because my industry and government experiences are still fresh.”

Lawrence has a great deal of industry experience to share. He has spent much of his career with General Motors (GM), where he became UK director of purchasing and supply chain. He’s also had nearly a decade in government, most recently as chief adviser in automotive to the Department for International Trade. He was also awarded an MBE for his contribution to the motor industry.

He stepped down from day-to-day involvement in government in 2021, but his ongoing work with the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) led to his involvement in the Be the Business programmes.

After 40 years in automotive manufacturing and in government, I felt strongly I wanted to give something back, and it feels like the right time because my industry and government experiences are still fresh.

Lawrence Davies MBE, former executive at General Motors – board member

A change is as good as a rest

Lawrence currently sits on an advisory board serving two SME businesses and mentors another individual separately.

“The companies couldn’t be more different from each other, but they are all trying to grow their business,” he said. “This is a lovely change for me, and I feel so lucky getting these roles. But the principles of running a large organisation are fundamentally the same for smaller companies.”

He explained: “I talk monthly with each of the three companies, and we discuss their business needs, their growth opportunities and the challenges of running a business – especially with what we have all had to endure over the past two years.”

The benefits go both ways

Lawrence himself is gaining much from the Be the Business experience.

“For one, I get satisfaction out of helping small businesses,” he said. “Money is usually tight, so any mistake they make is costly. I want to help prevent them from making mistakes, or, at least, to minimise them. Secondly, I enjoy being able to help them grow by discussing their longer-term plans, their roadblocks and what I can do in a practical way to help.”

Also, having worked in manufacturing and automotive since he started as an apprentice at the age of 17, Lawrence has found it interesting to learn about other sectors and the pressures small businesses face.

And he’s made new friends and extended his contacts through working with his fellow board members.

“Be the Business does a very good job in putting the boards together,” he said. “There’s diversity, but also relevance to the companies we are working with. If we were all from the same industry we would not be able to give such cross sector support. But we have complementary strengths and perspectives, and as we’ve got to know each other we’ve grown our networks.”

Lawrence continued: “We are very lucky in the UK to have Be the Business, because it is structured in a way that it can help small companies at no cost. And for a board member or mentor, the time commitment is not onerous: I spend a total of around two days a month for all of these three companies.”

He concluded: “I would highly recommend working as a mentor or board member to others. I really couldn’t be more positive about my involvement and experiences over the past year.”

Headline takeaways


  • Our Impact

    My mentor’s experience gave me leadership confidence

  • Our Impact

    My advisory board helped me figure out pricing and scale the business

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  • Our Impact

    I gained different perspectives from people who aren’t in my industry

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