ABOUT THE COMPANY
My Leadership Strengths was set up by Andy Jenkins, his wife Hollie Jenkins and friend Andy Hoggan. The Leeds company started out as a consultancy business, but with the support of AD:VENTURE has developed into more of a tech company offering a unique product – and with a very exciting future ahead!
Andy Jenkins has 20 years’ experience as a senior leader and consultant across the public and private sector in both the UK and Australia. His previous roles include working for HBOS and Australia Post.
In 2018 he returned to the UK from Australia and, with his two colleagues, started targeting care sector companies offering leadership 360 assessments, partly because Andy Hoggan had experience of that sector in Australia. The offer was later widened to include the health sector.
When Andy Jenkins initially started working with AD:VENTURE it was with a view to growing the consultancy side of the business and working with more clients in the care and health sectors.
“We knew that many providers in the care sector needed help because we could see from their formal inspection reports by the Care Quality Commission that those who received poor ratings overall typically had a poor leadership rating. Add to that Andy’s experience and it seemed an obvious area to target,” said Andy Jenkins.
In August 2019 Andy turned to AD:VENTURE for help and was put in touch with Alan Thompson. Initially they looked at the basics of running the business and the company.
Andy then applied and was accepted on to the Accelerate programme, which is a six-month acceleration programme for ambitious businesses based in the Leeds City Region, and is part of AD:VENTURE. The Accelerate programme is a series of masterclasses and one-to-one support.
The initial support helped the company gain clients for their 360 assessment tool, but Andy’s involvement with Accelerate led to so much more.
The lockdown hit about half-way through the Accelerate course, but the support carried on.
“Lockdown didn’t stop the one-to-one sessions with my mentor Stephanie Dawson. We just switched to Zoom and she continued to give me really insightful advice and motivation,” said Andy.
“It would have been easy to put everything on ice, but the real benefit of having a mentor is they help you focus, or re-focus, which is what I did.”
Working with Stephanie, Andy identified that there were opportunities in other sectors too and so what was initially called Developing Leaders in Health became My Leadership Strengths.
But the biggest break-through in the development of the business was serendipitous – all thanks to AD:VENTURE once again.
Andy approached another company who were also on the Accelerate programme to ask if they could develop a simple survey for their website.
The company, Leeds-based Made by Studio, suggested Andy apply for a grant from AD:VENTURE to develop something a bit more sophisticated.
A £5,000 match-funded grant from AD:VENTURE meant Andy and his colleagues could develop something they call Quick Prioritisation Tool; a web-based survey app which individuals can use to assess their strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
The app is easy to use; it is a straightforward survey taking just 10 minutes, and easy to understand the results too, with no need for a formal debrief. It can help individuals and organisations see gaps and training needs.
“It really is a game changer for us,” said Andy. “No-one else is offering something quite like this; it’s a tool that can be used by anyone. It is particularly useful for new leaders; for example, a nurse who is promoted to a supervisory role in a care home setting.”
So far My Leadership Strengths have tested the app out on leaders in Australia and the US and are looking for an organisation in the UK to carry out a full trial.
Now the company has effectively become a tech business, they are hosting a session on leadership at the Leeds Digital Festival.
“The Accelerate masterclasses we had through Leeds Beckett University were really useful. They were presented by university lecturers and were full of useful tools and ideas. For example, one where we looked at how do you price your offer,” said Andy.
“And you also meet other like-minded start-ups at the sessions. That’s how I met Made by Studio and that’s what led to us collaborating.
“With AD:VENTURE you get the content of the sessions, but you also get the connections with other entrepreneurs and the tailored business support, which challenges you and makes you focus. And for me it also gave me more confidence.
“AD:VENTURE has really helped me transform the business. We started out as a consultancy and are now also a tech company with many more ways to provide value to clients.”