Thrive Spotlight – Sandra Flanagan, director of Maynard Training and Consulting

It was just last year that Sandra Flanagan left her role as deputy CEO of mental health charity Norwich MIND to set up her own consultancy. Her mission is to teach companies how taking care of their employees wellbeing has huge benefits to the business as a whole. It’s been a big leap of faith but Sandra is now working across the country with all kinds of different professionals. Here she tells us about striking out on her own, how Thrive keeps her sane and her passion for fashion.

Thrive: Hi Sandra, can you give us your business pitch?

Sandra: I provide training and consultancy to companies on issues of mental wellbeing. My work is about winning them over to adapt a more ethical culture within their management systems. I show them the benefits to the business – improved performance, less sickness and a higher retention of staff, etc. People don’t leave if they are well looked after so it’s a win/win. I also offer support to managers on how to ask difficult questions about mental wellbeing and managing change in an organisation.

Thrive: Can you describe your business style?

I’m very holistic. It’s really important to build a relationship with people when you are doing any kind of training or workshop. So I’m kind, but I am also determined to get the message over. Recently I did some work with a high-level board, and I thought, ‘I can’t hold back here. I have to tell them like it is!’ But I like to do that in a way that doesn’t offend or upset people.

Thrive: Do you find that people can be a bit resistant to what you are teaching them?

Sometimes. One of my training programmes is about how you can’t always remove the work stress but you can learn to be more resilient and look after yourself. That’s your responsibility. I just did ten sessions with an organisation and that was very interesting. At times, they were quite hostile to me, but I coped!

Thrive: How did you first get involved with Thrive?

Lorna wrote to me when I was working at MIND and invited me to come along. Each Thrive group has a charity representative in the mix. When I first started networking at Thrive, Norwich MIND was going through quite a difficult time and I was unofficially trying to raise our profile. People think of national MIND but not the local associations. That affects awareness and it was a problem with fundraising too. That was around five years ago but now Norwich MIND is pretty high profile.

Thrive: What appeals to you about the Thrive approach to networking?

Thrive is very community minded. I think our group reflects the Norfolk community. It’s not a heavy approach, either. I think you can walk into any Thrive meeting and feel comfortable and welcome. There is a great camaraderie there and I’ve found that great for me now I’ve started my own business. To have that whole group of people means I don’t feel isolated. It’s been an anchor for me because you can have a rubbish week and then you go in on Friday morning and you come out feeling refreshed and with the determination to carry on.

Thrive: If you weren’t in your business, where would you like to make a splash?

I’d love to be a journalist because I love writing. Ideally, I’d like to write for the Independent and offer a birds-eye view of politics and the system we live in. The other thing I’d like to write about is style! Very often I think true style is about being adventurous and ambitious, and disregarding all that’s in fashion. So I’d be a bit off-the-wall, a bit Zandra Rhodes-y. I’d just love that.

Kate White
Front Page Media

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