Today I spoke with Bob Melling, our very own Research Lead and Preston North End enthusiast. Bob and I began our Mondrem journeys on the same foot, both stepping in as ‘Content Creators’. Since our first day, we’ve been able to shape our roles to fit with the things we love, working closely together to tell Mondrem’s good news. As Bob’s interning contract comes to an end, he tells me how Mondrem has resonated with him, and why that’s inspired him to stay with us beyond those introductory weeks.
“It was a strange start. I got a call to say I’d been offered a job, but it wasn’t the role I applied for, I think the phrase that Mike used was that he ‘didn’t want to let me go’. The idea was to manufacture a role to fit around me”.
“From the start, I knew that I was becoming part of a much bigger picture”, Bob explains. “The interview process wasn’t a conventional one, but was a two-way conversation where we learned about each other”.
He shares a memorable moment.
“My CV includes a link to a portfolio of all the blogs and podcasts that I’ve had a hand in creating. In there, there’s a blog about the time I met Mark Lawrenson, and it was one of the first things Mike asked me about. I was stunted almost, I felt so at ease and it really reinforced Mondrem’s ideas of employing people for who they are individually. It was a moment of ‘oh, you’ve done your research into me too!’”
These reflections of the team’s genuine interest in Bob as a person as well as his expertise were repeated throughout our conversation, showing that bringing kindness to work really does make a difference.
Describing researching as his ‘bread and butter’ (I’ve learned that butter is spreadable gold to a Lancashire man), Bob has spent the last three years diving into archives, books and journals as a history graduate from Keele University. With this in mind, its easy to see how Bob’s researcher role came to be.
“I’m naturally an inquisitive person. I like being handed more obscure tasks like looking into the history of the Mondrem Forest and researching Mike’s great-uncle Eddie. The role I have fits perfectly with my own areas of interest”.
Bob goes on to tell me an amusing anecdote about his school days, where he’d often be told off for being too encyclopaedic.
“I was often told to ‘put the thesaurus down’, but from a very young age I’ve loved writing and words. I think studying history has reflected that. My degree was incredibly research and writing heavy, but I didn’t mind”.
As a budding journalist, Bob chose to study history to stand out to potential employers. In what spare time he had left between Tuesday nights spent under the floodlights of Deepdale, late nights with his head buried in textbooks and Contesting in Blackpool Winter Gardens with his Brass Band (and more reluctantly playing carols in a local bowling club), Bob wanted to share his true love with the world.
“I set up a website dedicated to Preston North End F.C., with a view to becoming a journalist but Mondrem made me realise that my passion for writing can be utilised in so many ways. They’ve helped to shape my perspective of the future”.
Job spec aside, Bob tells me that the reasons he wants to stay with Mondrem post-internship are numerous and diverse. He describes his final few months of university like a lost lamb, having finalised a degree with no plans for postgraduate study or a distinctive direction for a job. During that time, Mondrem presented itself and helped to answer that burning question of ‘what’s next?’.
“From the initial ‘get-to-know’ days, I had an immediate desire to stay with Mondrem longer than the initially planned, short-term internship”.
“I was so inspired by the support and honesty throughout the team, and the drive to ‘reimagine the unimaginable’. That first-hand experience of bettering wellbeing, it’s almost like a warm, fuzzy feeling when you stand back and look at the impact we have”Bob Melling
Bob explains to me that having a tangible impact on public servants is what motivates him to come to work. Moving towards client project work in his new, permanent role, he tells me that the overwhelming transformations that clients make is a real inspirational and motivating factor.
“Ultimately, I want to make a difference, and see the real-life impact of my work. As I’m moving towards client project delivery, I’m beginning to see that evermore clearly”.
His passion for bettering our public services stems from his family’s experience using public service support, with outstanding results.
“I want to contribute to the success of local authorities through the work I do, public services shouldn’t be frustrating”. I’ve witnessed public services being delivered effectively and they’ve been life changing. But I’ve seen both the good and bad, which motivates me to get them right every time. Public services can’t be trivialised – so much rests on the decisions that they make”.
While it’s evident that the goals and results which the Mondrem team help services to deliver had an influence on his desire to stay, Bob explains that the personal values across the team resonate with him on a deeper level too.
“When we started at Mondrem, the team consisted of just Mike and Lucy, and we’ve watched it grow with people whose motivations and visions fit together”.
He tells me that he finds having a team of people who ‘fit in the Mondrem puzzle’ has helped him feel instantly welcomed into the team, and overwhelmed by the amount of support he’s received.
“When approaching tasks, there was consistent positive feedback, which was a real confidence boost. I remember when Mike told me he was ‘proud of the way I’d represented Mondrem’. To hear that from the Director of the company was amazing, it’ll definitely stick with me”.
One notable example references the latest development in Bob’s role, incorporating client project work from Lucy as his hours and experience increase.
“I attended my first Client Team Meeting with Dacorum Council as the ‘task manager’ for the meeting and I was so nervous about recording all the information and presenting it back to the team. Mike and Lucy made sure I was well prepared and well briefed. I received so much support which helped my confidence grow”.
“Management consultants’ have connotations of being corporate and unfeeling- that couldn’t be further from my experience. Mondrem’s keystones had a massive bearing on why I stayed. It’s the whole team, there’s kindness and support everywhere”Bob Melling
This demonstration of genuine care and interest inspired Bob to stay with Mondrem. From a belief in the public service system, to inspiring hope, to nurturing our team and community, Bob’s beliefs align with those of Mondrem, shaping him as a perfect piece of the puzzle.
“People inside public bodies need to be cared for just as much as those who rely on them. There will always be pressure across public services but reducing stress and helping staff enjoy work a bit more is something I can really get behind”.
“I like to think that I’m a kind, empathetic and supportive person, and now the work that I’m doing fits with me as an individual, as well as my area of expertise. I’d like to thank Mike for the initial opportunity, but also thank you to the team for the support, helping me to feel successful and valued right from the beginning”.
As Bob continues on his Mondrem journey, it’s safe to say that we’re equally excited to have him back.
“Bob seemed to ‘tap into’ the Mondrem ethos so quickly. The research on the history of Mondrem that he did gave us such a boost at a time when we really needed it. We’ve taken the inspiration for our Birdsong meetings straight from his writing and they are at the heart of everything we do”Lucy Gibbs, Client Projects Lead
As a Mondrem chaunt reads ‘Bring kindness to work. Help others to shine. Their brilliance will light your life.’, it’s clear that as the team grows in numbers, our individual brilliance is beginning to pave the way for our next steps too.