In each issue, we introduce you to one of our mentors by telling you about their experience and giving you their answers to 3 questions, to include their own ‘top time-saving tip’.

Jeremy Swainson

Jeremy Swainson

Initially with Oxfam, for the past 25 years, Jeremy has been an owner and senior executive of a range of consultancy businesses working in the international development aid sector. He has held primary responsibility for a range of functions including human resources, sales, quality assurance and finance. Throughout his career, Jeremy has designed and managed grant making facilities ranging from the provision of Oxfam funding to poor communities through grants to NGOs to support their work to risk sharing funding to the private sector. In recent years, as he has stepped back from management, he has devoted time to mentoring colleagues at all levels in the business. Jeremy’s particular expertise is in strategic leadership and organizational development.


1. What do you feel has given you most satisfaction in your career?
The many opportunities to enable colleagues to learn and grow in an atmosphere that encourages their personal and professional development and not be afraid of failure or lose confidence through disappointment.

2. What do you like to do outside of work?
I play lots of tennis, some golf, spend time in the vegetable patch and try to see the family and friends as much as possible. During lockdown, I have also rediscovered the pleasure of long walks exploring the countryside around Oxford, listening to the birdsong amid the silence and watching the natural world getting on with life regardless.

3. What are your ‘top tips’ to balance competing demands on your time?

I keep an old fashioned handwritten To Do List at my elbow, with the important tasks underlined; and continually add to it. At the beginning of each day, I read through the list to remind myself of what needs to be done. I rewrite and update the list every few days.

Another tip is dealing with emails. We often feel compelled to reply instantly, and perhaps moreso now that we are not meeting face-to-face as often. Yet there are times when hasty replies, especially to emails which annoy me or propose something I disagree with, are not the best idea. I have learned not to respond immediately; hasty replies are often misinterpreted, lead to endless back and forth messages and waste a lot of your valuable time.