On 22nd November, the Women of the MBA Group and their guests came together to explore the importance of mentoring and how both mentoring and networking can be crucial to career development. The group were delighted to welcome speakers Irial O’ Farrell, Evolution Consulting & Mary Cronin, Thousand Seeds.
We heard how mentoring is a two way relationship, and that we all need someone to inspire us to do better than what we know. An interesting statistic shared at the event from a WXN survey was that 91% consider mentoring critical to career advancement. Irial advised us on the benefits of having a sponsor that is not our line manager. We should develop relationships with people outside of our own function or department, who will promote and recommend us and introduce us to their network. Hearing stories from Irial and Mary on how mentors have helped them get where they are today left us in no doubt of the importance of mentors and sponsors. Attendees, both male and female included current students, recent graduates and more experienced graduates of the MBA programme. Those of us in more senior positions were reminded by Kevin Spacey that “if you are lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down!”
The focused networking session had us at different times interacting with one another, sketching like Van Gogh and sipping on wine by the roaring fire! We were reminded to attend networking events with a plan and a goal, even when sometimes that goal may not be clear. If you don’t know what you are looking for it is harder to find! And during those awkward initial conversations, be interested before you are interesting!
We were left with the final words from Mary; “It is not the mountain we need to conquer, but ourselves”. In today’s world with all the noise and potential burnout, we need to decouple the chaos, challenge our self-limiting beliefs and trust ourselves. We can make the most of ourselves by believing in those tiny inner sparks of possibility and turning them into flames of achievement.
This year Katharine Slattery, the Director of Peer Mentoring Resources was delighted to be involved in co-ordinating the inaugural MBA Mentoring Programme in conjunction with the MBA Careers Manager. Through this mentoring programme, the full-time MBA students were given the opportunity to meet with professionals who have completed the MBA and have the benefit of hindsight and experience in making the often-challenging transition to ‘real-world’ industry and entrepreneurship. Thirty-five MBA alumni volunteered to take on the role of a mentor for a full-time MBA student and mentors were matched with mentees who had common career interests and/or professional backgrounds. Mentors and mentees met initially in March, with further meetings taking place up until the end of the programme in July. Mentees were encouraged to set specific goals for the process, and both parties completed online reports after each mentoring meeting.
Formal feedback has been gathered from all participants, and some very positive reports on the programme from both mentees and mentors has been received including the following: ‘This is a truly excellent process…It is incredibly reassuring to know that there is somebody there, with your best interest in mind, to offer advice and support on a range of topics, but in particular on career progression.’ ‘I feel it offers a valuable source of support in negotiating the next step in my career. The mentor can provide advice or just act as a sounding board and understands the situation well.’ ‘My mentee has a positive outlook and has embraced the process and I think both of us have enjoyed the dialogue.’ Katherine really enjoyed working with MBA staff, students and alumni on this programme and would like to express her thanks to those involved for the energy, commitment and time that they have given to it.
Katharine Slattery is the Director of Peer Mentoring Resources, who provide consultancy, training and resources for organisations and businesses who wish to provide further support for their students or staff through the framework of a mentoring programme.