This time last year, I was standing on top of the world. Well, it was the top of the BT Tower looking out over London, but to me, it felt like the top of the world. For in that moment, I felt inspired and that anything was possible.
I had been invited to BT Tower to hear from senior businesswomen who had just completed a nine month cross-company, cross-sector mentoring scheme lead by the 30% Club and delivered by Women Ahead. The aim of the scheme is to create a step-change in the number of women attaining senior leadership and board roles by developing a broader pipeline of women and ‘balancing the pyramid’ at all levels.
Both men and women are invited to be mentors so that mentees can benefit from exposure to different experiences and perspectives. In return, the mentors report that they feel inspired and motivated to take the experiences and understanding received from working with their mentees back to the companies and industries in which they work.
Less than a year after standing at the top of BT Tower and I found myself looking over London once again – except this time as a guest of The Pension Insurance Group – to sit on the panel and share my 30% Club journey of being a mentor and mentee.
There are many reasons I would encourage people to consider mentoring, not least because it encourages honest and expansive conversations in a way that can be difficult in appraisal meetings. Speaking with someone who is not connected to your day-to-day role and can bring experiences, perspectives and fresh thinking, is not only inspiring but hugely valuable in steering decisions about the future.
For those thinking about mentoring, here are my three takeaways:
We can all be guilty for putting ourselves at the bottom of the daily to-do list. Start as you mean to go on and put monthly meetings in the diary. Work out a time of day that works best for you and whether you want the meetings to be face-to-face or virtual - by video or telephone – or a mix of the two. Ensure you set yourselves an agenda and spend some time preparing for each conversation so you get the most from each session.
Set Goal Posts
Ever struggled with the question: “Where do you want to be in five years time?” - me too. Mentoring is a great way to identify and set the goal posts – short and long term – and to work through the steps to achieving them.
Find Answers Together
Mentoring is a journey of discovery and learning together. Work with your mentor to problem-solve and consider ways to tackle challenges together. Mentors won’t always have all the answers but they will be able to help you think expansively.
Check out Women Ahead and the 30% Club for more information on mentoring. If you would like to be a part of a company that champions women in business, we want to hear from you.