No-one is too successful or too old, or too – well, anything, to have a mentor. Whether that’s in a personal or work capacity, having a role model is invaluable. Someone who’s been there, and can help you navigate everything life has to throw at you.
Our very own Sandy Vossos has been a mentor for the last two years. With #LearningAtWorkWeek in mind, we sat down and had a chat with her about the benefits of a mentoring relationship. We found out what’s involved and the surprising things she’s learnt along the way…
How did you become a mentor?
It all started with an introduction from an old work colleague. She knew that one of her contacts (a woman working at a senior level in client services in a digital agency) was looking for a professional mentor. Knowing us both, my ex-colleague thought we’d get along. And that I had the right level of experience to be able to offer her the advice and guidance she was after. I had done a little unpaid mentoring before, and knew I loved it, but wasn’t that confident I had the right skills or mentoring experience. But I thought, what harm can it do to meet for a coffee and a chat? That was back in September 2018…well, we hit off straight away and have worked together ever since.
What does it involve?
We usually meet up once a month for a couple of hours. Sometimes we used to do it in person, but often on video calls. We regularly used the likes of Zoom, Appear.in and Teams technology long before we all had to! My mentee always comes prepped with a few things she wants to run by me and pick my brain on. We have a very strict confidentiality agreement, so I can’t give you any details, but it could be anything – from how to approach a challenging situation she has at work to lending an encouraging ear while she develops her plans and strategies for her own business or personal progression.
What have you gotten out of it?
So much! I absolutely love it. It feels amazing to think that my experience and opinions are both valued and valuable. First and foremost, feeling like I’m truly helping my mentee develop and grow is really important to me. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from that. But it’s also really confidence-boosting for me. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much knowledge you actually accumulate over the years! After every session, I come out feeling more capable and ready to tackle my own work challenges head-on, trusting my own judgement more.
What advice would you give for anyone who wants to become a mentor and doesn’t know where to start?
It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done professionally (probably only second after founding BPZ). So I’d tell anyone: if you get the chance to do it, go for it. The most important thing is to know someone who wants a mentor, who can learn from you, and that you click with personally. You need to be able to build a strong relationship with them, where you both feel safe and comfortable with each other. But you should also have someone in the background who you can turn to for support, just in case you get caught up in any difficult conversations outside your comfort zone.
Regarding professional mentoring qualifications, I don’t have any. And, while I’m sure they’re great, I personally don’t think you need any. You just need to be a good listener, have lots of energy and enthusiasm for it, a little time and of course, plenty of discretion!
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