I believe that when people are given the right support and confidence, they can become the best version of themselves. I have been mentoring for the last 16 years - right from my university days to current day in the corporate world and it remains a huge passion of mine.
My interest in mentoring began at university. I began supporting young school-leavers who were unsure of their next steps when it came to higher education. I offered mentoring to help them refine their ideas into concrete action plans and equipped them to transition from living at home as dependents to living independently at university, being accountable for their own physical, mental and financial wellbeing. I even spent time with the parents, to understand their concerns and design coping mechanisms, including creating trust in their children in the absence of direct supervision. I focused on evidence-based decision making skills, and sustainable consequences (i.e. the individual can stand behind them and it makes sense even with the passage of time) - a skill which is underinvested in the early years of young adults.
I enjoy being everyone's personal cheerleader and also prompting new ways to look at themselves and the opportunities available to them.
This fuelled my passion for mentoring, so that when I started my first job, my focus moved to helping university students become more employable - educating them on how to make their time at university count and what competencies to acquire and be able to demonstrate. I ran several mock interview sessions to highlight how their university experiences are transferable to the workplace, something which was not commonly or widely understood. As I grew in experience, I was approached by senior manager to support certain individuals on key capabilities where they felt that I had a higher proficiency. This led to peers asking me to support them in their personal development and become their sounding board.
I have helped others to understand their gifts and talents better, raise their self-awareness and most importantly help them discover that the locus of their worth is within them - they do not need external validation to know that they have a rightful voice at the table. In material terms, I have helped students get through their desired universities and further to their graduate jobs; with colleagues, I have helped them achieve their promotions, pay rises - by enabling them through skills, guidance and removing their self-imposed mental barriers. I have also tried to raise awareness on gender biases and how it seeps through implicitly and hence how men need to be aware and women need to proactively address it.
What I get out of it
Having been raised in Tokyo (my parents still live there), Japanese language and culture is very close to my heart. There is a beautiful word "Ikigai" in Japanese, which embodies the most fulfilling purpose of one's life. For me, my Ikigai is "to enable". My greatest motivation and pleasure is to enable outcomes - be it at work where I manage large scale transformation in banking across people, process, data, technology, or in personal life - I want to help organisations and people reach the best version of their aims. I enjoy being everyone's personal cheerleader and also prompting new ways to look at themselves and the opportunities available to them. I personally have learnt a great deal from everyone I have engaged in this manner - be it resilience, spirituality, or professional expertise.
I have had tremendous support in my personal and professional life from several people who wished me well and did it without any gains to them. I want to pay it forward and create a virtuous ripple effect. All it takes is one supportive act at a time.