The value of mentoring
Mentoring is a process which involves a lot of reflection and open conversation to help you achieve your career goals. In the last 6 years, I have had many different mentors. Maria is a successful professional in the finance space. Valia, whom I met through a professional women’s network, is a mother of two, with a career in sales and marketing, and was making a career move when she was mentoring me. David is working for a big tech company, running its academy. Each mentor has played an important role in shaping my professional development. Today, I would like to share some of my lessons learnt with you.
Impress your peers
A few years ago, I received an email from an old boss asking my opinion on an old colleague of mine and whether he should consider hiring her. I mentioned with surprise the email to Maria, and through open discussions with her, I came to a very powerful realisation; I had always focused on impressing the senior leaders of my company, through the quality of my work. Yet, for every senior leader in a business, you can find at least 10 peers you work with regularly. Your network will increase tenfold overnight.
Impress your peers through your collaborative nature. They are the ones who will be giving the ‘silent’ recommendations for your next jobs.
Imagine having a weighing scale, and on one side you have ‘high learning opportunity’ and on the other side ‘high salary’. That was the dilemma I faced when evaluating two offers I received, three years ago. Maria was very clear which one I should choose. She said ‘you are at the start of your career; don’t make a decision based on the salary you will earn today. Choose the one opportunity that will equip you best to get the compensation you are aiming for in your next role’. And I got the salary I wanted, a year later, in the ‘high learning opportunity’ company. If it is year 0-5 of your career, always aim for maximising your learning experience. It will have the highest long-term ROI: f(learning) = future salary.
When I met Valia, I was looking to switch companies. She was very open with her network and introduced me to many different people. It was a very interesting journey, as I was exposed to a variety of businesses and industries. This helped me understand what I liked and what I didn’t, which opportunities to go for, and which ones not to. Choose a generous mentor. Generous with his/her network, generous with sharing his/her experiences with you. You want them to make a mark in your career development.
Pay it forward
I met David at a panel event at Imperial College Business School. I found him very inspiring and I asked him to mentor me. A couple of hours later, I received a message from him: ‘Sure, I’d be happy to’. Although at the time he didn’t know me well enough, he was very generous with his time. Now, I have myself become a mentor of bright and highly motivated women leaders of the future, through a great programme that the Women in Tech club of LBS put together. So, never be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor, and always pay it forward. It’s important to pass on your career learnings. It gives hope when others know someone else has gone through what they are going through. It creates a safe space for open and honest conversation. It cultivates a sense of continuous self-improvement, which is very much needed in our times, both in professional and personal relationships.