Mentoring is not a new concept. The benefits for career development & planning are obvious and an effective mentor can make a big difference to one’s professional growth. Most organisations today offer some sort of an internal mentoring programme.
The need though is to re-look at how mentoring programmes are being constructed and whether we are going to end up doing more of the same thing. Let’s first ask ourselves the basic questions. Why do we want mentors for our teams? What issues, challenges and roadblocks are they looking to overcome, and what kind of insights and knowledge are they hoping to gain? Once we think about the objectives, it will help us build tailor made mentoring programmes.
We know that biases, both conscious and unconscious have meant that though women comprise almost 70% of the workforce at entry levels, the number is reversed when it comes to boardrooms and leadership at the highest levels. At Global Women in PR (GWPR), we work to support and mentor young leaders and help them grow their careers. And in today’s world, growth is inextricably linked to global perspectives and finding creative solutions to problems at hand.
It was with this objective in mind that we designed the GWPR International Speed Mentoring Day on International Women’s Day this year. As an international networking platform GWPR was very well placed to identify 100+ of the world’s most senior women in PR & Communications who served as mentors for this activity. Over 200 cross-border speed mentoring sessions of 30 minutes duration each were conducted with mentees from around the world. These mentees are the future leaders of our industry and were carefully matched with a mentor basis their industry sectors and shared interest. In keeping with the theme for IWD, the mentees used the mentoring session to discuss a career related situation that they would #ChooseToChallenge.
From the overwhelmingly positive feedback that we received, it is truly clear that the chance to have a conversation with a leader from the same industry, but from another market was a concept that worked really well. While both parties understood the business and had faced similar challenges at the workplace, being from different markets helped bring new ideas and creative solutions to the table.
During these sessions, mentees asked questions about the future of their careers, learnt best practice from another market and were overall encouraged to be brave and challenge the status quo. Mentors on the other hand, had a chance to connect with bright young talent from another country and get a better understanding of the challenges faced by the next generation of leaders. Bringing the world closer and opening the mind to possibilities made this exchange both exciting and effective.
Impressions from 2021 edition of GWPR International Speed Mentoring Day
“The mentoring session organized by GWPR on International Women’s Day was one of those unexpected gems you stumble upon. It gave me, as a mentor, the joy to share my experiences with someone across the sea, in UK and forge a connection that we both hope will last well beyond the hour we spent online on March 8th, 2021. Sharing experiences across borders is something that we should do more often to support women communicators in advancing their careers.”, Cristina Hanganu, mentor GWPR International Speed Mentoring Day.
“Be kind to yourself and the rest will follow - this has been the main learning picked up from the online meeting with my Mentor, Ipshita Sen. I really enjoyed our discussion - especially useful and eye opening, but also warm and friendly. Ipshita is a true role model and we instantly connected. This might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Thank you GWPR for the opportunity!”, Irina Patru, mentee GWPR International Speed Mentoring Day
“What an amazing session I had with Mayang Schreiber from Indonesia. So down to earth, practical and in its nature motivating. Thank you for the opportunity, for opening our doors and finding amazing guests to have at our table. And thank you for a very inspired match.”, Silvia Jalea, mentee GWPR International Speed Mentoring Day
“I never had imagined that a 30-minute talk can bring so much value to my professional life. It was an experience I will cherish for a long time. I immediately had the opportunity to apply in my day to day work the things that I learned in that short online discussion with Brandi Boatner from US and I truly thank her for everything she shared with me.”, Violeta Niculut, mentee GWPR International Speed Mentoring Day.
Ipshita Sen is President of the Indian chapter of GWPR and led the GWPR-IWD International Speed Mentoring initiative