Progressing Careers by Mentoring

von Bill Crombie

The blog that follows is in connection with this programme:

I got involved in the programme last year at the request of a former coachee, initially to help ‘get all the mentors on the same page’, co-running a sort of mentor accreditation session in Germany, where the programme is already successfully established. I also took on a UK-based mentee, and when I met her I did what I always do in such a situation – imagined I was a shareholder in her company and asked myself ‘As a shareholder, am I happy that this individual is doing the job she is doing in my company?’

The answer was ‘no’. I was sure she was doing a very fine job, but also sure that she could do an even better job (and generate more value for me as a shareholder) at least one level up in the company. So we worked on making it easy for her bosses to see what she was doing and the value she was adding, she did excellent work on executing all we discussed, and today she is one level up in the company, and at the head office – the location she aspired to.

This year I have two mentees under this programme, and I find I am in a similar situation. Coincidence? OK, it’s not a big and statistically valid sample, but I think we all know that there is a lot of talent out there - specifically female talent – that is under-recognised, under-utilised and for whatever reasons is not realising its full potential.

The HBA mentoring programme does a very decent job in addressing this issue. It has been running in the US for years and is substantial and successful. The same can now be said about Europe, where it started as pan-European endeavour in 2013 with the majority of contribution from Germany and Switzerland. The plan is to develop it further in the UK.

The programme starts each year in September, so 2016/17 is ‘closed’. However, we anticipate a significant spike in demand for mentors in the UK when we roll out the 2017/18 programme next autumn. From personal experience, I can tell you that being a mentor is rewarding and enjoyable for all the reasons you’ll read about in the HBA link above, and mentors don’t have to be working in the Healthcare / Pharma sector – leadership is leadership, and much of the ‘right stuff’ is common across business sectors.

A mentoring programme can be effective – but it needs to be well-organised, with clear goals and committed people with the right credentials on both the mentor and mentee sides. I’ve been hugely impressed by what I’ve seen so far of this programme. It has been fascinating for me to experience the difference (and yet sometimes the similarities) between coaching and mentoring. There’s a lot of largely untapped female talent out there in the Healthcare / Pharma sector – if you think you could be a mentor (or would like to be a mentee!) in next year’s programme please contact myself

and / or

Dr. Tanja Keiper, Director Mentoring HBA Europe

Victoria Taylor, Mentoring Director HBA UK

Bill Crombie is a qualified Master Business Coach and one of the Managing Partners of Leadership Choices, an international consultancy focusing on leadership development at Top Management level. He is also Managing Director of Leadership Choices UK. He is used to working in challenging multi-cultural environments and he has carried out assignments in most European countries, the USA, the Middle East and the Far East.