The Progress Project

Get a mentor

mentor offering support to a mentee

My biggest career breakthroughs came from being mentored when I was working in-house.

We didn’t have a formalised mentoring scheme (outside of specific Talent Development initiatives) so I asked a stakeholder I respected directly if she’d mentor me. It was a risk, as although outside of my team – I still needed to work closely with her on projects.

My self-esteem and confidence were at rock bottom. In fact, looking back, I can’t believe how I even plucked up the courage to ask her. She had a reputation for being straight-talking, direct and holding no prisoners. And to top it off, she’d held very senior roles in global organisations. So why would she be interested in helping me?

Her reaction was nothing short of wonderful. She agreed immediately and it was enlightening, tough and brilliant. She shared her own vulnerabilities (until then, it genuinely hadn’t occurred to me that she’d have them!), challenged me, pushed me, coached me, guided me, inspired me.

She helped me to see different perspectives, to challenge my thinking and ultimately to put myself out there more. Without her guidance, I genuinely don’t believe I’d have: taken my coaching qualification, left my role to take on a bigger one and ultimately set up my own business. Truly life-changing and I’m forever grateful to her.

You don’t need a formal mentoring programme in place to ask for a mentor, or restrict yourself to a mentor where you work. But you do need to value yourself enough to create the time and make the ask.

I know it can feel daunting, especially if you’re not in a great place (exactly the situation I was in back then). Could it be worthwhile giving it a go, though? What if this one thing changes the whole trajectory of your career … or even your life?

Who do you admire, or respect? Who has a role you’d like to know more about? Who’s got the experience you’d love to tap into?

Think about who you’d like to be mentored by and then grab my PDF guide here to get some tips on how to get it started and ideas on what you could be mentored on. It’s a great place to start if you’re unsure AND you can also nab the tips to encourage people you work with to get mentoring too!

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