I’ve been doing a lot of networking lately. Since leaving Durham I have thrown myself headlong into seeing as many people as possible to try and gauge what opportunities may be out there. It is amazing how kind and generous people are. One of them is Helen from the North East LEP. There is enormous power in networking.
Having heard about the North East LEP’s Growth Through Mentoring programme, I met with Helen to see whether my experience would lend itself to the programme. I am interested in volunteering my time as a mentor.
Now mentoring was something I introduced into the team when I was at Durham County Council. I always saw mentoring as a part of my leadership role and all of the management team got involved in the training. Good leadership and good mentoring go together. We offered the opportunity throughout the service and it later became part of a wider corporate programme.
I was delighted when I was accepted as a mentor on the LEP initiative and my introduction to the programme coincided nicely with the first of what will be a series of mentor workshops.
Amy from Northumbria University chaired the group. I was involved with the Executive Women in ICT course she had developed. There were about a dozen of us at the workshop and after Helen had introduced us all, Amy started by asking us to describe why we wanted to be involved and what we meant by mentoring.
Our stories were very similar. I said how I was interested in liberating people at work and how I had found the mentoring for the Women in ICT course transformational, a word that is often overused. I liked seeing caterpillars turn into butterflies. I have got to meet some great people and learned so much about myself.
Others talked about using their experience to give something back, being a critical friend, a sounding board, a calming influence and someone that the mentee can trust.
I have always felt that people do not invest enough in their own development and mentoring is a way that this can be achieved. The sessions, such as those in the Growth through Mentoring programme, can provide moments of reflective space where alternative perspectives and diverse thinking can be explored all in a constructive and non-judgemental way.
The workshop was great, it was really useful and informative. I had said to Helen that I had little experience of start-up businesses yet the Growth Through Mentoring programme is aimed at established businesses which have the potential to scale and grow. Scale-ups fit my experience more than start-ups.
My work through Dynamo North East, an industry-led initiative focusing on growing the tech sector in the North East; Socitm and NEICT, means I have coverage of both the private and public sectors, while my latest venture is working to help businesses grow up, through strategy creation and organisational unblocking. It is a kind of organisational mentoring.
Like all of the other mentors I have a lot of experience to offer, it is just different. Count me in.