If I chose to answer this question today, it is in a way for our readers to understand why I speak so passionately about mentoring, why without being a mentor myself I’d like to see this practice develop in France and Europe, why I focused my research on the subject and why we have at Merkapt devoted a part of the business to it.
I’ve always been passionate about transitions and how people go through them. This is why I became a coach, so that I could help people go through these transitions more smoothly. But being a coach, I could only help one person at a time, so when I discovered mentoring, I realised the potential for helping people massively. So my mission became to help people help other people, by developing mentoring programmes, training mentors, so that more people going through transitions could have a companion in that journey.
Indeed, mentoring is an excellent way to use past experience of the mentor to enlighten the mentee’s reflection. It is still the mentees’ responsibility to make their way forward, but at least they are not on their own. Mentoring helps them as well to take a step back so that they can make more informed and thought through decisions.
The other reason I am spending so much energy on this subject is because I believe mentoring carries some very honorable values. It is a voluntary (unpaid) activity for the mentor, it is about sharing, it is about growing together since they both learn something from each other, and it is about connection (the relationship is fruitful if a good level of intimacy is reached).
The other day I found on youtube a video from last year in which I make an appearance. It was for the “Women’s Spring Forum” an inter-entreprise network of women discussing career issues. I had written an article about it then, but thought I’d share this video with you to show one example of where mentoring can happen : women’s networks in big companies like Deloitte, Cisco, Orange, Areva etc.
Mentoring can indeed help women in their career transitions, but also help high potentials to fast track their career ; young people, students, unemployed, engineers, scientific people to start and develop their business ; companies to encourage inter-generation dialog, etc. Mentoring is not the only tool to enable such transitions but I feel it is one of the most valuable with added benefits such as mentors or seniors recognition, and more sharing and caring between people and generations.