On Tuesday, Holly Addison, Emma Causer, Kate Nicholls and I ran the fifth Plan B speed-mentoring session with another group of fantastic mentors and mentees.
Plan B mentoring, put simply, helps women who are one to two steps away from board level to get there with the help of a senior mentor (male or female) in the sector. The first stage is a speed-mentoring session, where mentees typically see four to six randomly selected mentees for 15 minutes each. Mentors then decide who they would like to work with and together with the mentee decide how the process will look. It could be a monthly face-to-face session, a Skype meeting every fortnight or a phone call every week – it’s up to the two of them to determine. The only commitment we ask from a mentor is to attend one three-hour session in the year then, if they want to mentor someone, the time commitment is up to them.
Following five speed-mentoring sessions, it’s a good time to step back and look at what has been achieved in the sessions to date and apply the lessons to the next sessions, which are booked for October.
Our mentors have been board-level men and women from this sector and we’ve been blown away by their generosity in terms of time and advice. Many offered their services without being asked and not knowing what speed-mentoring was all about – they just went with the flow.
They listened intently to the career aspirations of the women they met and offered clear advice and strategies. In one hectic evening some mentors saw up to eight mentees, which was a real challenge mentally and physically.
Some mentors attended both the January and May sessions, which was unbelievable, and some have already signed up to take part in October. One company provided five mentors for the three sessions in May. The commitment from some companies in terms of mentoring and offering team members the opportunity to be mentored has been awe-inspiring. We can’t thank our mentors enough. Without them, we wouldn’t have a programme.
Our mentees have been ambitious women wanting a bit of additional support, advice or help to move up one or two levels in their own business (usually), although some have been interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
Again, none of the mentees had experienced speed mentoring before but everyone came with an open mind. Of course, the advice they received wasn’t the same from everyone but that’s real life. Some clicked with certain mentors more than others, but ditto. They felt they gained something from every encounter.
It’s early days to gain feedback from recent sessions but here are some emails from our mentees.
“I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for last night. I’ve never been to an event like that before and found it so personally useful and took away some incredibly sage advice.”
“Massive thank you to the team again for a wonderful event last night. I have certainly taken a lot away from it so thank you for including me on the invite!”
“By speaking to different mentors, I have gained confidence and clarity for the near future.”
Without exception, the comments have been positive and supportive and make us think we are doing the right thing.
Revolution has been our host for all five sessions to date and those planned in October. The company has provided all the facilities (including food and drink) free, which has been gratefully received. Rob and Kate have been incredibly positive and helpful and without their help we would be working much harder to find somewhere for up to 15 couples to talk in confidence. Thank you.
We have been genuinely thrilled at how well the speed mentoring and follow-up sessions have worked – the whole programme to date has exceeded our expectations.