Wise Heads: Becoming a Mentor

1 February 2013

Wise Heads: Becoming a Mentor

Henley Business School's Careers Department is seeking seasoned businessmen and women to guide aspiring graduates as part of its highly rated mentoring programme.

Henley Business School's Careers Department is seeking seasoned businessmen and women to guide aspiring graduates as part of its highly rated mentoring programme. By providing advice drawn from real-life experience, mentors make a significant difference to the prospects and perspectives of Henley students.

So what makes a good mentor? 'A mentor needs a range of qualities', says Linda Thorne, who manages Henley's mentoring scheme. 'Communication skills, empathy and the ability to listen are crucial'.

Students who approach the Careers Office in search of a mentor browse an anonymised list of volunteers and select the one they think will help them achieve their aims. 'Students often choose somebody who is working in their industry or who have a skill they wish to acquire', Thorne says. 'Students do not expect a job offer; instead they are hoping to have a sounding board off which to bounce their ideas, and they want to gain insight and advice from an industry insider'.

Mentoring is increasingly recognised by students as a valuable tool in personal and professional career development. As Nicola Brooks, a current MBA student at Henley Business School, writes:

'I used the time with my mentors to discuss my career and get their thoughts and input on the direction I want to take… I have two wonderful mentors who have given me invaluable career advice and opened a number of doors for me with highly influential senior stakeholders within the industry.'

Alumnus Deborah Pearson, now Head of Marketing for a large telecommunications company, chose to mentor a Henley student 'for the intrinsic satisfaction of giving back'.

As Pearson points out, the relationship is not one-sided: 'Mentoring helped in bringing a different perspective to my own team management and leadership skills'. However, it is 'not something to be undertaken lightly and time must be set aside (for it) to be effective'. 

If you are based in the UK and would like to share your accumulated knowledge and experience with a fresh generation of graduates, contact linda.thorne@henley.ac.uk