Lisa Thompson, Business Director, Wavemaker North

Mentee and mentor

My journey with mentoring started about 6-7 years ago, as part of an internal programme based on propelling junior talent. As well as training, part of the programme involved a mentor in senior leadership.

Real talk – I was a little/ lot nervous about mentoring and quite unsure as to what I would get out of it. As someone who likes structure and a plan, I was a little apprehensive that mentoring would be too open for me.  Reader - I was very wrong. I now believe having a mentor is one of the best things you can do for your career. Since then, I have had four hugely influential mentors, three of which I met through the IPA Excellence Diploma. Each of them has shaped my career. I could write way more than the word count I have been given so below are the three reasons why I believe having a mentor is important.

Fresh eyes

The best mentors ask you to think about huge career questions, but they will also get you to think about questions that don’t link to your career. For example, I was once asked to create a mood board of women I admire (in any walk of life), that I then talked through with my mentor. This task unearthed something I hadn’t realised about what was important to me in my career, and where I was now. This has been hugely influential in helping me make decisions about my next steps. However, I wouldn’t have got there myself. The benefit a mentor has is fresh eyes, they don’t see you every day and therefore they can offer a perspective that you wouldn’t get to yourself.

Encourage you to fight for yourself

We’ve all been there, a bit angry about something at work, where you feel so frustrated you can’t see a way out of it. This could be pay, it could be progression. However, it’s sometimes easy to spend your time getting more and more wound up, and not do anything about it. All three of my mentors have not only been able to find a way to talk me down, allowed me to vent but also helped me navigate a problem in the right way. They also inherently believe in you, so they give you the pep talk you need to make the right changes. Sometimes everyone needs a cheerleader, and sometimes you need someone who will take the ball of emotion into a rational, considered argument that will help you get what you need.

Lived experience & storytelling

This may seem obvious, but I think we’re all guilty of thinking our own challenges are unique, and to think no one has felt this way. But mentors have always seen something they can apply to the challenge, and they can often apply a birds-eye perspective to see the whole situation and find the relevant experience to apply. As a lover of stories, I find learning from other stories really helps me position myself step away from my immediate situation and work through the solutions.

As well as being a mentee, I have since committed to being a mentor, as part of the Bloom North mentoring programme, and with the Ideas Foundation Manchester employability bootcamp. The time I spend doing this is often my favourite hour of the week. It’s inspiring, rewarding, but also fun. One of my mentors told me that the best thing about mentoring is that you come away learning something from your mentee, and I now know for certain this is true.


Last updated 01 May 2024