Do you think you would benefit from a mentorship?


Ever thought of becoming a mentor?  Or even a protégé (male), a protégée (female), an apprentice or, in recent years, a mentee?  What’s involved in this relationship and who comes out top? After all, why become a mentor?

Did you know, studies have proved that employees who are not in receipt of a mentorship are twice as likely to leave compared to those have been assigned a mentor?

Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an on-going relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge.” – quoted from wikipedia

Read on to understand more about the rewards reaped by both mentor and mentee.

Drawn from:

My Marie Claire
Mentor Changed My Life

Marie Claire UK | Inspire & Mentor
June 2011
Emma Elms

Our campaign, in association with the Prince’s Trust, offers the chance to be mentored by some of Britain’s most influential women.  Here, nine of last year’s winners – and their mentors – reveal what happened next.


1) Fashion: ‘My mentor taught me to toughen up’

Lola Adeshigbin, 28, from London, is founder of Independent African fashion boutique; her day job is as a financial consultant.  Her mentor was Sarah Walter, 45, founder of, an online boutique selling holiday clothes and beauty products.  Sarah was formerly director of fashion communications at River Island.

Things that were covered during the mentorship
  • How to get featured in major fashion magazines.
  • How to appeal to your target market.
  • Developing a clear brand.
  • Improving and focusing the business plan.
  • Ensuring that you market yourself in the right way by sharing your vision.
  • How to reject products that don’t fit with the company ethos.
  • Be clearer and tougher with demands when dealing with staff and suppliers.
Three things learnt
  1. Devising a one-sentence summary pinpointing what your brand is about and only stock things that meet those criteria.
  2. Think long-term.  Realistically, don’t expect to break even for three years and don’t expect to make a profit for five.  In the first three years, focus on investing in the business.
  3. Stay business-minded.  Be firm with staff and suppliers and communicate clearly what you need them to do and by when.

Sales have increased and products have been featured in two major glossy magazines.

The mentor’s story
  • Passion, enthusiasm and ideas are a starting block, but you need to get it all down in a coherent plan that makes business sense.
  • Needed help with clarifying the vision and business strategy.
  • Receiving products sporadically with variable profit margins is not the way to go – receive more regular deliveries.
  • Time management is an issue since she can’t work 14-hour days while she also has a full-time job.
  • Encouragement to build an advisory board of personal contacts: contact other people interested in African fashion for advice and support.
  • Becoming a mentor has realised enjoyment in working with young women who have a passion.
  • Women seem more open than most men about sharing knowledge – ego just doesn’t come into it.


2) Accessories: ‘My mentor made me determined to make my brand the new must-have name in handbags’

Kate Bostock, 53, is executive director for clothing at Marks & Spencer.  She has been mentoring Claire Watt-Smith, 27, founder and MD of BoBelle accessories.

The mentor’s story
  • Great design ideas are a start, but must also have knowledge of how a supply chain works.
  • The experience has reminded Kate of how important it is to make time for young, talented entrepreneurs.
The winner’s story
  • A mentor who loves your products is a plus.
  • Started to meet with M&S buyers and working on an exclusive range that launces in spring in two London stores and online.
  • Determined to make BoBelle the new must-have name in handbags.


3) Education: ‘My mentor gave me a big picture view’

Kanya King, 40, is the founder and chief executive of the MOBO Awards.  She had been mentoring Beth Nicholls, 33, founder of educational and creative project Do What You Love, which uses art retreats and online courses to give women the tools and inspiration to do what they really want with their lives.

The mentor’s story
  • Thrilling to watch Beth develop.
  • Continue to be there every step of the way.
The winner’s story
  • Kanya offered a big picture view, fresh ideas and contacts.
  • Most importantly Kanya made me believe in myself and what I’m doing.


4) Theatre: ‘My mentor gave me the courage to quit my job’

Fiona Levey, 22, is a budding theatre director and producer.  She works as a drama assistant at the Uppingham School and Theatre, Rutland.  Her mentor was Sally Greene, 48, owner and chief executive of The Old Vic.

Things covered during the mentorship
  • Thinking big e.g. instead of applying for admin jobs why not try for assistant director or trainee producer.
  • Boosting confidence: relevant experience, although regional still makes it applicable.
  • Taking the plunge: handing in notice to apply for jobs you thought were out of your league.
  • Arranging to shadow staff at The Old Vic.
  • Encouragement leading to becoming more adventurous in own shows.
Three things learnt
  1. Make the most of every networking opportunity.
  2. Aim high.  Apply for jobs that might seem out of reach.  Just sound confident about the experience you already have.
  3. Even if you ultimately want to a job in a big London theatre, regional experience counts for a lot.  If a good role comes up somewhere you hadn’t expected, be open to moving rather than settling for an admin role in a big


    The mentor’s story
    • Sally has an ethos of nurturing new talent.
    • Always believed in mentoring – the theatre industry relies on people wanting to help the next generation along.
    • Breaking into production is difficult: it is traditionally male dominated.
    • Took the time to connect with Fiona on a personal and professional level.
    • Gave Fiona access to the day-to-day running of her businesses by arranging for her to shadow staff at her companies.
    • Suggested relocation to London because it is where she needs to be to launch her career.
    • Loves Fiona’s drive and the fact she’s a dreamer – allows a mentor to re-access that part of the self that’s uninhibited.


    5) Cosmetics: ‘Me mentor helped me to finally pursue my long-established dream’

    Julie McManus, 39, is head of scientific and technical-regulatory affairs at L’Oreal.  She has been mentoring Maria Salichou, 28, who is in the process of setting up her own cosmetics company.

    The mentor’s story
    • Julie never thought how her personal experiences could benefit someone else.
    • Incredibly rewarding to help Maria – it is the beginning for a long friendship.
    The winner’s story


    6) Interior design: ‘My mentor made me feel so strong’

    Kelly Hoppen, 50, is an interior designer and owner of Kelly Hoppen Interiors.  She has been mentoring Madeleine Casey, 34, founder of interior consultancy Madeleine Casey Design.

    The mentor’s story
    • After 33 years in business, it is great to share experiences with Madeleine at the beginning for her journey.
    • The road can be tough and it is a wonderful thing to have someone more experienced to turn to for advice.
    • Kelly has felt hugely flattered to take part in this mentoring process.
    The winner’s story
    • I have been taught that self-belief and self-confidence are the most important characteristics of any businesswoman.
    • Also have learnt to be versatile and flexible in order to succeed.
    • Madeleine has never felt so strong.


    7) Jewellery: ‘My mentor gave me direction’

    Kat Anderson, 28, from London, is an aspiring jewellery designer.  Her mentor was Marcia Kilgore, 42, founder of Bliss spas and the Soap & Glory bath and beauty line, which sells in Boots nationwide.

    Things covered during the mentorship
    • Even though it is a creative industry, how to engage the business brain too and to approach the bigger picture; otherwise you’re just a hobbyist.
    • Crucially, how to think about yourself as a brand.
    • Moving from conceptual designing to thinking about how you are going to sell the design to someone.
    • How to learn related skills to really help with your work.
    • How to gain a strong direction.
    Three things learnt
    • Work out what it is about you and your brand that makes you unique.
    • Chase people – and if someone says no, keep going back to them.
    • Think about the customer – who are you selling to?  How wearable are your products and how easy are they to reproduce i.e bringing realism to your designs.
    The mentor’s story
    • A lot of people have given Marcia the benefit of their wisdom over the course of her career and it’s a nice feeling to now be in the position to do the same for others.
    • Loves seeing young talent flourish and it’s great to think of knowledge being passed down.  Also interesting to look back over 20 years to remember what she didn’t know back then – it’s a reminder of how far she has come.
    • Marcia could tell Kat was incredibly gifted and could see her work in Harvey Nichols or Net-A-Porter, but like a lot of people starting out, she needed to work out what she wanted her business to be and where she wanted it to go.
    • Marcia gets a lot of young girls going to her to ask for advice and she always asks them the same thing: what are you trying to achieve?  Do you want to make lots of money, or just make beautiful things, or both?  She helped Kat work that out.
    • Kat struck Marcia as a thinker – it’s a great trait to know when to listen rather than just to say something for the sake of it.  No doubt she’ll go far.
    • More than anything, do not be afraid to ask for help.  It took Marcia a long time to work that one out.


    8) Film and interactive media: ‘My mentor has been inspirational’

    Dawn Airey, 50, started out as a trainee at Central Independent Television and is currently chairman and chief executive of Five.  She has been mentoring Anna Bertmark, 28, founder of Attic Sound & Music, a company that provides music and sounds for film and interactive media.

    The mentor’s story
    • Dawn has learnt a huge amount from Anna about the challenges of being a woman in sound and would like to think she has given Anna clarity on career direction.
    • Dawn has felt honoured to guide such a wonderful young woman who can always call on her for advice.
    The winner’s story
    • Has been inspired.
    • Been instilled with confidence to contact anyone – no matter how important – to further the career.


    9) HR consultancy: ‘My mentor helped me to secure important business contacts’

    Claudine Collins, 42, is head of investment press at media agency network MediaCom.  She has been mentoring Margaret Marsh, 40, founder of HR consultancy service Doverhay Consulting.

    The mentor’s story
    • Mentoring has been so rewarding.
    • Madeleine’s approach to work and its challenges is so inspiring.
    The winner’s story
    • Since being mentored, has secured three important business contacts.
    • Whenever nervous in situations can think, “How would Claudine tackle this?” – it works every time.



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