Having already worked in the offshore oil and gas industry for a number of years, I wasn't sure if the AYP was for me and how much I was really going to benefit from them. I had previously considered joining around 2018 or 2019 but time passed and I ended up missing the opportunity!
Anyway, fast forward to October 2020, I was stuck in my hotel room in Norwich, on standby preparing to mobilise for a job offshore when I came across the AYP post on LinkedIn that applications were open for the 2020/21 mentor scheme.
I jumped at the opportunity and I watched the short videos and read all the mentor bio's. I instantly knew that I wanted to select John Wilson as my preferred mentor. Not only is John from an engineering background, but he is a very experienced and successful Managing Director. He was also awarded the AYP mentor of the year back in 2019!
I was fortunate to have been paired up with John and we had our first catch up meeting at the end of November 2020. We met in Starbucks over at the Village Hotel in the Prime Four Business Park (back when restrictions allowed!). I found John to be very knowledgable, he was also very easy to talk to and was incredibly helpful.
The main points which we discussed and took away from the meeting were:
John has provided some brilliant suggestions for career progression and since our meeting, we have now put together a Personal Development Plan (PDP) with goals which I will be looking to achieve in the not so distant future, I am currently project managing two major decommissioning projects with my current employer Lloyds Register, so plenty in the pipeline to keep me going, however, I am very much looking forward to starting my own journey with the AYP and seeing what the Mentor Scheme has to offer with the support of John!
I would highly recommend any professional to reach out and apply to the AYP Mentor Scheme, even if you have the slightest bit of doubt, it really is a fantastic opportunity which will provide a whole new perspective.
When I discovered that Aberdeen Young Professionals ran a successful Mentor Scheme, I knew I had to sign up. I had heard of a couple of friends having a mentor through their employer and as this was not offered through my work, I saw this as a great opportunity to receive some guidance with my own career.
I was immediately drawn to Carla Riddell as my mentor, particularly because she seemed like such a positive and friendly person who has had such a successful career within the energy industry so far, a sector that I’m eager to pursue a career in.
The scheme is being run differently to how it has been in the past due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I thought this year it would be challenging to carry out a Mentor Scheme but we’ve been able to adapt well to the situation through using video calls.
The main areas I’m looking to work on during my time on the Mentor Scheme are:
Although we both have different technical backgrounds – I studied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at university while Carla is a Geologist - I’ve been surprised to learn that there were some similarities between Carla’s first job out of university and mine. Carla has provided me with some great suggestions on how to work on achieving my goals and I’m already feeling more confident and positive even though I’m only a few months into the Mentor Scheme. There’s still so much I’d like to cover during my time on the scheme and I’m excited to see what else I can achieve!
If anyone is wondering if they should get involved with the AYP Mentor Scheme then I would highly recommend it. A mentor will provide a different perspective on topics (which I never would have got by doing my own research online) and will also really encourage you to invest in yourself.
Starting my career in 2018 as a communications professionals, I enrolled in the AYP Mentor Scheme at the start of 2019. At the time, I had four main goals in mind:
- Improving my networking skills.
- Gaining business development experience.
- Having a better career plan.
- Increasing my expertise in marketing/communications.
Meeting with Calum Lawrie over the course of a few months, we discussed potential projects that would help reach my goals. Thanks to Calum’s constructive advice, I have not only managed to make significant progress with my initial objectives, but also developed abilities I wasn’t expecting in the first instance.
Improving networking skills
Networking isn’t necessarily taught at University and can be nerve-wrecking when you don’t really know how to go about it. Suggesting events and offering practical advice, Calum gave me the tools to feel more confident and comfortable.
By attending different events, volunteering for organisations (such as STEM Ambassadors), and undertaking new tasks at work, I have been able to get a better understanding of my personality, what I am good at, my likes, and dislikes. I realised that knowing yourself is critical and paying attention to your behaviour can set you up for success when facing challenges. Self-awareness is likewise beneficial when exploring and choosing career paths.
Boosting self-confidence for more
To me, a mentor encouraging and challenging you is a great way to become more assertive and confident. Over these past few months, I have felt more assurance in the actions I have been undertaking and now have a clearer picture of the career path I would like to pursue. I now feel I can take more responsibilities in my current role, but also in my personal development. I have recently been appointed as promotions lead and head of fundraising by two organizations; two roles that are giving me more challenges and a great opportunity to strengthen my skills and develop new ones.
I can say the AYP Mentor Scheme has been very beneficial for my professional and personal development. It gave me more focus and confidence. Today, my responsibilities within James Fisher and Sons plc are different from last year and more marketing-focused (which I was looking for!). Being in charge of planning and implementing a marketing strategy for the product line R2S, and on my way to follow a CIM qualification, I am given the chance to significantly develop my career. Special thanks to Calum and the AYP team who have been great support in achieving these outcomes!
In my first blog post, I wrote about the different projects I was going to undertake following my first meeting with Calum. These were networking, creating workshops for STEM Ambassadors and vlogging. Thanks to Calum’s help, I have managed to make significant progress, and our teamwork is allowing us to define practical ideas we will soon be putting into action.
Feeling more confident while networking
Networking was one of the first reasons why I joined the mentor scheme. Not feeling particularly comfortable with this practice, I knew I needed to improve this skill as soon as possible.
As Calum suggested the first time we met, I went to different networking events to enhance this ability. Going to events organised by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (Business Breakfast, Speed Networking) and other organisations (Junior Chamber International (JCI) Aberdeen), I am glad today to feel more confident. I even find myself looking for additional opportunities to expand my network and learn more about marketing/communications as well as the local economy. Offering good learning opportunities, I intend to attend marketing-specific events such as the ones organised by Gravity Digital Marketing and Modern Marketing.
Planning a STEM Club
Calum and I have likewise been in the process of defining workshops focusing on digital marketing for STEM Ambassadors, to improve my presentation skills, communications/marketing expertise and explore my interest in teaching.
After participating in an online course and two evening training classes arranged by Aberdeen Science Centre, we have started to define and plan a STEM Club demonstrating the benefits of social media and other digital tools in engaging individuals and communities with technology and/or scientific projects. Linked to the “Curriculum for excellence”, these series of 5 – 6 workshops will be tailored to students’ and teachers’ needs and interests. To make this happen, we are currently in discussion with different organisations (notably Robert Gordon University), to ensure quality and valuable content will be delivered.
Calum’s network and knowledge of the educational system have been particularly helpful to define pertinent ideas further. Besides, I believe my upcoming meetings with experienced individuals will add extra confidence and tangibility.
Vlogging – on a mission to kickstart a YouTube channel
My mentor and I have also achieved to determine a vlog concept to develop project management and branding abilities. As an exciting, but also time-consuming and challenging project, we are now focusing most of our interest on it for the following weeks.
After watching videos recommended by Calum and undertaking comprehensive research on Google Trends, VisitAberdeenshire, VisitScotland and YouTube itself to create content according to users’ interest and intent, we have defined a more specific type of channel, a mission and a list of potential subjects.
We aim at producing a vlog on adventures in Aberdeenshire to inspire both locals and visitors to take the road, discover, re-discover the region and live their own adventures. By filming a variety of indoors and outdoors activities, we will be showing Aberdeenshire is a great place for discoveries. Again, to make sure we are generating the right content, Calum has kindly given his valuable advice, points of view and started conversations with local organisations. Considering the effort and time that need to be invested, we aim at publishing the first video in June – July.
I am very grateful for Calum’s help as it has been giving me a clear focus and the opportunity to challenge myself. From networking and volunteering for STEM Ambassadors to vlogging, I have been participating in engaging activities that have allowed me to grow as a professional, but also as a person. I have recently been offered new responsibilities in business development, and I believe my work with Calum is allowing me to enhance a variety of skills and advance in my chosen career paths. Many thanks to Calum and AYP for their continuous support.
Coming towards the end of the Graduate Scheme at ROVOP, I wasn’t sure if becoming a mentee with Aberdeen Young Professionals was for me. I wondered if I was too late in expressing my interest and whether I would receive any substantial benefit from the Mentor Scheme, as I was learning so much through the Graduate Scheme already at ROVOP.
After my first meeting, I can confirm that any doubts have been cleared from my mind. The introduction meeting with Leigh Stott, Managing Director at Hunter Adams and my assigned mentor, could not have gone better in my opinion. We hit it off from the start, got to know about each other and developed some clear outputs for our next meeting, as well as looking into an overall goal.
Leigh’s experience, clarity and genuine excitement towards the opportunities that a young stranger felt he had within his company and career, gave me the confidence that I had a lot to learn from Leigh. Her selfless passion for watching others grow and succeed is clearly a credit to her personality and own success.
Leigh laid out some first steps in enhancing my personal progression within the company and into the role I will take after the Graduate Scheme, which I have condensed into two very simple ideas.
As well as this, Leigh helped me to understand that taking time to look at my own personal progression is not a selfish act. In fact, this benefits the company as well. ROVOP views their young talent as an investment and improving on myself is directly correlated to improving the company.
I am currently on a rotation in our Houston office, assisting the Operations Team in projects being run from the US. I am having a great time and learning loads, but still really looking forward to finding out what the rest of the mentor scheme has to offer when I return to the UK.