In March 2022, Duarte attended the first AYP networking event of the year. One month later, he was set up and paired up, as a mentee on the AYP Mentorship Scheme.
Duarte and his business partner, set up Grown Agritech in January. Grown Agritech is a start-up company specialising in agriculture technology who develop sustainable and innovative products that help in producing local, fresh, pesticide-free food and bring production close to consumption. Whilst they have built a solid and exciting foundation for the future, they felt they could benefit from some external support and a mentor.
“I’ve lived in Aberdeen for over 4 years and as with being a co-founder of a start up in the city, I wanted to become a mentee through AYP to help my development. With founding a start-up comes all sorts of needs, from interacting with your market, learning the business culture of the city, building a network, doing a customer journey, and building that market fit business model. Having seen AYP and the Mentorship scheme on LinkedIn, it presented itself as an opportunity for myself to connect and communicate with local professionals, learn from them, and support the business to the best of my abilities.”
To Duarte’s delight, the Mentor that he & his business partner preferred to work with based on their experience and skills, was available and excited to engage with a business, rather than one individual.
But how has that benefited Duarte?
“Meeting a mentor with extensive industry experience through AYP has been a great opportunity. We’ve had great engagement with our mentor. We’ve discussed our business plan and our value proposition, and we are now left with a task to present a business plan draft to our mentor and following that they will be providing their inputs for improvements and possible new ideas for us to engage with the Aberdeen and Scottish markets.”
For Duarte and his business partner, doing this and putting themselves out there to receive feedback was new to them, but Duarte’s experience has been nothing but positive.
“We’ve been given the ability to effectively clearly communicate to the mentor what the value addition we are proposing is, which has led our mentor to being amazing, making themselves readily available to share their own experiences and support us”.
So, after stepping into this for the first time, what’s Duarte’s advice to anyone looking to do the same?
“I would strongly advise anyone looking for support in any areas of their life to pair up with a mentor, as the mentors who work with AYP have extensive years of experience in what they do. They are very likely to help provide a great degree of direction mentees need to achieve any objectives and ultimate goals they have.”
Since 2016, the AYP Mentor Scheme has provided connections and development to many people across Aberdeen and Shire. If you are interested in becoming part of it and want to work with a mentor to help further your development and career aspirations, get in touch via email - firstname.lastname@example.org
In March 2022, we were delighted to welcome Sean McConachie to the AYP Mentor Scheme, stepping up to become a mentor with us for the first time and offering to support a young professional in the Northeast.
Sean is Founder & Director of Packed Up, packaging experts that provide solutions for all industries and work with companies around the globe. Through starting his career at a young age, he knew that with his experience he could help others get to where they need to be.
“I grew up having mentors and wanted to give something back in the same way that I had support to get me to where I am now. I’ve always valued the advice and feedback from others around me, especially those with the tried and tested methods, I felt it was time I repaid that for someone, especially in Aberdeen, being a local loon.”
Over the past 6 months, the focus for Sean and his mentee has been to bring some structure to their work and career ambitions.
“They recently begun a big venture and started up their own business. It’s been successful and growing fast, which is amazing. But we’ve been working on making sure they can manage the basics and put the right steps in place to be in control, but also look to the future. We’ve also been working on ensuring they have a work/life balance and ensure work doesn’t become all consuming, which I have experienced before”
Becoming a mentor for the first time himself has been something new for Sean, but it’s something he’s benefitted from.
“I’m not afraid to ask for feedback myself and thankfully my mentee feels working together has been helping him. That’s the only reward I want really! For me, it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop my leadership skills.
And after making a lot of progress together, Sean’s is glad to provide some feedback and advice to others considering becoming a mentor and supporting the development of a young professional in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“Make time for them, understand their situation, and show empathy as it isn’t easy being a young person in business. I can be a bit of a slow burner in terms of the constructive advice coming to a positive outcome, but I have found being there for my mentee when they needs advice or even just to vent has been key. I’ve learned to listen and then suggest ways to move forward.”
The AYP Mentor Scheme is open to all levels of experience, all industries, and backgrounds. If you feel you’ve got something to offer and have a passion to help develop the next wave of talent in the North East, you can be a mentor. You don’t have to be a manager, nor a leader in your current role, you and your experience can benefit someone. Get in touch to discuss becoming a mentor via email@example.com.
Business Development Manager Dean began with the AYP Mentor Scheme in January 2022 and was quickly paired up with a suitable mentor. As someone who was keen to make progress in his career, he felt that working with a mentor would benefit him.
“I feel that no matter where you are in your professional career you can always benefit from having a mentor. In nearly every role I have been in, the owners of the companies have had mentors and to me you can always learn something new or get a new viewpoint you have never thought of before.
Naturally when I saw the post go up on LinkedIn about the AYP Mentor Scheme, I jumped at the chance as the calibre of mentors was exceptional and felt confident that I would develop as a result.”
When starting out with his mentor, Dean was open minded to how it would progress but had two main areas of his development that he wanted to focus on.
“The first way was in a professional sense. I wanted to be able to bounce ideas off my mentor and get advice and opinions. They bring a different viewpoint to the table and hearing their experiences allows me to adapt my own way of working.
The second way has been in a more emotional sense. My mentor is an advocate in mental health first aid, and it has been great to talk about it with him. His experiences have allowed me to look at the industry I work in differently and focus more on people and how things impact them.”
Starting off with a mentor, even if you’ve worked with one before, can be a big step. One that takes a lot of effort, commitment and doesn’t bring immediate results. Being Dean’s first venture into this, it’s been a rewarding experience.
“The thing that surprised me most about working with a mentor was how easy it was to feel comfortable with them. Very quickly we had a great connection and can happily talk about most topics.
If you are looking to work with a mentor, there’s no harm in having a look to see what’s out there. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t click with a mentor and that’s alright not everyone is going to be a perfect match.
Also you will not only be getting advice from your mentor but you will also be helping them in the process with fresh outlooks and ideas.”
Becoming one of the first mentors to sign up for the 2022 AYP Mentor Scheme, Mark Russell has been committed to supporting the development of a young professional in Aberdeen. And along with that, we’re delighted that over the course of this past year, Mark, an established Business Development Manager, has taken a lot out of being a mentor & part of the scheme himself.
“With over 30 years of Sales, Marketing and Business Development experience, I felt that the time was right for me to impart some of the skills and knowledge that I have built up over this timespan and share it with some of the younger salespeople coming up through the ranks today. I mean, why have all those skill and knowledge and do nothing with it?”
Mark was paired up quickly with a mentee, that like Mark when he was starting out, was looking to navigate their way through the challenging world of sales, business development and hitting targets.
“My mentee & I meet on an almost weekly basis. We’ve been working on numerous areas of both personal and business development, and it’s been great to see how they’ve been taking what we discuss and use it immediately. I’ve been able to take into account some great sales successes in both of our careers and also some not-so-great sales moments and how to learn from these going forward. Every situation is an opportunity, and my mentee’s approach to this and commitment to the scheme & their own development has made this a joy to be a part of.”
Throughout his career, Mark had supported people in this before, but this was his first foray into direct mentoring.
“Being a mentor has benefitted me in many ways. One of which being taking some of my past big sales and contract wins and putting them into context with today’s marketplace for Dean. As any good mentor should do, I have also learned from my mentee. A classic example of “teaching an old dog new tricks”. (Metaphorically, of course 😉) It’s also good for me to reflect on some of these past successes just to remind myself what I have achieved over the last 30+ years and what they all meant to me.”
Finally, some advice from Mark for anyone looking to become a Mentor and support the development of young professional in the North East?
“I would highly recommend it to everyone, as it is very rewarding, and both the mentor and mentee will learn during the process. I would recommend a structured, but not a classroom approach. This engenders a more relaxed approach and atmosphere for both parties.”
Since 2016, the Aberdeen Young Professionals Mentor Scheme has been bringing people like Mark & his mentee together to support their career development and contribute to the success of businesses in the North East of Scotland.
We caught up with Alan Walsh, Managing Director an ANSA, who provide Data Analytics Solutions to the Energy industry. Alan got in touch with Aberdeen Young Professionals at the end of 2021 as we were finalising our mentor scheme for 2022, and wanted to offer his support & experience to a young professional in the North East.
For the past year, Alan has given his time very gratefully and is a mentor for two very separate mentee’s. Since the turn of the year, he been paired up with one mentee on a one-to-one basis and at the start of May, began working with a start-up business in Aberdeen, with two mentees under his wing.
We asked Alan, why did you choose to become a Mentor through Aberdeen Young Professionals?
“I’ve been doing quite a lot of mentoring in my current position, although it is always focused on people who work with me. I felt it would be good to cast the net wider and share my experiences with those out with my role.
Having received invaluable mentoring and coaching throughout my career, I really wanted to try and give something back.
I also saw it as an opportunity for myself. It would give me the ability to see my own company through “younger” eyes and perhaps pick up advice for ourselves on direction of the company, culture, etc.”
And it might only have been a short time he’s been working with the mentees, but to help feed their ambitions, it’s been a case of getting stuck right in.
“Very quickly I had to get an understanding of each mentee’s jobs and what they do, get to know their personality, what challenges they felt they were facing. Gaining that overall picture, which naturally to begin with, involved asking lots of open questions to get clarity for both of us”
In that time, there’s been some solid progress. With Alan’s support, the mentee’s, have achieved aligning a sense of career direction, supported a business plan proposal, improve time management and strengthened the ability to have difficult conversations, to name a few areas of development, of which there are plenty more.
And for our Mentors like Alan, there’s a benefit too.
“It’s been great for me too. I’ve been able to meet new and interesting people first and foremost, which I might not have without the scheme. I’ve also gained knowledge and tools for mentoring that I can use in my own workspace.
I know that my confidence has grew and I’ve improved my ability to listen, which is a very important skill for us all to keep working on.
Being a mentor has been incredibly rewarding for me. And knowing there is so much talent out there bodes well for the future, especially here in the North East of Scotland.”
Finally, Alan’s encouragement for those wanting to be a mentor & support the development of another person?
“It’s 100% worthwhile and rewarding. You’ll get out of it what you put in, but make sure you leave the mentees to organise things, don’t push too much. Gentle nudges only.
After a time of receiving help, coaching, advice it has been so fulfilling to “give back”.
If you’d like to find out more about becoming a mentor with Aberdeen Young Professionals and supporting the development of the next wave of talent in the North East, get in touch
Our Mentors and Mentees will be publishing blogs as they progress through the AYP Mentor Scheme