Daunting. Seems like an appropriate word to describe walking into the AYP Mentor Scheme finalist evening. In the grandiose setting of the Trinity Hall on Holburn Street and with a few other nervous candidates I was first called across to do a video interview (the first time I’ve ever been illuminated in front of a camera) and then to interview with my selected mentor, Alan Blacklaw. Thankfully the nerves settled and the interview went well. Alan was my manager as a fresh-faced graduate in 2009 for a couple of months but we had a lot to catch up on.
Since being paired together Alan and I have had two face-to-face meetings and a teleconference which have served to guide me during a turbulent time in my career and personal life. BG Group, who I have worked for since 2009, is currently being taken over by Shell and the transition is proving somewhat stressful. It has been great to have an opportunity to discuss this with someone impartial. We’ve also touched on a few non-work issues which has been a pleasant surprise.
During our first meeting we focussed on getting to know each other’s backgrounds through a series of questions that Alan had sent to me a few days previously and three questions that I selected to ask him. We discussed managing expectations and how best to allocate time to the ‘personal stakeholders’ in life using a three tiered bronze, silver and gold model. We also discussed career aspirations and the need to broaden experiences though potentially branching out into new companies and industries.
One of the most interesting conversations of this meeting was around telling stories. I was asked if I consider myself to be a good story teller, answered in the affirmative and was then challenged to tell a story of a recent success. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best put together narrative in the world and this proved the point that all good stories need a beginning, middle and an end. This is something that I will be focusing on in my day-to-day work as each update provided is, in some ways, a story.
Our second meeting was built around behaviours and personalities – specifically using the Insights tool to discuss management styles. Both Alan and I are ‘red/yellow’ personalities according to the Insights questionnaire so we were able to discuss methods to interact with other personality types. We had a good session on incentivising people and one of my actions was to take the time to personally thank at least four people for a job well done during my next trip offshore.
Alan has also provided me with a selection of ‘sound bites’ to consider which include:
We are due to meet again in mid-August when we will be discussing recognition (as mentioned above) and focussing on setting some long term career goals. I will also be looking for some assistance with generating new goals as part of my Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Continuing Professional Development. One of the questions that I have had a chance to ask is “what’s in it for you?” The answer surprised me a little in that it seems that discussions with me are thought provoking and cause Alan to be a little more introspective and questioning. I’m glad that the sessions are proving mutually beneficial and would like to thank Alan for giving up his time to meet with me. I’d also like to thank the AYP for setting up the scheme and hope that the other mentors and mentees are getting as much from it as I am.
Chris Tayler – Mechanical Engineer – July 2016.