I initially found out about the AYP Mentoring Scheme when I read a blog on LinkedIn from one of the mentees from the 2016 programme. Laura’s account of her professional relationship with her mentor sounded exactly like what I was looking for. The fact that the programme was closed to applicants didn’t stop me from contacting Steve White and registering my interest. I hit it off immediately with Steve and we both felt confident that the AYP Mentoring Scheme would be of benefit to me both personally and professionally.
The last three years have been a bit of a whirlwind career wise; having transitioned from junior doctor to charity volunteer to charity manager. I have great passion and enthusiasm for my current role and wanted to be the best possible manager for this very worthwhile charity. This is my first managerial role and I felt that I would benefit from a mentor to help steer me in the right direction. I have actively sought out mentors both formally and informally, but still felt like I hadn’t found what I needed to be truly successful and happy in my role.
I felt like I had hit the jackpot when Steve called to tell me that he had ‘matched’ me with Colette Backwell, CEO of CLAN. My mum has worked with CLAN as a therapist for many years so it is a charity very close to my heart and Colette’s background across the public, private and third sector really impressed me. I was apprehensive before our initial meeting as I have had bad experiences with managers in the past. I think this meeting lasted nearly 2 hours, where we shared our relative career histories and the highs and lows we have both experienced. I found Colette very easy to talk to, and appreciated her honesty and openness in describing her own experiences. I have always been a very honest person, at times this has been to my detriment, but found it refreshing to be able to speak to someone without needing to be careful about what I said.
I have met Colette a number of times since our first meeting and the most valuable thing she has taught me is to have confidence in myself and the importance of personal resilience. For the first time in my professional career, I feel like I have someone who understands me as an individual and as a manager. As busy as Colette is, she always finds the time to talk if I need to, whether face to face or on the phone. She has been invaluable recently when I had a work issue which was really stressing me out. She provided practical advice on how to tackle it; using facts not emotions to get my point across.
I have always struggled to ask for help, but feel now that if I need advice in future, I will have the courage to ask for it as I realise that it is in fact the strong thing to do. I feel very lucky to have Colette as a mentor and look forward to working with her in future.
I couldn’t write this blog without mentioning Steve, who in my head is always wearing a reindeer shirt, which is what he wore in our first meeting in December last year! I feel like I have two mentors as Steve has given me some really sound advice and is another person I know is just on the other end of the phone if I need a chat. Thank you to everyone involved in the AYP Mentoring Scheme, it has made such a difference to my life and I hope one day that I might even be able to repay them by becoming a mentor!