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Gavin Astley, Head of Operations of Carrs Pasties, is a veteran of the iMentor programme (also called the Leadership Hive Mentoring Programme), having been a mentee, along with some of his colleagues, and is now a mentor.

“I’m now happy to help give something back. I'm part of the iMentor programme, so I have a mentee who I mentor through his business journey. I think the learning carries on at that point. Although I'm now giving the benefit of my experience and mentoring somebody else, I'm still learning a lot from that relationship. I think we've gained a lot through that as a company, and I think the iMentor programme itself is a fantastic thing. More people should get involved. 

When a mentee Gavin says it is important to have set goals and objectives and the relationship between mentee and mentor remains focussed on those goals. “It is important you have that mentor relationship to keep you on track.”

Being a mentor is something Gavin has got a lot out of.  “Personally, I think I get more out of being a mentor than as a mentee.” This is of course good news for anyone thinking of giving it a go. The benefits do not all fall to the mentee, which is what people naturally think. 

Being a mentor gives the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of different challenges people face. They might be new challenges that mentor has not faced. That’s one of the differences between coaching and mentoring. When you are coaching somebody, you really need to have experienced something. When you are mentoring you are guiding them through. You don’t need experience in that particular field, you just need to know how to get through the challenge. 

Things that I learnt over the years I find imprinted the strongest on me is when I have taught it to someone else. My greatest learning is when I teach.

Gavin Astley, Head of Operations of Carrs Pasties

The mentor and mentee do not need to be from the same industry 

Gavin admits that there was some concern at first, but iMentor has a proven algorithm that matches mentor and mentee. And industry is not an issue.

“It’s particularly obvious in manufacturing. We often talk about manufacturing widgets. It’s not a thing, it’s just a representation of whatever you are making. We happen to be manufacturing pasties, but it could equally be cars, pens or airplanes. It doesn’t really matter. The principles are the same.”

“I’m obviously from a manufacturing background, food based, and my mentee, Azeem Amir, is about delivering experiences. The challenges he is facing now are challenges I faced ten years ago. There is a huge amount of crossover, it doesn’t matter at all what industry you come from. The tools and techniques are the same.”

While different backgrounds or disciplines don’t matter too much the algorithm does consider personality. “That shines through with the algorithm that sits behind iMentor in matching my mentee with me. It clearly works very well.” 

Time of commitment

This is an important question to ask. It is crucial for mentee and mentor to set out right at start the rules and boundaries of the relationship. How often you are going to meet, what are you going to talk about and what you are not going to talk about.  

“For me and my mentee, we are both busy, it worked quite well for us. We settled very quickly on the amount of time that would be appropriate for both of us. But equally whatever the situation is, it is very important to get that nailed down right at the start. Otherwise, one half of the relationship might be thinking I need more time, or this is too much time, it is too pressured and how do I broach the subject? It is important to head off all of that. Right at the start agree what timeframe it’s going to be.”

And in Gavin’s case, he is still meeting his now former mentee regularly after the agreed length of the mentorship. “I met my mentee just yesterday and we arranged to meet again in three weeks. It is working so well it would be foolish for both of us to finish up right now. We will keep it going as long as we are both gaining some benefit from it.”

A recommendation

“I think it is a win-win scenario. Mentor and mentee get an enormous amount out of it. No one loses anything.

I would really recommend the iMentor programme to people. I think the algorithm works well. Here we are now, well past the end of the scheduled time and we’re still going strong. I would heartily recommend people get involved.”

If this is something your company - for you and your senior leaders would like to apply for, or you would like to be a volunteer mentor, please register your details on the iMentor platform.

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