02 September 2015
Six months on from its conception Coventry & Warwickshire First’s mentoring programme is proving its value, home growing talent as a means of tackling the acute skills shortage.
As the potential of the region’s professional services sector for growth increases in line with the area’s economic growth its expansion is being hampered by an acute skills shortage, made worse by the high salaries offered by Birmingham and London firms.
Coventry & Warwickshire First board member Martyn Howard is one of the driving forces behind the programme, working closely with the Young Professional network to deliver it. It pairs the region’s leading professionals with young people from another sector, helping them accelerate their personal development.
Speaking about the value of the programme Martyn Howard explained: “Having access to a mentor at the start of your career can really help you make the right decisions.”
Lucy Webb of Band Hatton Button continued: “I’m thinking about where to take my career at the moment and so joined the Scheme with the specific goal of exploring my options.
“The informal style of the sessions made it very easy to chat and by tapping into my mentor’s first hand experience I feel I’ve gained a great deal. I can now see many more opportunities than I was aware of and feel doors have opened.”
For Paige Howitt of SFB Group the mentoring programme has helped her build her confidence. “The relationship with the mentor is informal so it’s easier to talk openly than it would be with a colleague or my manager,” she explained. “As a result he has given me some great feedback and helped me understand my strengths and areas for improvement. He’s also shared some of his early experiences.”
Mentors are also benefiting from participation, often in unexpected ways. “I’ve learnt a lot,” said mentor and Relationship Director at Barclays Bank, Keith Boxley. “My active listening skills have definitely improved, the goal being to help my mentee find her own solutions rather than tell her what I would do.”
James Oliver, mentor and Relationship Manager – Commercial at Yorkshire Bank, has also valued the need to listen. “Needing to listen means I can really see things from my mentee’s perspective and am seeing things anew myself.”
Susan Hopcraft of Wright Hassall, pointed out the value of women participating in the programme as mentors. “I suspect women more than men need this type of support,” she said. “Men seem to have more role models in senior positions so women who are prepared to be mentors have an important role to fill.”
To find out more about the Mentoring Scheme, whether a potential mentor or mentee, email Coventry & Warwickshire First at firstname.lastname@example.org.