25 May 2023

On mentoring

SEC Committee members share their experience with mentoring and the importance of having a mentor.

Dr Aimee Goodall CSci MIMMM

Until my chartership application I had no formal experience with having a mentor, however when I look back over my studies and career to date, there have been key people guiding and influencing that have helped me develop.

Having a good mentor, either formal or a positive influential figure is so important in building you up in the early stages of your career. I think these key people can see the potential in you more than you can see in yourself. It is hard to reflect and know what qualities you have that will help early on in your career.

I have had a positive experience with formal mentors. Last year I asked somebody at work if they would be my mentor. They are a successful female in the steel industry and work within the same company as me. Though conversations I realised that I was ready for a new job and applied for a promotion within the company. I also think it is important to have a mentor who isn’t your direct line manager as it helps to broaden the way you think about your position within a company and where you want to take your career.

Liz Scoffins CEng CEnv MIMMM

Once I settled into first job, I knew it was time to look for a mentor as I intended to go for chartership at some point within 5 years. I felt having a mentor early in that journey would allow time for us to get to know each other and help give me direction as I went around the business through my grad scheme. Now 3.5 years later, we’ve pushed each other to getting our applications for different chartership ready and submitted.

Away from chartership, I’ve sought out a mentor when I joined a new team that went out to customer sites to help me dress the right way for the right setting. Mentoring doesn’t just have to be about the work, it can be about any area that you want support and guidance in. I think on it this way, if I wanted to be shown how to do it I could find a teacher, but if I want feedback on how I’m trying to do it, I need a mentor.

I was lucky enough to be asked to peer monitor someone, getting to support someone learn and develop is a great feeling. To offer up your own experience to act as a different perspective can be a really good way for other to make their own decisions. I wouldn’t say that I was a fantastic mentor, but we both learnt from the experience, which is the main aim of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Alice Robinson CEng MIMMM

At university I didn’t really have a mentor. Beyond my course mates and my lecturers, I didn’t know anyone who worked in materials and I definitely didn’t know anyone who worked in industry in a materials relevant field. I had no idea what internships were, or that I needed to be trying to get myself one in order to get ahead with my career. Through my department’s ambassador scheme I got to know some older students in my course and they suggested I should apply for a Rolls-Royce summer internship. Looking back now I guess that was my first experience of being mentored, and it’s an experience that has definitely paved the way for my career to date and something I’m really grateful for.

On leaving university (and having interned twice in my summer holidays), I joined Rolls-Royce on a structured graduate scheme which fortunately positioned me with both a career and professional mentor from the get go. My career mentor was a senior manager in my technical area of interest and my professional mentor was a Fellow of IOM3, since this was the Institute I was keen to progress my professional registration with. Now, having left the graduate scheme and two years into my career, I no longer have a formal career mentor but have maintained my relationship with my professional mentor and have utilised this relationship to help me achieve everything I have to date.

My mentor has acted as a sounding board for me for technical matters at work, potential career moves and has also helped guide me through my professional registration, helping me navigate my way through the process to achieve Chartered Engineer status. I feel like I owe a lot to my mentor and am super grateful for everything he’s helped me with so far in my career, and hope our relationship can continue for a long time to come as I’m not finished on my development journey yet!

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