4 vital lessons I learned from my mentor
We take great pride in gender equality here at Telstra. One initiative, within our overall approach, is access to mentoring for women and men, to help all our people fulfil their career goals.
In a recent mentoring experience I had, employees were paired with a mentor for at least four meetings over a 16-week period so they could discuss their career paths and formulate an idea of how they wanted to progress. I learned a great deal under the guidance of my mentor, Cyrus.
As we hit the ground running in 2016, I’ve taken stock of what I learned on the program last year and want to share four key takeaways:
1. Personal brand is important:
One of my biggest lessons has been around our discussions on how to define my "personal brand". This is something I had always put in the "too-hard" basket since it was difficult to articulate and work on. But in my discussions with Cyrus I was able to learn from his personal experiences and the approach he has used (and has seen others use) in his career. This helped me reflect on and more clearly define what is important to me professionally and how I might work towards achieving it.
2. Review your career goals regularly:
We also used our mentoring sessions to reflect on my career goals for the next few years. My discussions with Cyrus have helped me critically re-examine my goals and deal with some of the mental blocks I had when thinking about what I can and can't do.
3. Create a career goal action plan:
Having a mentor is like having a safe way to challenge your goals and development areas. For instance one of my goals is to be known for being a more "strategic partner" in HR. However, through my discussions with Cyrus I have been able to challenge myself about what it really means to be strategic, how that is reflected in my behaviour and how I can then translate that to my work.
4. Broaden your horizons:
Typically, we also spend a bit of time during our meetings talking about what we have been working on in our respective teams. It’s been extremely interesting for me to learn more about a different part of the business, and the role it plays in Telstra's strategic priorities. Interestingly, my mentor's business unit is also one that my team in HR works very closely with, so it has been very remarkable to learn about the commercial aspects of the area that we support in my HR team.
I often still find myself reflecting on my notes from our sessions during my "thinking" time. The mentoring program has been a really great learning experience for me and I am thankful to Cyrus for offering his time to be a mentor and for always making time for our sessions regardless of how busy his days have been.
Do you have a mentor? What have you learned from them?