Role models, mentors and sponsors
Video clip: When Alison was more junior she had an unofficial mentor. Now she chairs her department’s mentoring committee and she has an official ‘mentee’, who she meets once a month.
So we set up a mentoring committee in RDM and I chair that, and I chair that because I really think mentoring’s important and I think helping people and sharing experiences so that they all go and achieve the best that they can is, is a good use of my time.
Did you have a mentor yourself when you were at University?
Or during your career?
No. I didn’t…
But you’re a mentor now.
I am. What I did have was a senior academic in another department who was incredibly supportive. So it was somebody who read my first grant application and said, ‘It’s a programme grant. You need to scale it back.’ And who wrote references for me when I wanted to apply for promotions and this sort of thing. And that was, that was very helpful. So it wasn’t an enormous amount of time. We didn’t see a lot of each other but it was a sounding board…
…and that’s somebody that I still collaborate with and we have a joint grant together today and that’s fifteen years later. So I think sometimes you can identify people who, who are willing and able to help you.
And being a mentor yourself, is that working well do you think?
I’m enjoying it. We had one this morning actually, at half past eight.
I think both of us are enjoying it because I hear, not only the sort of problems that she’s experiencing, but also some of the things that are happening in the side of the department that she’s in. So I think we both, we both gain from it.
So how often would you meet?
We meet once a month and we spend about an hour once a month talking about how things are going, and really trying to give just useful suggestions and equally sometimes I think it’s also just a chance to offload [laughs].
Did she ask you to be her mentor? Is that how it worked?
Yes. The way that it normally works is that we basically try and match people.
She specifically asked for me. You can ask for a named mentor. Otherwise the committee does their best to try and match you with somebody of the right level and interests.