Sharmini Wainwright is managing director of Michael Page & Page Personnel Hong Kong. With over 13 years’ experience with PageGroup, she oversees specialist recruitment across finance, financial services, sales & marketing, legal and more.
I've heard its good to get a mentor but how do you go about it? What does it involve and does it have to be someone from your own company or it can be from another? As far as I understand, I don't think our company has a mentoring scheme in place. Also, what other benefits are there of having one? Can they act as your reference? And what do I have to do in return?
Sharmini Thomas - Career Doctor
Posted Monday 26th August 2013 11:16:00 PM
Dear Lost, If you speak to most highly accomplished career professionals, the majority of them would indicate that the wisdom and guidance of career mentors has been a critical success factor for them. They have enjoyed the benefit of having those more experienced than them impart their career wisdom and guidance. The questions you have posed are very valid areas to review in this regard. Within the employment market in Hong Kong, some organisations operate a formal mentoring system internally while others adopt an external mentoring system for their leadership team. Then there are organisations where it is left up to the individual to proactively find a relevant mentor for themselves. In answer to your questions: How to find a mentor? - The most valuable mentors are those who you already know and who have some relevance to your career path through their background, industry or job specialisation. They will therefore be able to provide very relevant and constructive information, as they genuinely understand the position you are in. Benefits of having a mentor? - A mentor is most valuable where you feel the need and see the value, rather than because you are being asked to or think you should have one. The majority of the dialogue and topics discussed in a mentor – mentee catch up are typically driven from the mentee themselves i.e. tabling ideas that they want a different perspective on, or gaining an 'external' and 'objective' view on a matter. It is not designed to be a learning workshop where the content is purely driven by the mentor. That can be achieved in a lecture or workshop. Can a mentor act as a reference? Professional references in Hong Kong need to be from your direct reporting manager to have validity. Your professional mentor would have less insight about your capacity to execute a role effectively than the person who managed you directly. They could however act as a character referee for you. What should the mentee do in return? The most effective mentor – mentee relationships are those which are focused on driving outcomes that are identified by the mentee. In return for the mentor's time, you are expected to ensure you are adequately prepared, and have also actioned any follow-up points from your previous meeting with them. I trust this assists you to determine whether a mentor scheme is suitable for you at this point.