Mentoring is a relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development. The “mentor” is usually an experienced individual who shares knowledge, experience, and advice with a less experienced person, or “mentee.”
Mentors become trusted advisers and role models – people who have “been there” and “done that.” They support and encourage their mentees by offering suggestions and knowledge, both general and specific. The goal is to help mentees improve their skills and, hopefully, advance their careers. The relationship is confidential and works best when based on mutual trust and respect. Quite often, after time, the relationship becomes informal and can last a life time.
There have been several important aspects that have supported my career, and have helped me achieve what I have achieved. In addition to coaching at varying key points; the other aspects have been sponsors within my organisation at the time and mentors that have been either in the same organisation (who were more experienced / senior than me) or external to my organisation. I have equally seen the add value that mentors has brought to others, to their teams and the business. It does not need to be within a department (e.g. HR or Finance); and can be very useful across department / sector; but there needs to be a specific area of expertise that the individual is focused on developing (e.g. Leadership, Culture Change) and they want to learn from someone who is more experienced in this area.
In all cases these mentors have been become trusted confidants and advisors; who I have learned from, sought input & guidance from and greatly appreciated their support over the years. They know who they are, and we still have that trusted relationship today. As my career developed, I have continued to seek mentors (be it for their specific sector or professional knowledge / expertise). In turn I have mentored individuals within, and external to, the organisations I have worked in. These all become part of an invaluable network and are not specific to a profession.