Journey of a LEAD mentee
Beverly Peeling, Head of eCommerce EMEA, Kimberly-Clark Professional
Reflecting back, it has now been just over a year, since the exciting news that I had been selected by my Leadership team – to have the external mentor opportunity with the LEAD Network. It sounded great, but what was this LEAD Network, and what could I expect from the programme?
I started with the formalities, of completing the ‘paperwork’ – my background, where I was in my career, and what it was that I was looking for from a mentor? I was very transparent about my working style, my directness, and the challenges I faced – there was no point pairing me with someone whom I had to tip-toe around, as that would just create an additional tension, which is not the right footing for starting a mentor:mentee relationship – in my mind.
I needed to state what I wanted from the partnership, and I do think of it as a partnership – so a two-way communication, a mutual trust and respect, and commitment to invest time in our discussions, and evolving the conversation to get both perspectives to walk through some challenges, and often sounding out those thoughts, or approaches.
So how has the journey been – since starting our meetings?
With a business function, where I am responsible for driving change, building a mind-set shift and delivering real growth in the business – throughout the year, I have had a rollercoaster journey – and have taken my mentor on that journey with me! I have often felt that the sounding board, and mentor support has kept my sanity throughout the pain points and challenges, and often those frustrations, when I always wanted to get there faster!
With a trusted mentor – I have felt the support, and often guiding discussions – have allowed me to talk through my approach, through challenges – and how to work through them, has often validated some decisions and thought processes, and in some instances challenged my thoughts or approach, providing a different perspective and angle.
Having secured my valuable external mentor – I was then also able to secure a great internal mentor within my business, who offers another perspective, and support in my role. I believe having these two dynamics has really supported my own progression in the role I have, but also enabled me to remain resilient through some difficult phases in the projects, and business evolution I have been working through.
We are now at the stage, where we are reviewing – when it is time to move on potentially to seek, a new mentor – as our journey and experiences have evolved. Although yet another stage of business transition is upon me, and I am seeking this continued support initially whilst navigating this next stage of the journey!
We have very different lives, come from a different generation, live and work in different countries – but the openness to discuss and explore solutions or walk through the challenges has been invaluable to me, and for that I would like to thank my mentor. I believe every mentor:mentee relationship can offer a different input and perspective, which can only help you grow personally and professionally.
I am a mentor myself within my business to various colleagues, and really enjoy the ‘payback’ I get from these discussions, and seeing those colleagues grow and evolve themselves is very rewarding. Within my team, we have also been working on reverse mentoring within the business with senior leaders, to support development, capability and change management too.
I would encourage you all to look for opportunities to support your wider colleagues inside and outside of your business – as I strongly believe it can also help you grow and learn new approaches, perspectives and also feel fulfilled.