When you need support in any aspect of your working life, the best advice you can get is from someone who's been there and has the experience to be able to help.
This approach is at the heart of SThree’s Mentoring Programme, which offers SThree staff the chance to get valuable support, advice and guidance from a relevant senior manager to fast-track their career. Read Nicolette and Natali’s stories to find out what mentoring offered them and what a difference it can make both to your professional and personal life.
What it’s like to be a mentor
Nicolette is a Senior Principal Consultant at SThree's specialist brand Huxley IT in Amsterdam and has had a varied and hugely successful career so far. She has worked for several different brands within the SThree Group, including as a team manager. Having spent a brief period outside the company at another recruitment firm, she also gained an external perception of SThree and the things that makes us different. It makes her a perfect candidate to be a mentor, something she has done with two people within the organisation.
“My mentees would come to me with their concerns, and together we would come up with a plan of action. We would then follow up on how it went. What I particularly liked is that there was no political involvement with my mentee who lived and worked on the other side of the world. It meant that we could completely trust each other. In some ways, it’s easier to advise someone who lives in another country than someone on your team or in your own country. At the same time, you both work for the same company so you live the same values, have the same strategy and the same philosophy.
“It was good for me too. They really listened to me and followed my advice, it gave me a good feeling that I could help and, professionally, it was the confirmation of me doing a good job. They were both going through phases I have been through myself, and on a personal level it felt good to be able to help them.”
…and what it’s like to be a mentee
Nicolette has also benefited from having a mentor herself: “For me it was very simple, whilst I had a very good relationship with all my managers – it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in them – the most valuable part was having somebody else who was not in my business area. For example, thanks to her input and advice I started “visioning” sessions with my team, which I really liked, and my team still really likes that, even though I don’t manage them anymore.
“It worked because my mentor was in HR so she had a different personality to me, her business sector wasn’t sales-driven. She was good at strategic thinking, something I don’t think I am so great at. It was a confidential relationship, and that’s what I valued most.”
Nicolette credits the mentoring scheme for helping navigate various challenges that have got her where she wants to be today, and so does Natali Jaafar.
“Nicolette and I hit it off straight away”
After three years in SThree’s Sydney office, Natali took advantage of the opportunity to move to another country. Whilst the move to Tokyo was an exciting point in her career, she encountered some issues initially.
“I was the only person in my office that was organically developed within SThree, everyone else had been hired locally, plus I was one of the only females in a senior sales position. I had put a recommendation to my managers about changes we could make but was having trouble convincing them. I wanted to get a European perspective on the issue, so I requested a female mentor, someone outside of Asia and preferably in Europe.
“Nicolette and I hit it off straight away. She was really energetic and friendly; she laid it out to me from the start that everything we talked about was confidential. I felt quite open to speak up, to tell her how I was feeling about things, what things were frustrating me, what things I was struggling with.
“When I was applying for my promotion I was required to do a presentation to my managers. Nicolette shared her own presentation with me and advised me on how to set out clear goals in multiple aspects of my new role for the next 3- 6-12 months, she encouraged me to talk about my strengths and capabilities and how best to present those to senior managers.
A hugely rewarding experience
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Although we are not officially mentor and mentee anymore we still keep in touch. I have been considering diversifying my role and incorporating a few different things, so I’ve requested a new mentor, someone with operational experience to get different advice. It’s good to meet people outside of my four walls, it’s a great way to learn about other functions in the business and find out how others do things.”
Vicky Morgan, HR Business Partner, says: “Mentors are always happy to help, and are genuinely flattered when approached. We would always encourage employees to put themselves forward to be a mentor, as a really rewarding way to develop their own leadership skills. We give them full support in terms of training and guidance, and leave them to develop the relationship and decide how often they meet with their mentees. Most people tell us that it is a hugely rewarding experience for them.”
To find out more about the mentoring scheme, visit our careers website.