After many fulfilling years volunteering as a mentor for several programmes in the UK and overseas I was delighted to be invited to the launch at Audley Square of the UWC’s mentorship scheme, which commenced last month. Hearing of the ethos, journey, hard work and time that they had taken to get the scheme off the ground, and meeting some of my fellow mentors and mentees who all hope to grow and gain so much from this programme.
Throughout my career I have been involved in working with and mentoring women as they grow through their professions and particularly those from developing countries and low-income backgrounds in Africa and the Middle East. Often witnessing the drive and determination of mentees to overcome intermittent power or internet service barriers to access precious time with their “matches” over skype or zoom calls. Thirsty for valuable experiential and industry insights, advice on business skills, best-practice, technology, networks, and access to a much wider community of likeminded women who can support and empower each other. Often in industries and societies where female role-models can be very hard to come by, and I often find that working with women to support and strengthen their careers, build their skills, confidence and knowledge really does bring about transformational change.
More recently have been invited to be involved in a growing number University programmes, often designed to offer “career” mentorship on a one-to-one bases at either the final stages of courses, as students are preparing to enter the marketplace; at the fresh graduate stage where students have left the academic space and are becoming young professionals who are steering the pathway of their early careers. These programmes can offer fantastic opportunities for confidence building and individual growth for both mentee and mentor alike, tailored to specific individual needs.
For me, nothing can be more rewarding than taking someone, a young graduate, early or mid-career professional under your wing for an hour or two every month and to then see them blossom and grow during the six- or twelve-month duration of any structured programme. Mentoring relationships are a two-way street, with the mentor often taking away far more than could have been envisaged when they set out to share their advice, insights, experience, and knowledge to better empower someone to advance their professional development.
Regardless of where we are in our careers or indeed in life, we all need a soundboard, a friendly face, and a listening ear from time to time, and any sage advice that can come from such encounters can mean so much to the recipient and help them see more clearly the paths that are open to them.
Tags #mentorship, #universitywomensclub, #careerpathway, #confidencebuilding, #personalgrowth, #supporteachother, #empowerment,
Sandra Woodall, FRIBA, FRSA, AoU
Sandra is leader of tangramGULF’s award winning MENA Region studio based in Dubai. She is a passionate environmentalist, architect, urbanist, and researcher who is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA), the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), and the Academy of Urbanism (AoU). She is the RIBA Regional Ambassador for Sustainability, promoting and developing UK education, design, and management skills across the MENA region, and was elected the UAE country representative on the RIBA Gulf Chapter. She founded, curates, and presents the Chapters’ ongoing “Sustainable Development Series” to share awareness, knowledge, skills, tools, and best practice with built environment professionals across the GCC and to showcase projects, methods, procedures, strategies, and tools to empower and equip us all to meet the challenges faced in delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals across the region.