The benefits of mentoring through a Structur3d programme
In this blog, we asked three mentees about the Structur3dpeople Leadership Mentoring Programme and how it's benefitted them. Their mentor, Bijna Dasani shares valuable insights from the programme.
I signed up to the mentoring programme at a tough point in my career. I had been made redundant from a ‘dream job’ and taken a new job that in many ways I felt didn’t measure up to the job I had lost. I was suffering from some workplace ‘self-esteem issues’ as a result of the rejection of losing the dream role.
For me the most amazing thing about the mentoring was the opportunity to hear about the similar experiences and challenges that my fellow mentees were going through. It really help put things in perspective and remind me that we all go through ups and downs, and everyone was so supportive and kind to each other, it brought back a faith in not only myself but in others. Often the group also provided the peace of mind that I had made the right decision about a particular situation.
What was also particularly empowering was hearing from the strong, insightful and successful women who spoke to and mentored us throughout the course. They too had stories of being pushed aside or belittled in the career and yet had managed to rise up and be fantastically successful.
The mentoring programme came for me at a time when I was exploring a lot about myself, where I want my career to go and what my values are. The sessions helped to cement this exploration, provide a structure and also to motivate me to stick to my action plan.
A year after my redundancy I feel like am a stronger, more experienced and wise person, and that I have so much to offer and lots of excitement ahead.
My name is Gaynor O'Flynn. I am an artist. Since the 90’s I have embodied technology and digital interactivity into my art practice. So I was somewhat a wild card amongst my fellow female mentees but I was made to feel welcome and fully validated as a female tech innovator.
Structur3dpeople bring great mentors on board who generously give their time, confidence and inspiration to the group.
The year has helped me to develop a more professional attitude when approaching the technology sector. I have developed a better understanding of the breadth of my creative, practical and technical knowledge as well as ensure I do not under value my skills, talents or time.
Tech is at the heart of a creative industry and as such it is so important that women step up as leaders, innovators and decision makers and that we overcome the gender divide in the sector. Our worldview is critical in such an important industry that it is now so central to every aspect of modern life. Also change starts at an individual level and so every woman in tech counts on this journey to gender parity and equality.
I was probably a reluctant mentee being more than half way through my career and having had a few mentors over the years.
Over the year I have started to think differently, realising that I have put up my own boundaries based on what society, workplace, etc. expect of me. I have been inspired about the people in the mentoring group and obviously the mentor herself.
The biggest learning is that no matter where you are in your life or what stage you are in your career, having a mentor is paramount to your own self development.
Not all mentors are the same so understanding what you need at that point in your life / career will help you get the most out of mentoring.
The Mentor: Bijna Dasani
I instantly fell in love with the passion and enthusiasm bubbling at the 2015 Women in Tech (WiT) event Rav Bumbra invited me to speak at, and since then my curiosity for the challenges and corresponding needs for WiT continued to magnify.
Having mentored various demographics over the years, I approached the journey with my first WiT cohort with an entirely open-mind, aware each mentee and cohort present individual needs and lenses to life.
Our first session was introductory for the first few minutes with pleasantries. As soon as we started to discuss key challenges, the group warmed to sharing extremely raw and personal experiences which led to highlighting a series of shared denominators which continued as core themes throughout the year.
As we rapidly transitioned from comfort zones to our sharing our inner-most feelings and most extreme experiences, we found solace in commonality. Realising we had all, as professional and passionate career-woman, faced some synergy of challenges was strangely reassuring.
I left feeling lighter and in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, thinking about what I’d really do ‘if I wasn’t afraid’ at the next session…
And when that session arrived, we connected instantly on the note we’d parted on. Yet, to my surprise, there were several significant changes in the mindset of the group. Whilst one mentee was now contemplating the wrong (career) decision, for the right practical (personal) reasons, another was contemplating a strategy to start invoicing for consultancy and brokerage services she has provided networks with for years, and another was contemplating leaving a working environment that was preventing her from sourcing the right environment and associated progression...there was a clear emergence of confidence and new thinking in this transitionary state.
And each mentee encouraged the other to progress with the right changes for the right reasons, regardless of the perceived consequences.
As we reached the final session, the cohort had significantly evolved from its initial state – more confident, buzzing with energy and bonded as a tribe of confidants with a set of clear, common values that will drive friendships and peer support moving forward, outside of the formal structure of the mentorship programme.
And it’s evident the end of this cohort’s year is simply the seed of many new beginnings, lenses, friendships and game-changing decisions. The journey has just begun.
It’s been a truly enriching and rewarding year and I am excited about the next cohorts upcoming arrival!