This is my first blog, so bear with me! I’m going to talk about mentoring as 27 October was National Mentoring Day. I probably don’t have a common view when it comes to mentoring, or who knows, maybe I do but this is what I think good mentoring looks like.
A magic key
To be honest, thinking about mentoring, I was never really a fan. An awkward, organised meeting with someone you don’t really know telling you how to be better. At least that was my view. I’d been involved in talent development programmes in the past where you’d be given a mentor, someone who you have nothing in common with and who didn’t have a lot of interest in you but maybe I’d just had bad experiences.
I was given the impression a mentor was a ‘magic key to success’. I’d see super successful people and somewhere in their career they’d have an amazing mentor. When each of my mentorships failed miserably, I decided it wasn’t for me.
What good looks like
When I started in HMRC Digital, I was a Business Analyst and I loved it! Digital was like nowhere else I’d worked and it was so relaxed, giving you the freedom to explore your own personal developments. After doing the Business Analyst role for a year, I started looking at progression and set my sights on a Scrum Master role and that is where my new mentoring experience began.
I guess until this point, I never really considered it mentoring, maybe that was why it was so successful. I asked one of the Scrum Masters to show me the ropes and that’s exactly what he did. He made me present the Scrum framework to him over and over, know it inside out and explain why we’d done what we did. He’d always say we need to show ‘what good looks like’ and I’ve tried to always work to that. He gave me the opportunity to be the Scrum Master on a team alongside my Business Analyst role, giving me the practical experience to backup all my theory. He’d even ask me quick-fire questions in passing just to keep me on my toes!
Women in Digital
Thanks in part to my mentors support, I got my promotion to Scrum Master, but the hard work didn’t stop there. My mentor, now my line manager, would continue to push me to be the best I could be and encouraged me to take every opportunity that came my way. This often meant running Scrum presentations and providing tours of the centre.
On one of these occasions I was giving HMRC Chief People Officer, Esther Wallington a tour when she asked me about my lanyard, it was from a DWP ‘Women in Digital’ event I had attended. I told Esther about my aspirations to start an HMRC Women in Digital group. Esther was really keen to support my idea, and became my sponsor for the network, putting me in touch with amazing contacts to help make my idea a reality.
Finding the key
In March this year, after lots of effort and support from my colleagues as well as Esther and her Private Office, and of course my Line Manager, the first HMRC Women in Digital event was held. For me it was a real achievement, I’d made my idea a reality and the feedback was all positive.
So I guess my message is, your mentor should be someone you trust, someone you know and can have a laugh with, someone you respect but who equally respects you. It should be a real relationship not a fake one just trying to tick a box, because if you genuinely want to succeed, it’s the real connections that really matter.
I think I probably missed this point earlier in my career, and although it sounds cheesy, I found my ‘magic key’. His name is Dave Hatch, he’s a huge character in our centre and we’d all be lost without him.
If you’d like to get in touch about our Women in Technology network (we’ve rebranded as we’ve grown outside of just Digital) then please leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Chloe Walker, Scrum Master and Women in Technology Network Coordinator
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