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What does mentoring even mean?

Isobel Graham.pngThe concept of a mentor has always been a grey area for me.

If someone gives you career advice, are they your mentor?

Is there a minimum number of times someone provides advice before they become your mentor?

Do you need to ask someone to be your mentor formally?

And, how would you even go about asking someone to be your mentor?

Or am I overcomplicating it…

In July I attended The Gender Inclusion Network’s mentoring dinner, sponsored by Chubb. It was the perfect opportunity to answer some of my questions, find out a bit more about what it takes to progress in the insurance and long-term savings industry and refine my networking skills.

It was an insightful evening and mentors were candid about their career progression and assured me that there is no such thing as a stupid question, especially working in an industry plagued by an acronym-soup of organisations, products and regulations. It was hugely beneficial learning about the breadth of roles in the sector and the importance of nurturing networking relationships as your career progresses.

Like many others, I’m the first in my family to go to university and then go on to join the financial services sector. Therefore, I have been pretty reliant on the advice and counsel from my peers on the unwritten rules of office etiquette, the minefield of email language and navigating the ambiguity around negotiating for a promotion, salary and bonus. As our ‘Tackling the gender seniority gap’ research found, women are far less likely to ask or haggle, and that’s why mentoring is paramount in supporting the progression of women in our sector and dinners like GIN’s are incredibly important.

The mentoring dinner was part of a series organised by the Gender Inclusion Network, an excellent industrywide network which brings together like-minded people across the industry. I sit on the Committee, and we aim to share and leverage best practice, promote the business results diversity delivers and drive cultural change across the insurance industry – and mentoring is a vital way we can achieve our goal and empower women.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a mentor as ‘an experienced and trusted adviser’, and I’ve been lucky enough, during my short career, to have received advice, support and inspiration from my colleagues in the ABI and now by senior leaders across the insurance and long-term savings industry.

You can sign up to the Gender Inclusion Network’s newsletter here, and keep up to date with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Last updated 12/07/2019