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How BPS Birmingham is turning mentoring on its head

News Categories: aspirefutureleaders

As an organisation committed to the advancement of Birmingham’s business professional services community, it should come as no surprise that BPS Birmingham Future is leading the way when it comes to innovative methods of mentoring and development.

Mentoring usually involves a young or junior individual learning from someone more advanced in their career. However, more experienced members of the BPS community can benefit considerably from having a younger mentor by participating in the ‘reverse’ mentoring scheme run by Birmingham Future’s Mentoring Academy and piloted alongside Colmore Business District .

How do participants benefit?

Our mentees learn a lot from reverse mentoring, especially if they’re looking to develop their understanding of unfamiliar areas of the business landscape like social media, or get a new perspective from a younger professional.

“Reverse mentoring is great,” says Wesleyan COO Liz McKenzie, who was paired with Hattie D’Souza, Account Manager and Head of Social Strategy at EAST VILLAGE. “Hattie is a young professional starting her career. She is our future customer, so hearing how she sees her financial future, without a financial services bias, is really refreshing and stimulating. She also keeps me on my toes in how she interacts with businesses that she decides to use. I’ve learnt loads, have a fresh perspective, and, hopefully, have been of some use to Hattie too.”

Mentors indeed do benefit – they get the chance to learn from experienced professionals, as well as potentially influence their decision-making process. Mentors also make a very valuable contact who may well be able to help with their own personal and professional progression. Acting as a reverse mentor is also a great way of getting out of your comfort zone; a lot of young people might incorrectly believe they don’t have anything to offer a business leader, but they really do! Young professionals have a number of skills and a unique perspective to offer on technology, internet-driven culture, new product development, travel, and work/life balance in the era of mobile working.

Liz’s mentor Hattie agrees that reverse mentoring is hugely valuable to both parties: “Having benefitted from the Future Mentoring Academy’s schemes as both a mentor and a mentee, I jumped at the opportunity to join the Reverse Mentoring pilot. As soon as I met Liz I knew that the decision was the right one: there aren’t many situations where people at my career stage have the chance to sit down for breakfast with the COO of a nationwide financial services group! I think both of us have learnt so much from each other, benefitting from sitting with someone from a completely separate sector, with a different level of seniority and outlook on today’s issues. I’ve found the scheme really fruitful and I would strongly recommend it.”

If you’re interested in the reverse mentoring programme, applications will be open for the next cohort later this year – please email to register your interest, or to provide any feedback or comments about your experiences.