Marketing, Mentoring and Me by Michael O'Donnell, SQA

My experience of The Marketing Society Mentoring Programme

I knew that being a mentor would help my mentee achieve their goals, but I totally underestimated what I would learn about myself in the process…

When I graduated a decade ago, I was unaware of the diverse opportunities that were out there, and the different marketing specialisms I could work in. Looking back, I probably would have benefited from a mentor as a sounding board for future decisions. 

When the opportunity arose to join The Marketing Society Mentor Programme, I felt I had something to offer, I was at the stage I was happy to tell my story, and share my experiences with someone who required that guidance. One of my main motivations for getting involved was to play a more active role in our profession in Scotland.

I was paired with Chris, a recent graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University, he was at a crossroads, having options to go back to University for further study, or take the leap into a career in marketing. 

We had an initial getting to know each other meeting, this was extremely valuable as it let me better understand what he was looking to gain from me. It also provided him the opportunity to get to know me and the areas which I could best support him, from that initial meeting we agreed a regular cadence of get-togethers. 

I would meet Chris on a bi-monthly basis, with some contact via email in-between times. The meetings were structured and guided based on the things he was keen to get out the sessions, we worked on areas such as CV writing, interview prep, learning more about the marketing industry e.g. the differences between working client-side versus agency side. He was most interested in the agency side of things, so put him in contact with some agency contacts I had, while I could provide a good background on what it was like to work client-side.

What did I learn about myself?

Working with Chris allowed me time to reflect on where I was at in my own career, where am I going? What are the areas which I need to develop in? Were some of the questions that were naturally surfacing in my own head as I worked with him. 

If you had asked me prior to beginning mentoring, I would have probably said that the mentor mentee relationship was stacked in favour of the mentee, but in actual fact, in my experience, it is just as valuable for the mentor. I knew being a mentor would help me achieve some of the personal and professional objectives I had set myself, however on reflection; I have gained so much from being part of the mentor programme.

I have begun to recognise a difference in my own behaviours and mindset. I have developed key skills which have had a positive impact on my day-to-day role, I am increasingly conscious of my own behaviours and the impact they can have on other members in my team. I would say I now ask better questions, and I am a better listener. 

I would say that for organisations who are open and actively encourage staff to participate then this mentoring programme provide benefits for the company as well as the indvidual, as staff bring those skills and behaviours into their daily work. 

To play an active role in helping shape someone’s own career journey is extremely rewarding and invaluable experience, I have enjoyed my time as a mentor on the Marketing Society Programme and I would recommend it to anyone.  

Our industry is ever-changing, I feel that we have a duty to ensure the next generation of marketeers are supported and have the platform and networks to excel. 

Chris has now secured a job doing marketing while he finishes his Masters degree, and I look forward to working with a new mentee soon.

For further information on The Marketing Society Mentoring programme please click here if you're interested in becoming a mentor or a mentee please email Laura