Richard Branson once said: “The spirit of mentoring should be embedded in all businesses,” and here at Virgin, we couldn’t agree more.
How did your mentoring relationship with Holly start?
Our relationship goes back over five years. Richard wanted me to see if I could help Holly as she was thinking about her longer-term career options, after having qualified as a doctor. It was important to help her understand fully the structure of the group and its incredible assets and then to start thinking about what her best role might be within Virgin. So we gradually got to know one another and started a dialogue which has continued to this day.
What does mentoring mean to you?
I think the core objective of mentoring is simply to try to help an individual make the best of themselves. It’s providing an independent sounding board for questions or anxieties to help the mentee to take decisions and then go about achieving what they want to achieve. With Holly it’s very straightforward – she’s very together and has a strong sense of purpose.
There are not many things more satisfying than feeling that you’ve been able to positively help someone develop their career. That’s really all a mentor should look for as a measure of success: have you made a positive difference to somebody’s sense of achievement? And you get a lot back too. As a mentor you have to try to see things through the other person’s eyes; that’s a very positive experience and it teaches you a lot.
For example, my conversations with Holly have certainly changed my view of what purpose means in business and what the balance should be between profit and positive social effects and outcomes.
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