If you have been lucky enough to receive mentorship throughout your career, you know how priceless it was.
A mentor is someone who believes in you and your skills. They are someone who isn't afraid of investing time in you, valuing your ambition and potential as much as their own free time. A mentorship can make a huge difference – both for the talent and the mentor's.
To learn more about the topic, we reached out to Sedge Beswick, Founder and Managing Director of influencer marketing agency SEEN Connects.
Mentoring the Future
Throughout school and my career there have always been people who have given me the gift of time. Time to review my thinking, time to help me with various challenges, time to educate me on how to step things up a notch – ultimately, time to mentor me. They were family friends, colleagues, friends of friends – people who I still chat to today.
Many people ask me, ‘how can I get a mentor? Where do I find mentorship?’.
I believe that mentors will gravitate towards you if they can sense your enthusiasm and openness, because they’ll want to support you on your journey. Having a bit of get-up-and-go shows that you have the potential and ambition to listen and learn from others. When it comes to people that I mentor, or have mentored in the past, it is that ambition that I am drawn to and that excites me.
At the grand ol’ age of 32, there are two main standout unofficial mentors that have really had the longest impact on me as a person. First up, my art teacher at school, Mrs Phillips, and ASOS’ second ever employee; James Hart.
I was fortunate enough to be privately educated from the age of 12, where most of my left-brained pals were setting their sights on becoming doctors, barristers, or data scientists (most of whom have been successful on their life plans). But personally, my right-brained aspirations couldn’t have been more different. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and as a result, how the hell to get there. I just knew I had an out-of-control imagination and I wanted to creatively bring that to life.
Mrs Phillips was the first person to address this and to tell me, often in an after-hours art session, what I needed to hear. I didn’t have to conform to another way of thinking or working. My biggest success would be understanding how my brain works, and why and how I approach things this way, and this knowledge largely stemmed from those conversations.
Then there was James Hart. As soon as I started at ASOS I was bouncing off the walls. I absolutely loved that place and my excitement and passion for the business was paramount - James saw this immediately. I would go to him with ideas and (sometimes terrible) suggestions, and we’d talk them through and he’d help shift them into a reality.
Neither Mrs Phillips nor James were asked to be my mentors, it was a role that they naturally took on through getting to know me and understanding what made me tick. It was off the back of their support and guidance that I too decided to gift my time to people in a similar situation, or to people who wanted guidance or support.
Often, I’m able to give this support when I’m hiring, placing people in the right roles for their career, and connecting my network together based on mutual interests and specialities. This happens with ex-colleagues at ASOS and, in many cases, with influencers whose careers have taken off. I cannot tell you the number of P&Ls that I have created for influencers that were still building their audience and trying to understand themselves as a business. Plus, for celebrities who are striving for longevity in their lane, I have been on hand (and Whatsapp) to offer honest advice and insights to their careers.
So far, I have placed over 60 people in roles in the UK, something I take pride in doing, and I also enjoy piecing together the employment and career puzzles like this.
On a day-to-day basis, I run SEEN Connects – the innovative influencer marketing agency. One of our values is finding and fuelling talent, whether that is our insanely talented line-up of employees (although I appreciate I am biased), or the influencers and celebrities we partner with and giving them the support they need to be the best in their game. Naturally, the senior team have adopted this mentoring philosophy too.
For example, the senior team now take on some of the mentees that come my way looking for advice so I can scale support, and we’ve set up a ‘Connects Careers Day’ where our team offer time slots for school leavers and grads who need advice or direction on where to go next… I ended up hiring 3 people from this event too! We also partner with Inspire, a local education charity whose mission is to improve young people’s access to work and academic achievement. Through Inspire, we host interns to work with the team in our offices to garner real-life working experience, because we all remember just how hard it is to find the door, let alone get your foot in it.
I’ll attest ‘til I’m blue in the face- mentoring matters. It can be the difference between wasting and fuelling potential. Often in our careers we get lost, we battle imposter syndrome, and we get overwhelmed by expectations. There is much return for both parties through mentoring.
So, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been around the block a few times, mentoring is definitely something I encourage you all to get involved with!