THE RISE OF THE MENTEES The headline is unapologetically borrowed from the Star Wars lexicon, but Rise’s mentor programme is much more than a master/ apprentice scheme. If anything, it has served to underscore the value of professional development in technology-based markets; education not being an exclusively grass roots issue, but also one of retention and empowerment for industry talent. As Rise’s 2020 mentor scheme gets underway, we begin a series of ‘talking heads’ features with mentors and mentees from previous programmes to understand the true value of professional development initiatives. We begin with Rise founder and co-director Sadie Groom, and Lauren Myers, marketing specialist, EMEA, at Ross Video fielding questions from TVBEurope’s James McKeown Sadie, you’ve now had the benefit of being both mentor and mentee during the course of your career. To set the scene, just take us through how valuable that mentorship was for your personal and professional development… SADIE GROOM (SG): Having started a business at the ripe young age of 26 I have always sought some sort of mentoring whether that has been in the form of someone I have paid to do it or just someone with more experience than me. At the start of Bubble [Agency], this really focussed on the development of the business and one of my first mentors (an old boss) worked with me on the very practical parts of running P&Ls, proposals, tax and managing people; all totally invaluable as this information wasn’t really available in one place and relevant to PR agencies. My next major mentor came in 2012 when I was going through a bit of a career crisis and wondering whether to give up the business and get a ‘proper job’. At the time I had a young child, was exhausted and just wanted a change of scene (and maybe a bit less pressure). My mentor was the head of communications at ITV, an amazing woman who drew out of me what I loved about my job and running a business and how I could create a change of scene in other ways. This was invaluable as this was the point in my career that I decided to grow the business and my change of scenery was a new office. Do you still use some form of mentoring now? SG: I now have a business coach that I have been working with for the past 18 months. People often ask the difference between mentoring and coaching – personally I see them as very much the same (though I am paying Martin). I work with him in a structured way to help me achieve my goals and work through issues, he frequently sends me books and articles to read and so is increasing my knowledge and these are all things I do with my mentees. We also play golf together and he’s a lot better than me, so I get some free golf coaching too!
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Lauren, how did you become aware of the Rise mentor programme, and what made you want to get involved? LAUREN MYERS (LM): I first heard about it at the BVE show in 2018. In a conversation with industry colleagues I was informed about the programme and advised to apply. I had not long been working in the broadcast industry and thought that the programme would be a great opportunity to learn more about the market and develop a network of likeminded women. I also loved their goal of ensuring there is a diverse and gender balanced workforce. What were your expectations going into the programme, and what did you want to get out of it? LM: As I had never had a mentor before, I wasn’t sure what to fully expect from the programme. I knew it would give me an opportunity to build my network within the industry and meet like-minded individuals. When I started the programme, I was relatively early on in my career and new to the broadcast industry. I wanted to use this opportunity to increase my industry knowledge, develop my own personal skills and learn from Sadie. Sadie, drawing on your own experiences, what kind of platform did you hope the Rise initiative would offer to women both in the industry, and those looking to gain a foothold in it? SG: There were three main goals when I set up Rise. One, to provide a network of women in the industry where we could get together and share experiences and learn from them. Two, to show all of the industry that there are women in the industry – we don’t tend to put ourselves forward as much for articles and speaking opportunities so to give women a platform and the confidence to do this. This also has the result of showing younger women that it is a great industry to work in. Thirdly, to inspire women that they can go to the top of the industry in whatever role, however technical – hence the name Rise. Last but not least to involve men in the mission to change the status quo.
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