Lan was a mentee on the Mentoring Women in Business programme between 2018-2019.
Lan is a graduate of our Mentoring Women in Business Programme, taking part between November 2018 and November 2019. Read here about her experiences as a mentee, and what sort of impact working with her mentor Vineet had on her and her business.
Lan, from Vietnam, runs a start-up that supports students and graduates to get internships so they can start a career that they love. After working on her business for a few months, she realised that she lacked skills in HR, marketing, sales and business development. She heard about the Mentoring Women in Business Programme from a friend who had just graduated from the programme, who recommended Lan to apply.
Lan was happy that the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women matched her with mentor Vineet, Senior Director of Marketing at a software company based in Singapore. He had a lot of experience in marketing, HR, strategy and running a start-up, areas with which Lan needed support. During their first meeting, Lan discussed what challenges she was facing, such as a lack of clients and not knowing how to build a strong foundation for her business. The pair worked through these challenges over the year during their weekly meetings.
One of the main things the pair focused on was Lan’s marketing, to better promote her business to gain new clients. As she was working with limited resources, Vineet encouraged Lan to focus her marketing online to help cut down costs. Additionally, with her mentor’s support Lan was able to redevelop her marketing materials to make them more engaging to potential new clients.
The pair also discussed HR, such as improving recruitment strategies and team management. Lan is now able to recruit and manage her staff more effectively. She has learnt how to take the time to listen to her staff to improve the culture in her business and increase retention. She reflects: “Salary is important, of course, but staff need so much more to be happy: a good business culture, learning opportunities, shared vision and being listened to. Having a happy team increases productivity.” Over the mentoring year, Lan has grown her team from five to ten people, and also has some interns now. She makes sure that she shares what she has learnt from her mentor with her staff to support their development too.
Vineet would always say: ‘Focus, focus, focus!’ and ‘Be strong and confident.’ Things I really needed to hear. I’ve written them down as daily reminders.
Working with her mentor has built Lan’s confidence and made her more focused: “Vineet would always say: ‘Focus, focus, focus!’ and ‘Be strong and confident.’ Things I really needed to hear. I’ve written them down as daily reminders.” Now Lan knows that for a small company, diversifying isn’t always the best and most efficient thing to do. When she was feeling alone running her business and wanted to give up, talking to her mentor encouraged her to keep going and improve. Vineet also helped her to make better and quicker decisions, showing her how she can assess risks and returns. Even if something goes wrong, Lan now knows how to learn from it.
As a result of being on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme and working with her mentor, Lan has seen her revenue increase significantly. She has signed on four new customers, and has expanded contracts with pre-existing clients. Instead of meeting with just any potential client, as she used to do before, she now focuses on the ones that seem most likely, helping to ensure that she uses her limited resources effectively. Her rate of converting prospects to clients is much higher now.
Vineet and Lan completed their mentoring year in November 2019. When she sent him a thank you email, Vineet told her that she can always reach out to him if she has any problems in the future. Lan said: “I know he’s very busy, so I’m really happy about this. I hope one day I can meet him and thank him in person.”
Find out more about our Mentoring Women in Business programme
Mentoring Women in Business is one of the Foundation's three flagship programmes, which also include HerVenture and the Road to Growth. The programme matches women entrepreneurs from low and middle income countries with professionals of any gender anywhere in the world.
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