Alex is a mentor on our Mentoring Women in Business programme. Here is an overview of her experiences on the programme with her first mentee Edditrice, who was she matched with between May 2018 and May 2019.
Alex, Insurer Consulting Leader within the Insurer Consulting Group at Marsh & McLennan, wanted to start doing volunteer work when she saw the Mentoring Women in Business Programme advertised on her company’s intranet. She jumped at the chance, as its flexibility – meeting the mentee remotely and based on the schedule you come up with together – made it easy to combine with her busy work travel diary. Alex also liked the international aspect, since she had spent ten years working abroad before moving back to the United Kingdom, and couldn’t wait to work with a woman entrepreneur from a different culture.
In May 2018, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women matched Alex with Edditrice from Tanzania, who owns a safari and travel company with her husband. Around this time, Alex attended a Marsh and McLennan event where she was able to speak to the Foundation’s previous mentees. Among the important words of advice she received from the mentees was that it’s crucial to spend plenty of time getting to know your mentoring partner. Whilst she was eager to start working on Edditrice’s business, building that foundation of trust and communication laid the groundwork for a successful, positive and mutually beneficial relationship.
Before starting the programme, Edditrice had identified her marketing and branding as one of the main areas she needed support with. Alex encouraged Edditrice to analyse competitors’ websites to see what she’d like to implement herself to create a stronger brand. After the pair had been working together for a few months, they started to see how different areas of building a business were interlinked. Edditrice would say, “Working on my marketing strategy made me think about what kind of customers I want.” It was all starting to come together.
Alex helped Edditrice prepare for the longer term, by supporting her to update her business plan, and be able to look at the bigger picture beyond her day to day work. Edditrice now feels confident that she knows how to grow her business over the next few years. In support of that work, the pair strengthened Edditrice’s sales strategy, made her HR processes more efficient, and streamlined her management processes. They also made sure that Edditrice’s corporate governance was in order. Although they finished their year together in May 2019, Edditrice is still keeping Alex up to date on her expansion. “Edditrice just sent me a picture of a new safari jeep she bought. She is also exploring how to use technology to explore new areas of her business.”
Alex shared how she was able develop her own skills set as she supported her mentee: “Edditrice needed support in sales, which I don’t have much experience with. I spoke to one of the sales experts at Marsh, who gave me some useful advice to share with Edditrice. I now know a lot more about sales than before.” As a woman running her own business, raising two children, and finishing her studies – Edditrice’s energy whilst balancing all of these priorities during the programme was a huge inspiration to Alex. “Working with Edditrice has made me realise how hard it is to run your own business. It has made me even more grateful for my job at a big company.”
At the start of the mentoring relationship, Edditrice was looking to her mentor to simply give her the answers to her problems. To help combat that way of thinking, Alex carefully challenged and encouraged Edditrice to work through her issues and come to solutions herself. Edditrice told us: “By being a great sounding board, my mentor helped me understand my own key strengths and the fact that the solutions I seek are right from within.” It made Alex realise how important it is to listen, and not just try to find a solution right away, which she now applies in her job as well. The main outcome that Alex saw in her mentee was her increased confidence, which Edditrice agrees with: “The biggest change is that with more confidence gained through the programme, my business is more focused and I’m now more aware of what I want for my business and what I need to do to achieve the milestones.”
In November 2019, Alex started a second mentoring year with a different mentee. She is trying to encourage colleagues at MMC to join the programme as well. “Some men might feel that this programme is only for women, but that’s not true at all. Mentees will benefit from a different viewpoint, regardless of gender.”
Click here for more information on our Mentoring Women in Business programme. You can help empower over 100,000 more women like Edditrice to create better futures for themselves, their families, their communities and the world by supporting our 100,000 Women Campaign.