Topic of the edition : Mentoring

14 Aug 2011 17:59 | Deleted user

The art of Mentoring: the EPWN program
Interview of Ines O'Donovan by Alessandra Zocca, PWI

Mrs. Ines O'Donovan- PhD Researcher, Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching, MBA Lecturer and Public Speaker, Founder and leader of the European Mentoring Program for the European Professional Women Network (EPWN) and of the Mentoring Program for the Nice – Côte d’Azur local affiliate.- was interviewed by Alessandra Zocca (PWI).

Over the last six years the Mentoring Program has become one of the main advantages of EPWN for its members. You - as founder and leader of the program - have achieved outstanding results, congratulations on this success! And a big thank you for your commitment and hard work!

Thanks a lot, Alessandra! It is good to hear that my contribution is appreciated … I have put a lot of my passion, energy and time into the Mentoring program.

When I initiated the European Mentoring Program over 2 years ago, there were only 6 local Mentoring programs, all working on their own, now members of the EPWN can choose to participate in the European Mentoring program and/or in one of the 13 local mentoring programs that exist or are being created in 2011.

Actually, 26% of the EPWN members state that they joined the EPWN because of our Mentoring programs.

What inspired you to initiate working on Mentoring?

Alessandra, believe it or not, I recently found a note on my iPod, where in 2003 I wrote that I wanted to work on mentoring, isn’t that incredible?  I do not remember I wrote this but it obviously led my way.
Women tend to be shyer and often don’t dare to ask for help. Some might struggle to find the right person to help: I strongly believe that Mentoring is one of the most effective ways to learn and to advance personally and professionally. Actually, research suggests that working with a mentor in the world of business can make a big difference to the professional advancement of a mentee, for example:
•    In a study of nearly 500 Executive Women, 37% of them stated that having an influential mentor or sponsor is a  critical ingredient for success; four out of five considered this strategy as at least partly responsible for their own career advancement (Catalyst, 1995).
•    96% of Executives in Fortune 500 companies believe that Mentoring is an important developmental tool (van Collie, 1998)

How have you developed the European Mentoring Program for EPWN?

When I started running Mentoring Programs, I began with a local Mentoring Program to support the needs expressed by our members in Nice. Then, in order to provide the most appropriate mentors to our mentees, we started to put the existing programs together and provided international mentors. It worked well and we continued to add other local PWNs. Indeed the breadth of our European network – over 3.000 members - ensures the possibility to have the right match between mentors and mentees.

Finally, at the beginning of 2010 at the EPWN’s annual meeting, we took the decision to institutionalize and structure the existing Mentoring Program into the current European Mentoring Program.

Ines, what is “Mentoring at EPWN”, exactly? How does it work? Which subjects can it cover? What are the key benefits?

Mentoring is a tool. It is a voluntary, developmental partnership through which a more experienced person (the mentor) shares her knowledge and skills to support someone else (the mentee) in achieving her career objectives. The Mentoring goals, and the processes to achieve these, are jointly defined by both mentor and mentee. Mentoring is a powerful tool for learning and growth for both parties.
At the EPWN we offer the matching of mentors and mentees, 1-to-1 relationships and group Mentoring. We provide online and offline training and support Mentoring pairs during their Mentoring relationship.
The subjects covered in Mentoring could include: career change, setting up a company, marketing your business/yourself, project management, going back to work after absence, public speaking, leadership, networking skills, cross-cultural communication and work-life balance, etc. It is up to the mentors and mentees to decide on which topic they want to work.
There are certainly benefits for both the mentees and the mentors, meaning it is a win-win process. Mentees can develop personally and professionally in a friendly and safe environment, enhance their international mindset and increase their confidence and ability to achieve goals. Mentors raise their professional market value and visibility and enlarge their professional networks. They learn a lot about how to help others to succeed. A wonderful feeling!
Obviously, it is important to respect some key conditions for the Mentoring process success, like mutual trust and confidentiality between mentor and mentee, courage to be open, honest and challenging, acceptance and appreciation of difference, open-mindedness and a willingness to learn in new ways and respect one another’s contributions and learning styles.

What have you learned from this experience?

I learned that I can create something on a bigger level. I experienced not only how to work with a wide variety of cultures beyond what I had done before but also how to bring them all together for the benefit of the EPWN members and the EPWN itself.

What is then, Ines, your vision for Mentoring?

My vision is that every person in the world has at least one mentor at any time of their life.

I am just in the process of creating a global Mentoring network on topics related to the personal and professional life... I have just trained my muscles with the EPWN Mentoring Program.

I am also teaching mentoring Mentoring and Coaching skills to current and future leaders in a worldwide MBA program in order to spread the power of Mentoring across the globe.

  Short Biography
Ines O’Donovan is PhD Researcher, Editor-in-Chief, MBA Lecturer and Public Speaker specialized in leadership, mentoring, employee engagement and well-being/stress management.
Her current research with Lancaster University takes her beyond Europe to countries across the world looking at the relationship between leader behavior and employee engagement. In addition to her research, Ines teaches online courses on 'Coaching and Mentoring for Leadership and Management' and 'International Human Resource Management' for MBAs.
Beyond that, Ines heads up the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching as Editor-in-Chief. She has authored articles on mentoring and the influence of leadership on well-being for a range of publications.
Between 2006 and 2011 Ines had been leading the Mentoring Program for the EuropeanPWN Nice – Côte d’Azur and the European Mentoring Program. She is also involved in other Mentoring activities, advising for instance W.I.N. on their Mentoring program as the Mentoring Expert.

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