In January 2017, I identified the need for a mentor. This was due to the fact that at my place of work, I was the only person working on Quality Management Systems. This made it hard for me to learn and develop as a Quality Professional. It also made me doubt myself and my abilities as I always felt I was fighting a losing battle alone.
Therefore, I raised my concerns, and my solution of a mentor to my Line Manager who agreed it would benefit me, and the company. I used the CQI “find a consultant page” and came across Jennie Clark. It was agreed that Jennie and I would have mentoring sessions once a month.
The structure of the day:
The standard set up we agreed was that in the morning we would discuss QA related issues that had occurred within the company (this included updates of the manual and other documented information, training sessions preparation, internal audits and review of NCR’s) and in the afternoon, focus on my continuous development portfolio. We set an objective that I would be a Chartered Professional by the end of 2017. I felt this was somewhat ambitious at the time!
On some occasions, Jennie arranged for me to go for day visits to some of her other clients to build my knowledge and understanding of how Quality worked in environments outside my own organisation. I found this extremely useful and learnt a lot from this hands-on approach learning. It also gave me the opportunity to network.
Jennie’s teaching methods:
Jennie would usually start the sessions by recapping the activities from the last session. Jennie often gave me work to do outside of the sessions, based around research of different Quality and Business areas. This was useful as Jennie gave me the foundation of the information, but it usually helped me by doing further learning on my own.
Jennie also used a lot of visual material. When explaining and teaching me things, it was not unusual for Jennie to draw on a piece of paper or on the white board. This method of learning really worked for me as it was clear and obvious what Jennie was trying to portray.
Benefits of having a mentor and why I would recommend a mentor:
I always thought I was knowledgeable about Quality. I had done several Quality related courses. But having Jennie’s support pushed me that bit further. Over the past year, I have learnt so much about myself, about Quality, and made a great friend. I went from feeling like I was alone and having little confidence to winning an international award and becoming Chartered all in a short space of time. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done that without the support of my mentor. Having one on one sessions really helps. It means you can go at your own pace and experiment with different types of learning methods. In the whole time I had Jennie as my mentor, not once did I see a Powerpoint presentation. I knew the death by Powerpoint wasn’t an effective way for me to learn, as did Jennie. So, Jennie tailored a program which worked well for me. Everyone is different, and everyone has different ways they like to learn, so having a mentor means that you get that extra bit of guidance.
I would highly recommend a mentor, and highly recommend Jennie Clark. I learnt so much and made a great friend in the process. Even though Jennie came in once a month, she was always helpful the other days through emails and phone calls. She gave so much to teach me and wanted to help me. I think this is what makes a good mentor.