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Twenty/Twenty: the mentee’s view

“Participating in Twenty/Twenty was probably the most important year in my career to date.” 

“Helped grow my confidence tenfold.”

The DBA’s Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme pairs rising industry leaders with established design pioneers for a 12-month one-to-one mentoring relationship.

Here, two previous mentees – 2LK’s Head of People Rob Short and Sail Creative’s Founder Mandy Barker – discuss their experiences of the programme.

Deciding to participate:

Rob Short, Head of People, 2LK

Rob: “I was moving into a new role at 2LK, quite different from what I’d done there in the past. I felt that Twenty/Twenty would provide much-needed guidance on how to build my knowledge, expertise and confidence to deliver on my own expectations, as well as those of my colleagues.”

Growing confidence:

Rob: “After quickly establishing trust, my mentor and I immediately had honest and open conversations. My mentor listened (and understood) my challenges, and together we worked on new skills and techniques to help me develop confidence in those areas where I’d previously lacked knowledge or experience. This process immediately benefitted my new position – I was able to have challenging conversations that I might have previously shied away from.” 

Mandy Barker, Founder & Creative Director, Sail Creative

Mandy: “Twenty/Twenty mentoring helped grow my confidence tenfold. I received robust, solid advice from my mentor and found it invaluable how he shared his experiences. He didn’t tell me ‘what to do’ but provided an open forum to discuss potential scenarios and solutions. I have now got better boundaries around valuing what we deliver with confidence, and I am stronger at negotiating and saying no.”

The right match:

Mandy: “DBA Twenty/Twenty matched me with a mentor who complimented my skills and expertise. His experience, knowledge and openness helped me to laser focus in on decisions with the team, workload and future visioning. We talked through bigger picture thinking, down to the detail around numbers, profit and turnover and I shadowed his Glasgow studio for a day, meeting the strategy team to see how they did things. It was reassuring to see the quality of work for an established studio was similar to that of Sail, and that confirmed we were on the right track.”

Positive influence:

Rob: “The way that I work has definitely been positively influenced. I feel more personally invested in and informed about those areas that affect the day-to-day running of an agency. This has over time led to other team members, at all levels of the business, relying on me to have a more informed point of view.”

Mandy: “My mentor was a strong cheerleader and advocate of what I had already achieved and where Sail was going – something I often forget to celebrate – and his encouragement led to us entering (and winning in) the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards.

I would whole heartedly recommend the experience not only from a personal development standpoint, but also in terms of return on investment to the business. Sail’s turnover increased 31% during the Covid-19 pandemic and my growth in confidence through the mentoring was definitely a factor towards this.”

Getting the most out of the process:

Rob: “Participating in Twenty/Twenty was probably the most important year in my career to date. This is a two-way commitment, but I think that the more mentees put in to the process, the more they will get out of it. Despite geographical challenges, my mentor and I met every six weeks with a clear agenda, in part laid out by the DBA, but also dictated by my own needs and desires.

My mentor improved my thinking and provided me clear pathways to pursue my strengths and to embrace (and then develop) my weaknesses. Our relationship grew to such an extent that it still exists to this day, well beyond the ‘official’ year-long programme. 

My mentor’s impartial help continues to be invaluable – whether it’s to bounce ideas, seek advice or just have someone see the bigger picture without any emotional attachment.”


Image credits: 

Medien Stürmer | Unsplash

Rob Short, 2LK

Mandy Barker, Sail Creative 


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