Twenty/Twenty mentoring journeys: In conversation with… Jonny Westcar
Having mentored twice on the Twenty/Twenty programme, Jonny Westcar explains how the experience has brought unexpected curveballs and surprising benefits – read on to gleam top tips on guiding your mentee through the trials and triumphs of their business life. Could you be the next mentor to make a real difference to the success of our future industry leaders?
You’ve been a mentor twice. Tell us what you learned from the two journeys.
Jonny: “Both experiences were insightful and valuable. As a mentor, it’s not just about industry experience, it’s also about general life experiences – it helps when navigating situations similar to those you’ve gone through. You’re able to share your approaches and learnings from a relatable example.
The first time I mentored, within three months of our mentoring journey my mentee lost his job, but out of this we turned our relationship into long-term coaching. I thought about how else I could help him, introduced him to networks and we focused on creating some new options. No matter what the situation, you can use the time productively and positively to re-orient around your mentee’s needs.”
Jonny: “My current mentee is in a completely different situation. He has a smaller business – an agency of a dozen people – and he’s focused on stimulating growth and resolving the pressure of business growing pains.
He really helps me to help him, by providing a briefing email ahead of our sessions, including the top three things he wants to achieve out of the meeting and how he wants to take his business forward after each stage – this gives every discussion a clear sense of objectives. Importantly, it gives me time to digest, process and be more thoughtful about how to guide him.
It’s critical that as a mentor you understand the challenges your mentees face in the industry and how this impacts them as a person – it’s worthwhile knowing that you’re making a positive difference to their life as well as their business.”
Here are a couple of tips Jonny recommends mentors give their mentees from the get-go, to ensure it’s a mentee driven process:
– Give some thought to what you want to get-out of the process long-term
– Lay down an agenda for the programme itself
And his advice to mentors:
– Give people the opportunity to raise things. If your mentee isn’t particularly forthcoming, try to think things through and make things relatable to the person you’re mentoring.
Upon reflection, what impact has the programme had on yourself and the way you conduct your business?
Jonny: “It opens your mind to a different way of doing things.
Both my mentees have been running businesses in the same sector within the industry, but have faced very different scenarios – this pushes the mentor as much as it does the mentee. I’ve got loads of value out of the discussions I’ve had with my mentees, where we’re trying to solve an issue that they’re facing, but I end up discovering ways to apply the solutions we’ve come up with to a challenge I’ve been pondering. It’s like a reverse flow of positive stimulation – forcing up issues you didn’t consider as high priority.
It’s good to have friends in the industry – the mentees you work with who are running businesses are highly committed and they are inspiring people – it’s a pleasure to have the luxury of time with them.”
Why did you decide to apply to the Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme?
Jonny: “I’ve worked with the DBA for a long time, and after going from a corporate big scale agency to beginning a start-up and developing my own business, I felt that I’d reached a point in my career that being able to connect with other business leaders would be really beneficial.
I also wanted to help people who may have been in a similar situation to me now looking for support, which I felt able and ready to impart.
There’s a strong sense of community in the industry and the DBA is a great enabler of this. I value what the DBA do and wanted to be a part of it. The Twenty/Twenty programme also struck me as a good new source of inspiration and insight from fellow counterparts.
You’ve got to look at being a mentor or a mentee as an opportunity – you should grasp it while you can and no one else does it the way the DBA does.
It’s a pretty low investment as a mentor with very high developmental benefits and reward.”
DBA Twenty/Twenty mentoring
DBA Twenty/Twenty pairs rising industry leaders with established design pioneers for a 12-month one-to-one mentoring relationship. Why not think about what development you need right now, or what insight you can give back to the design industry. Find out more and apply.
Deadline for applications is Friday 3 December 2021.
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