Mentoring is as good for the mentor as the mentee

Mentoring enables creative businesses to see the value of advice from someone who has been there and done it, says Jackie Brenan.

The UK has some of the world’s best and brightest creative talent. At Nesta, an innovation charity, our Creative Business Mentor Network provides mentors for ambitious creative firms that want to grow.

Over the past five years, we have seen impressive results from mentoring and are keen to encourage the take-up of volunteer mentoring across the sector. Recently, we gathered the views of creative businesses, and many told us that they either are working with a mentor or would like to work with one.

Largely as a result of the mentoring programme, Brandwave has recorded a marked improvement in performance. The company has already achieved 40% profit growth this year.

However, they also told us that they are not always easy to find. This is where our Creative Business Mentor Network comes in. We provide access to a large number of commercially successful business mentors who can help take ambitious businesses from the TV, advertising, digital-media and film sectors to the next level.

The mentors who signed up for our latest programme, which was launched in April, included Chris Hirst, the chief executive of Grey London; Tim Bevan, co-founder of Working Title Films; and Tim Bonnet, chairman of Creston Communications.

The network, now in its fourth year, has helped many creative companies build business success in a short time. One such organisation is Brandwave, a sports-marketing agency. We teamed up Brandwave with technology marketing expert Sarah du Heaume from Just Media.

Improve relationships and find the right course

With more than 10 years of mentoring experience and 20 years’ work in the field, Sarah knows how to push companies to grow by focusing on improving relationships, looking at where they want to go and addressing any internal issues that may have been overlooked.

Our mentors get a lot out of the process, and this often turns out to be reciprocal. A recent mentor noted that it was far from being a one-way street – her mentee subtly gave her advice and guidance at the same time.

Their mentoring involved monthly sessions at which Brandwave directors met Sarah to discuss areas of improvement and develop an action plan for change. Goals were set, targets identified and a strategic plan was written. Sarah’s approach was very encouraging, but, at the same time, she challenged Brandwave to think bigger and act more boldly in the market. It was the perfect combination to build the confidence and clarity the company needed to expand.

Largely as a result of the mentoring programme, Brandwave has recorded a marked improvement in performance. The company now has aggressive financial targets and has already achieved 40% profit growth this year. Thinking of itself as a bigger company, and believing in itself, have been key to Brandwave’s growth in both size and persona.

Our mentors get a lot out of the process, and this often turns out to be reciprocal. Jane Turton, chief operating office of All3Media and a recent mentor, noted that it was far from being a one-way street – her mentee subtly gave her advice and guidance at the same time.

So, mentoring can be a very satisfying experience, not only for the mentees but also for the mentors, who enjoy the satisfaction of helping someone who needs support, as well as the opportunity to learn about new ideas, technologies and businesses.



To find out more about being a mentor or mentee as part of Nesta’s programme, visit www.nesta.org.uk/project/creative-business-mentor-network

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