The Impact of Role Models on Aspirations and Achievements

Over the last 6 weeks we’ve seen a high number of work experience placements across a number of our businesses. Through partnering with Speaker for Schools we’ve had the opportunity meet a lot of young people and talk to them, not just about working in our industry, but about what inspires them and where they see themselves in the future.

These placements are so important to us as we recognised the role that our teams play in helping to shape their confidence, skills and ambitions. There has been a lot of research that looks at the importance of role models, or mentors, in shaping people from a young age, but also how important it is to surround yourself with these types of people throughout each life stage.

When the work placement students join us, we make sure to get them involved as soon as we can and feeling part of the team. We allot time for them to sit with each area of our business to ask questions, find out more about the business and get hands-on. Whilst we want them to take initiative, we’re mindful that we continue to offer and show our support, hopefully giving them increased confidence to do a little more on their own as the week goes on.

Confidence and self-belief is absolutely key, and more work needs to be done in helping to support young talent. Speaker for Schools are taking great steps in giving students tools to help them achieve their goals, but there is certainly more businesses can do to support the initiatives – externally and internally.

As I mentioned, it’s crucial to have mentoring opportunities in different life stages. We currently work with Women Ahead for their Mentoring Scheme, which matches our colleagues with external mentors. External mentoring allows for an unbiased, open approach, as well as learning from professionals outside of our industry. In addition, our Directors get to mentor females out of industry too, which is a great learning experience for both parties.

Internally we run a one-day workshop to upskill people to become a mentor.One of our current mentors, Caroline Brock, is absolutely loving her role as mentor and explains, “I’m firmly in the camp that the only asset any business really has is its people. Supporting and developing those individuals is key to their personal success, career progression and to the long-term health of the business. And mentoring is such a great part of that process; to share experiences, explore new ideas, offer advice and to have a ‘go to’ person who can be relied on and trusted. Life is a continuous learning curve for us all and there’s nothing more rewarding than sharing those learnings and seeing that it makes a difference.

I’m always so excited to hear the results of topics that we’ve discussed, how ideas that we’ve shaped are implemented and received, and to see individuals that I spend time with grow in confidence. Sometimes just a different way of looking at things can be all it takes. I love that it helps and find it one of the most rewarding areas of my work.”

We also have colleagues in the business that are currently being mentored. One example of this is Anna Houldsworth in our Luxury Division, who is being mentored by our Commercial Director, as part of our leaders of the future programme. “Having been in the Motor Trade for the last 21 years, Jardine Motors are the only business to have offered me a mentor. This has really given me direction and a valuable insight and steer on my career development and what I need to assist me in my aspirations. It has given me a solid sounding board to openly discuss my thoughts, feelings and opinions with encouragement to be a strong female in a male-oriented environment. It has made me feel that I have a voice.”

I think Anna has really hit the nail on the head, in that mentoring offers a safe place to openly discuss a range of subjects and make you feel confident enough to have a voice. It’s especially important in an industry like ours, where it is particularly male-dominated, that we build confidence and encourage a more diverse workforce to speak up and stand out. Mentoring really does make a commercial difference.

Author: Clare Martin - Group HR Director