MentorHER: Mentor’s Reflections #1 with Claudia De Carlo

In this series, we’re asking the women in our MentorHER community for their reflections on the programme.

Here’s the first instalment, from Zuhlke’s Claudia De Carlo.

Experiencing the ability to contribute to someone else’s growth is truly rewarding, and MentorHER is providing me with the means to make it a reality.

Only a couple of months after joining my current company, I received an exciting invitation to apply for a place on a mentoring programme, delivered by Manchester Digital, the leading organisation in Greater Manchester dedicated to fostering growth and success within the Tech community.

And so began my journey with MentorHER. This fully funded programme is carefully designed to inspire and empower women to grow and thrive in their careers in the Digital & Tech fields. Despite the progress made so far, the need to challenge stereotypes about which roles are suitable for men and women persists, and it’s still imperative to keep working to reduce the gender pay gap. Furthermore, the striking statistic that men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the role requirements, but women do so only if they meet 100% of them, is clear evidence that women need more confidence, and this is just one of the programme’s goals.

Initially I was uncertain about what I could contribute, I even considered applying as a mentee, grappling with doubts about my qualifications and achievements in my career. I had never experienced formal mentoring either. None of this stopped me from applying, with over two decades of diverse experience across industries and roles, I decided to get into it with dedication and passion and do for others what I wished I have had for myself.

MentorHER valued my skills, life experiences and attitude over academic endorsements and invited me to become a mentor. As a mentor, I feel I can make a meaningful impact on others while having an opportunity to develop my leadership and coaching skills.

There was an initial Kick-Off session that filled me with empowerment and enthusiasm. Bringing together mentors and mentees, it set the tone for the journey ahead. The carefully curated training materials are informative and engaging, and the support from the programme managers comprehensive.

This programme has already prompted me to reflect on my personal journey, to realise how far I’ve become. It’s given me the confidence to take on the challenge to be an inspiration to others, by drawing out what people have already in them, and giving them the tools to do whatever they wish to do, rather than doing it for them.

Throughout the process, I have reflected on my fears and doubts, my expectation management and boundary-setting skills, refined my listening capabilities, and internalised the significance of empathy. The mix of hands-on exercises, theoretical insights, models, and techniques struck a perfect balance. It reiterated the importance of humility, openness, and honesty, highlighting the value of a growth mindset.

The programme has also introduced me to a diverse network of 38 women, each with their own unique stories and personalities. We learn from each other, supporting and uplifting one another.

I’m profoundly grateful for this initiative, where a dedicated team of remarkable women, Kirsten Peters Roebuck and Heather Leonard, are working tirelessly and innovatively to unite other inspiring women. These women believe that mentorship is a skill that can be learned, one that contributes to the individuals’ success and empowerment, subsequently benefiting the job market, the industry and beyond.

At the Kick-Off session, we collectively committed to this mission: “Together, we can empower and educate individuals, irrespective of gender, to assist women in pursuing both life and career opportunities.” In four months’ time, as this first cohort of MentorHER concludes, we’ll assess our achievements and areas for growth. I believe that, regardless of the outcomes, with heightened awareness and collaborative support, we will undeniably experience significant personal and collective growth.

Written by Claudia De Carlo

MentorHER Cohort One is sponsored by Auto Trader UK

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