Mentors play a very important role in our careers

mentorI’ve had a few conversations with friends, family and colleagues about personal growth recently where a common theme that kept coming up was the lack of support within organisations to help personal and career development. It can be frustrating when you know that you need to grow or develop, but do not have the support structure to facilitate that.

One way to get around this is to find yourself a mentor or a career counselor. Speaking through experience, I think of a mentor as a trusted advisor,  someone I can discuss various topics with whilst feeling comfortable about it.

I first had a mentor when I was about a year into my career – although I didn’t realise I was being mentored at the time. We worked on projects together over a few month period and not only did I learn a lot of technical skills from him, but also learnt a lot about the world of consulting. I have sought his counsel several times since and to this day he remains not only one of my close friends but also a good source of inspiration for me.

Since then, I’ve had a few informal mentors throughout my career. Many of them have been around to impart their wisdom and guidance when I needed it most.

More recently, realising that I needed help to work through a range of ideas and development intiatives, I approached one of my contacts whom I highly respected and he agreed to be my mentor. We have a formal engagement model, and we meet regularly to discuss developments, progress on actions, issues, questions, brainstorm ideas, and so on. This engagement process has helped me through a challenging period in my career and is shaping the direction I am now heading in. I admit, I am still a work in progress. But then again, I always will be!

Based on personal experience, I am a firm believer in having mentors in your career, be it formal or informal. In the early stage in your career it helps to have a mentor in the same industry as you. However, as times goes on it does help to have someone who can bring different perspectives to the table.

Below are some links to articles on the topic which I hope will be useful to you:

Finally, I would love to hear any thoughts or experiences you may have had, that could be shared with other readers. Have you had experience of being mentored or even been a mentor yourself? How have you gained from such an arrangement?

What type of Careerist are you?

Career

I hadn’t come across the term careerist until I read the HBR article Know What Kind of Careerist You Are, and I had to look up the definition for it. Most definitions imply it is a very selfish thing to be a careerist, and it puts career before anything else.

The HBR article on the other hand paints a slightly different, and in my opinion, a more realistic picture of what this term means.

Having glanced through the various types careerists, I can identify myself going through a couple of these to get my current state, hence my reference to them as stages. Getting High and Getting Ahead were two stages of my career that I have been through and can relate to very well.

Having been through the above stages, and with my priorities having shifted over the years, I am now firmly settled on Getting Balanced. Yes, I value family more than career and won’t ever hesitate to make a call when it comes to that.

But that’s just me… what about you? Where do you see yourself on this list?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether like me, you’ve found yourself transitioning through different types through the years.

The Origins of my Passion for the Logistics Industry

logistics_passion_200pxI recently came across a set of notes that I received from a workshop which I attended in 1999, whilst working in the UK. The notes were titled “Transport Planning Workshop”, and I immediately realised that my passion for all things logistics originated from this one session. The instructor was a brilliant colleague of mine, I was working for a great company at the time and was surrounded by some incredible people who knew a lot about the industry. The information that this workshop taught me triggered an interest, created a passion, helped me carve a niche area of expertise and got me involved in an industry which I have been enjoying working in ever since.

Seeing these notes again made me realise how much I’ve grown and matured since those early days and the difference I have hopefully made to a number of businesses that I have been fortunate to work with since then.

Have you had a similar “aha” moment in your career which has since defined or led you down a particular path, and what was it?