Being a mentee gave me confidence to become a mentor

Shaf Mansour, head of digital content and communities at Barnardo’s, has been a CharityComms mentor and mentee.

Being mentored by digital consultant Bertie Bosrédon gave him the confidence to become a mentor to Beth Young, communications and administration assistant at Contact the Elderly.

“I’ve had a bit of a meteoric career progression since I moved into the charity sector three years ago after a master’s degree in law. Before that, I worked in music, running my own record label for four years. I’ve moved from comms assistant at The Elders and digital assistant at Unicef, to head of digital at Barnardo’s via a role at Action for Blind People. My mentor Bertie has given me the support and encouragement I needed to progress my career in the sector. I wanted to pass forward the brilliant experience I’ve had, which is why I’ve become a mentor myself.

When I was at Unicef, everyone was good at sharing knowledge, which helped me learn and progress. I decided to apply to get a mentor when I left because I wanted to keep up that momentum. It was brilliant to be matched with Bertie. In our first session, he explained his background and I could immediately tell I could learn loads from him.

Reaching more young people

If I had an idea I wanted to work on, I’d discuss it with Bertie and his interrogation helped me make it more robust. This helped me push ideas through faster. When I started at Barnardo’s in September 2014, digital fundraising and digital comms were separate teams, under different directorates. I discussed ways to build my team with Bertie and this helped me work with others at Barnardo’s to merge the two teams. We’ve broken down the silo and are operating more like an in-house agency. This has helped make digital more integral to Barnardo’s operations.

We discussed how to present people with evidence about the importance of digital. Now I’m giving presentations to project staff, building on my learning from Bertie. I talk about things like why setting up a Facebook group might not always be the best answer to engaging young people – and how, depending on the objectives, my team can help find what is. We’re also looking at creating a website and an app for young people leaving care, something I’ve bounced ideas off with Bertie. By doing this, we are able to make sure we are there for vulnerable children and young people across a range of channels.

Gaining insight

My relationship with Bertie gave me confidence to become a mentor myself. I wanted to develop my people management experience and work with a mentee at the same level as someone joining my team. It’s been nice to have insight into another organisation through Beth, my mentee, and to pass on the mentoring experience. She brings questions and has been able to use some of my suggestions, like using

audioBoom to gather content.

My mentoring experience also helps me manage people in my team. I’ve learnt to listen and am reminded not to take everything at face value, knowing there might be things people aren’t comfortable to say. I try to make sure I’m available for catch-ups as much as possible so colleagues are able to raise any challenges they may have.

Bertie will always remain a valued mentor and friend. I keep emphasising how helpful the mentoring scheme has been and am thankful to CharityComms for the experience I’ve had. It would be brilliant if every person in my team had a mentor.”

Read Bertie’s experience of mentoring Shaf.

Read Beth’s experience of having Shaf as a mentor.