Suyin Aerts
March 17, 2023

Opening doors

It was very nice to be asked in the panel of “Superstars” during the bootcamp of the new cohort that began at Start it Accelerate @KBC in the middle of the week. It was nice to talk about my role as a mentor, especially being beside a mentee I am very proud of. I am actually proud of what all the different mentees I worked with are creating and doing so far. They have been very different and in different kinds of businesses, asking me to mentor them all because of different reasons. I am also very happy to have a male mentee right now as well.

I feel that the most important thing as a mentor is to open doors for my mentee. Even though I believe a lot in reversed mentorship. Being a mentor is for sure not about trading favors. 

Next week I have a meeting with another of my mentees. The program we have been in together has finished for a long time but we keep on having contact. Another mentee is finishing another book she wrote. She had been a journalist and I learned a lot from her, even though she was the mentee. 

I also try not to coach my mentees, but I do share things with them I learned during coaching sessions from my different coaches. 

I believe also that in big companies mentoring will make the difference to retain talent. But it is very important to think a lot about the pairing of a mentor and a mentee. Because not any relation will work.

Once a relation is made it needs to be very clear what both parties want and can mean for each other. Communication is key. Also when changes occur. When there is a lack of clarity regarding the mentorship program this may lead to failure. But I have seen mentorship work even without a program that is built around it. But that is only since I got a small training , I think it is really necessary to be adequately trained as a mentor. You have to take your role seriously, as you take your role seriously as a parent, because of unconditional love. I do not say you need to love your mentee, but you have to be or become a huge fan of your mentee to make it work.

I think once you feel a bottle neck in the relationship it is crucial to talk about it and see if the relationship is worthwhile to continue. You can also decide to just stay relatives, or friends after a while. One of the rules I remember from my training as a mentor is that you can never ever propose to take over some work yourself, even if you would get paid, it is detrimental for the relationship.

As one of the people I really see as a role model myself: Oprah Winfrey said :“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” 

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