Following an application process, 15 female PR professionals have been matched with a mentor – an experienced female PR figure – who will offer guidance through face-to-face meetings and other forms of contact. See below for a full list of mentors and mentees.
The mentee opportunity is open to PR pros with at least five years’ in the sector, including some line management experience. It is not for novices, but rather those with some leadership responsibilities who want to move to the next stage in their careers.
Amy Simpson has as much reason as anyone to seek advice at this juncture, having co-founded PR agency YOURS.SINCERELY this year.
"The next 12 months are critical in shaping its future success," says Simpson, whose mentor is Emily Morgan, consumer MD at The Red Consultancy. "I truly believe the mentoring scheme could be a huge contributor to that success.
"Yes, I’ve got some good experience under my belt but I strongly believe you’re never too old, too senior, (and should never be too embarrassed) to ask for support."
Another agency founder, Claudia Moselhi of CLO PR, has a similar view.
Moselhi, who has been matched with Academy Media Group chairman Rachel Bell, says: "I felt I could benefit from a formal and professional mentoring arrangement to hold me to account. But also I wanted to find a mentor who ‘has been there’, and who is up for coming on the journey with me to solve some real challenges that I, and many small businesses, have."
Federation of Small Businesses director of comms Louise Stewart will be mentored by Jennifer Thomas, head of internal communications, sustainability & experience at Direct Line.
"I haven’t had a mentor before in my career and I think I will really benefit from being mentored by Jennifer, who has a wealth of experience navigating complex, multi-stakeholder environments," says Stewart.
Melanie Hesketh, global communications director at fintech firm FIS, will be mentored by another senior in-house comms figure: Snap’s Tanya Ridd. "I applied to the Mentorship Scheme to step out of my comfort zone of financial services PR and learn from a mentor in a different industry," Hesketh explains.
"I hope to gain best practices and success stories of what a large consumer brand is doing in its comms program and to gain new ways of campaign strategy and development that I can utilise in my in-house financial services based role."
Seeking advice outside your comfort zone is also important for Georgina Cotton, communications specialist at the Cabinet Office, who has been matched with O2 director of corporate affairs Nicola Green.
"I am looking forward to building on my knowledge and experience in government communications with the support of my mentor and her expertise in the private sector. I am hopeful that the opportunity will give me a different perspective on how to achieve my career goals and I very much look forward to seeing what the next 12 months have in store."
Meanwhile, Clare Daly, comms director at Belfast’s Morrow Communications – whose mentor is Newgate Communications executive chair Deborah Saw – says: "It’s great to have access to an impartial sounding board who can help me refine my goals objectively and provide no-nonsense, straight-talking advice.
"Northern Ireland has a very talented but relatively small pool of PR professionals, and with the mentoring programme I have the perfect opportunity to grow my support network further afield."
It’s a view echoed by Nicky Regazzoni, mentoring programme co-lead at Women in PR and co-founder of The PR Network. She points out that by 2020, 90 women would have been included in the scheme.
Regazzoni adds: "Over five years we’ve proven that our scheme can help people clarify their goals, get a promotion or change job, and - most importantly - resolve stressful situations which may be impacting on their health and happiness at work."
Which mentee is matched with which mentor?
- Caitlin Allen, associate director, Riot Communications, to be mentored by Molly Aldridge, global CEO & co-founder, M&C Saatchi Public Relations
- Rachel Benton, account director, Ogilvy UK, to be mentored by Gay Collins, founding partner, Montfort Communications
- Sophia Boudjemaa, director, Golin, to be mentored by Doyel Maitra, head of consumer affairs & PR, Money Supermarket
- Isobel Camier, director & founder, Camier Communications, to be mentored by Ginny Paton, director, Mischief
- Georgina Cotton, communications specialist, Cabinet Office, to be mentored by Nicola Green, director of corporate affairs, O2
- Clare Daly, communications director, Morrow Communications, to be mentored by Deborah Saw, executive chair, Newgate Communications
- Melanie Hesketh, global communications director, FIS, to be mentored by Tanya Ridd, director of communications, international, Snap Inc.
- Elizabeth Jones, MD, With, to be mentored by Misha Dhanak, founder & CEO, The Romans
- Claudia Moselhi, Director & Founder, CLO PR, to be mentored by Rachel Bell, Chairman, The Academy Media Group
- Anna Rawson, account director, Grayling, to be mentored by Ali Jeremy, director of marketing & communications, NSPCC
- Sarah Shephard, account manager, Haggie Partners, to be mentored by Rachel Friend, UK CEO, Weber Shandwick
- Amy Simpson, co-Founder, YOURS.SINCERELY, to be mentored by Emily Morgan, MD, consumer, The Red Consultancy
- Louise Stewart, director of communications, Federation of Small Businesses, to be mentored by Jennifer Thomas, head of internal communications, sustainability & experience, Direct Line
- Katie Watts, senior press officer, MoneySavingExpert.com, to be mentored by Michele Moore Duhen, senior PR manager, Capgemini
- Lauren Welford, associate director, Ketchum, to be mentored by Sarah Samee, independent consultant