'You’d be mad not to apply' – why join the Mentoring Programme (from women who did)

The 2020 Mentoring Programme from Women in PR and PRWeek is set to be the biggest yet, and there's still time to apply. Mentees from the 'class of 2019' discuss how the experience has benefited them and their careers.

2019 mentees (clockwise from top left): Rachel Benton, Katie Watts, Claudia Moselhi and Louise Stewart
2019 mentees (clockwise from top left): Rachel Benton, Katie Watts, Claudia Moselhi and Louise Stewart

Now in its seventh year, the Mentoring Programme aims to empower women to climb the PR ladder and take prominent leadership roles within the industry – click here for more information and to apply to be a mentee.

Significant changes for 2020 include the scheme being 100 per cent digital amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The 2020 programme brings the addition of male mentors for the first time. And this year five mentee positions will be allocated to Welsh members of Women in PR Cymru. Twenty-five mentee positions are available.

Below we hear from some of the 2019 mentees about the impact the scheme had on them, and why ambitious female PR professionals should apply.

Katie Watts, PR and communications manager, MoneySavingExpert.com
(Mentor: Michele Moore Duhen, senior PR manager, Capgemini)

There’s nothing like a fresh perspective to gently nudge you into the next phase of your career. I won a place on the mentoring programme when I was struggling to make the leap from seasoned press officer to strategic novice.

The women in my cohort had a range of challenges and goals for their year of mentoring – it’s not just a scheme for those with families, those going it alone to start a businesses, or even those with an executive team role under their belt. It’s for everyone whose career now lies firmly in the comms industry.

At a middle-point in my career, my mentor helped me to think more tactically, understand how corporate objectives should influence my work, and guided me to be a better manager. Since pairing with her, I have spoken on industry panels, started my CIPR Diploma, become more innovative at work and earned a promotion with more autonomy, working for a brand I love. You’d be mad not to apply.

Louise Stewart, director of communications, Federation of Small Businesses
(Mentor: Jennifer Thomas, head of internal communications, sustainability and experience, Direct Line)

The mentor scheme run by Women In PR in partnership with PR Week has been a fantastic opportunity for me. I was paired with Jennifer Thomas of Direct Line Group, and could not have wished for a better mentor. She is a hugely experienced comms professional, but is also extremely generous with her time and advice. She encouraged me to look at areas of communications I was very comfortable with and also those I had less experience of in order to build on that. She was also endlessly positive and encouraging.

I believe whatever stage in your career you're at you can benefit from having a mentor. I think this scheme is particularly important because, despite PR being an industry dominated by women, there are still too few of them in the top positions. It was a real pleasure to be part of the WIPR scheme, for which I am very grateful. Jennifer was not just a mentor but also became a trusted friend.

Claudia Moselhi, founder, CLO PR
(Mentor: Rachel Bell, chairman, The Academy Media Group)

I urge all aspiring women who want to shake up their careers for the better to apply to the mentoring scheme. I had only ever had informal mentors in the past and the scheme was a chance to have a more formal, professional arrangement with a mentor to hold me to account. I wanted to work with someone who had 'been there’, and who was up for the challenge of, together, coming up with solutions that I could action. Actions went somewhere. And that's exactly what I got.

Rachel was the perfect match – she had some tough questions for me to answer. She pushed me to find new ways of working with clients and grow a much thicker skin. While I’ve got a lot more to learn, Rachel has taught me some invaluable lessons to help me push my ambitions forward in business and PR.

Anna Rawson, account director, Grayling
(Mentor: Ali Jeremy, director of communications and engagement, The Royal Parks)

The mentoring scheme proved incredibly helpful for me, my mindset and career aspirations. Taking time to determine my goals, identify any barriers and develop a workable plan with Ali helped me to build in confidence and set my sights on my role in the present and future, particularly with a baby on the way.

As a then-first-time mum-to-be, taking part in the scheme helped me to consider and plan how I can find the balance between raising my baby and continuing to progress a successful career, something I was and am extremely keen to do. Thank you to Ali and PRWeek for providing such a fantastic opportunity!

Rachel Benton, account director, Ogilvy UK
(Mentor: Gay Collins, founding partner, Montfort Communications)

All of us have moments in our career that we plan for - setting objectives, defining career goals, having your annual review. But there are also times you don’t expect, when a new opportunity or challenge comes your way. Working with my mentor, Gay, has been incredibly helpful for all those moments. With her sound advice and experience, I’ve been encouraged to prepare differently, to see new perspectives and to be more confident in taking ownership for my career.

Gay has been a wonderful and encouraging sounding board, and her advice and guidance have helped me navigate those experiences even more effectively. I’ve come away with new ideas and a clearer focus about what I want out of my career, and how I can work towards that. I’d encourage anyone who’s ambitious and wants to grow to apply for this programme – it’s a brilliant opportunity.

Click here for more details about the Mentoring Programme, including how to apply to be a mentee.

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