Make the most of mentoring

Make the most of mentoring

Mentoring has been a big part of my life for over 10 years. I’ve found it an amazing way to share my experience with others while also receiving so much back, as it’s a wonderful two way process. I’ve learned new skills, gained knowledge about others and myself and found it rewarding on so many levels. As we celebrate National Mentoring Day this week, I wanted to mark the occasion by sharing some of the things I’ve picked up over the years.

One of the first and toughest skills I have learnt has been the art of listening. It’s so crucial and often underestimated. I often think in today’s busy world people don’t take the time to listen, but when you do it provides a different perspective on life: you can learn, guide and advise people from a more informed position. It’s a life skill that’s worth investing in.

Hand in hand with listening is being human. I know this sounds strange but I think we sometimes forget that people are still people when they are put into work environments. If you overlook a person as a whole you may miss out on key information and won’t understand them as a rounded person. Understanding people’s human qualities allows you to develop them further.

So you’re ready to listen and understand people as humans, now you need to establish trust and respect as these are paramount in mentoring. Without these two qualities neither the mentee nor mentor are going to have a successful or fulfilling relationship. They are the foundations that you can build your relationship on.

To establish and sustain mentoring both parties need to be committed. Often meetings and catch ups happen outside of work hours or during lunch breaks so it’s important that time is used well and everyone keeps to meeting dates and times. If you’re committed to making it work, you’ll find it so worthwhile.

The more I write about mentoring, the more I realise that the list of skills and ‘top tips’ gets longer, but the main thing I want to do is encourage everyone to mentor or become a mentee. I’ve really enjoyed nurturing people, many of whom I now call friends, and I definitely believe the skills you learn help you in life. Everyone has experiences and knowledge to share so put yourself out there, empower yourself and others.

Charlotte Read 

If a woman can be Doctor Who, can the BBC now pay all women fairly?

Two days after the BBC announced a win for women with the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who, it was revealed that only a third of the highest earners are women, with the highest female earners’ salary being just a quarter of the highest males’  Having recently seen a live recording of The One Show, this gender pay issue returned to the forefront of my mind.   Does the BBC have a gender discrimination problem, and if not, why does Alex Jones earn less than her co-host Matt Baker?

The BBC took a huge leap forward for women when it announced that the new Doctor Who would be Jodie Whittaker, and girls everywhere rejoiced.  Colin Baker, who played the 6th Doctor approves ‘I was the Doctor and I’m over the moon that at last we have a female lead’  whilst his predecessor Peter Davison seemed less sure; ‘If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for’. Was this just a token female, or does the BBC want to promote gender equality and strong female role models?

As a predominately female office, we were stunned by the revelation of the clear gender pay gap at the BBC.  Whilst Tony Hall has promised that there will be equal pay by 2020, it worries me that this will only be the case for the stars that the BBC pays, not the stars who are paid by private companies such as Graham Norton. Even more concerning is the fact that this problem spreads across all BBC staff; on average, men in the corporation earn 9.3% more than women.

As a public company, the BBC was required to share the information and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an audit of all companies to reveal their gender pay difference. But what would we see if other broadcasters had to share it too? Whilst this may seem like a good idea and would help to force progress, it may be a waste of government resources. Would it be better to educate on the advantages of diversity and to encourage women to apply for higher roles in companies and ask for pay rises when they deserve them? Many female stars at the BBC have said that their pay is negotiated by agents who are often male and may not fight for the pay that they deserve.

There is also a stark lack of diversity in the highest paid stars that cannot go unnoticed.  The list is predominately white with the few people of colour who made it on earning the least of the highest paid stars.

Diversity in senior positions is crucial and without it there can be little progress. As an agency that works with creative companies we recognise the importance of diversity to create content that relates to many people. A lack of diversity on a creative board can limit the breadth of ideas and can result in distasteful campaigns that can be a PR nightmare – think the infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial.

Equality and diversity are key to any company and this is not just so you can say you are diverse. Diversity can lead to increased creativity and can help a company grow and succeed.

 

Beatrix Freeland 

A year at Pumpkin

You walk out of the exam room knowing that you’re officially a graduate, you hand in your notice at the part time job you’ve been doing since school, you finish your summer internship. Regardless of the paths that have led us there, we’ve all been in that limbo period just before ‘adult’ life truly begins; where we’re staring down the barrel of the gun that is the world of work, not quite sure what we’re getting into.

This was where I was when I started at Pumpkin almost a year ago. Exhilarated, slightly terrified – ready to leap into the unknown. Ten months later and those feelings may have mellowed (at least a little), but I now have a set of skills and experiences I would never have imagined. We’re often told that the first six months of our careers will be our biggest learning curve, and in my experience, that couldn’t have been truer. Whether that was working out what a KPI was, or building my first working relationship, there were a few key things that I learnt pretty early on.

We’re told over and over again that we should trust our gut instincts, but it was only when I started working in PR that I realised just how important they are. I didn’t have a repertoire of experience to rely on, so at first, decision making was a combination of my own intuition and support from the team. Whilst I was always told that there’s no such thing as a silly question, I had to find the balance between asking enough and making my own judgements. A few weeks in, I started trying to pre-empt the answers to the questions I asked before I received them, and as my instinct increasingly matched the team’s advice, I became more confident and more independent.

A team that’s on side is the biggest asset that your workplace can give you. This may seem like a given, but there’s still a wrongful assumption that business is a dog eat dog world, and that we must have a certain level of fierceness in order to survive. This is simply not true. In fact, Forbes recently revealed that one of the top five qualities employers value in the people they hire is the ability to ‘play well’ with each other, always working as a team, regardless of the challenges. Having colleagues that I feel not only support me, but genuinely want to see me flourish, has been absolutely integral to my first year of PR.

Nothing will ever really prepare you for what the working world hits you with. Writing an essay is not the same as writing a press release, a blog post or even an email. Getting up for a 9am lecture is not the same as working a 9-6 day. But equally, you’re probably more capable than you think you are of making the phone call you’re so anxious about, or suggesting that thought piece idea that you’ve been sitting on. When you’re starting out, it can be hard to know where you stand, but having the confidence to put yourself out there is really what made me start feeling like a genuinely valuable part of the team. You were hired for a reason, so more often than not, the person you have to prove yourself most to, is you.

 

Chloé Kingscote

Trump’s America

“One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

This was said by the man who will now hold the most powerful position in government when I get back to my university in the US at the end of January. A university that tries hard to protect its students from bias and harassment from other students and faculty members, but now cannot protect them from the President of the United States.

Our future president also once said, “If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’” My school has a large majority of female students. Because of this, we have strong female professors and are encouraged to not let gender stereotypes bring us down, but push us forward. I have always relished the fact that I feel one hundred percent comfortable walking across campus at night and that female students don’t get catcalled. Now, I don’t feel safe in my country or my body as our president judges women’s appearances rather than their intelligence.

“We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacle to their achievements and no remaining ceilings to shatter.” This is a quote from President Obama, who openly and publicly encourages his daughters to reach for the stars academically. His eldest daughter is all set to attend Harvard University next fall. Trump, however, was quoted saying “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

Right now I work as an intern in an office with over 90 percent of female employees in a line of work, public relations, that is dominated by female professionals. I spend my days surrounded by strong powerful women, yet my country is going to be led by a man who told a strong powerful woman that she couldn’t be president because she didn’t have the “look” for it. Little girls today are not going to be as lucky I was to grow up in the Obama age. They are going to have to grow up with a president who openly prefers his more attractive daughter and publicly stated that he was proud of all of his children, but proud to “a lesser extent” of his youngest, presumably less attractive daughter.

Lea Silverman

Brands Reborn

According to Collins Dictionary, a rebrand is ‘the process of giving a product or an organisation a new image, in order to make it more attractive or successful’. Giving yourself a new image can almost be done overnight, but making yourself more attractive and successful in the long term is a lot trickier.

One of the most successful rebrands of recent times was by Burberry in 2001. During the late 1990s, Burberry faced damage to its public image when the fashion brand was associated with ‘chav culture’. However, after hiring a new global design director and CEO, the conservative brand began injecting more sex appeal, making Kate Moss the face of Burberry for starters, immediately restoring its reputation and making it cool at the same time. Over the next 10 years, Burberry started to take back its intellectual property by buying back licences it had sold to allow other businesses to use its check on anything and everything. This allowed the company to significantly increase sales, through innovation, sticking close to its key brand principles and being confident in its creative vision. Burberry was also one of the first fashion brands to use social media, livestream fashion shows and create digital engagement with consumers. Burberry made itself attractive again.

At the other end of the spectrum in 2010, fashion brand Gap, introduced a new logo which it had spent $100 million creating. Unlike Burberry who embraced the power of the internet, Gap released the new logo with no warning, no marketing hype and no social media noise. The change was so unpublicised that it took people a while to notice that anything had even changed. However, once it was noticed, the feedback was not good and the new logo was replaced after just six days – one of the fastest re-rebrandings of all time. Gap execs responded immediately, asking the public to share their own designs for the brand, sparking speculation that the whole thing was a hoax… quite an expensive and embarrassing hoax it would seem. With this rebrand, Gap did seem to change its image overnight, but failed with the hard part in making it attractive and successful. 

Branding is important, it reflects who you are and what you stand for.  Rebranding is almost more important, it reflects how you are changing and growing

Here at Pumpkin, we are going through our own little rebrand courtesy of our friends at Gower. After nearly 20 years in business we are modernising our image to aid our continued growth and attract the best talent. Unrelatedly (we promise!), this seems to be coming at the exact same time as UKIP is having its own rebrand. However, I’m not sure we have a lot in common with Nigel Farage’s party… although, we do enjoy a pint…

Paddy Williams