Capp Award Winner - Hilde Van Helsdingen

Last month I received the ‘Mentor of the Year’ award at the annual Capp Awards.

When the nominations were announced, I remember feeling surprised and a bit overwhelmed, but mostly honoured to be considered. Winning the award has been a humbling experience, as to me it shows that my colleagues and peers have appreciated my work and achievements of being a mentor.

An easy mistake is to think that mentoring can only be done through official channels of line management or during ‘mentor/coaching’ labelled sessions. Although these can be a straight forward way of mentoring, in my experience, sharing knowledge and providing advice and feedback can take place at any time.

Whether talking a new colleague through best practice when joining a new client project or simply by sharing the context of the client’s world to set an internal team up for success, I see a mentor as someone who provides guidance, motivation and emotional support.

Even though it has been less than a year since I started to line manage and actively think about mentoring, I’ve always taken opportunities to share experiences of my own career, explaining both successes and failures in order to stimulate peoples personal and professional growth.

True to form, I’ve had the privilege of having my own set of mentors. From an early age my mother showed me the benefits of being authentic, staying close to who you are, while remaining open to other people’s perceptions and new experiences. Other mentors are well esteemed Capp colleagues and directors who have shared their wisdom and good judgement. They taught me how to steer through difficult conversations, how to best provide feedback and the simple fact that not knowing the answer right away doesn’t mean you cannot or will not find it.

I feel there are many advantages of mentoring for both, a mentee and a mentor, but also for the organisation. Therefore, I would strongly encourage anyone to think about how they can be a role model for others. Are there opportunities to give feedback or share examples how you’ve dealt with a certain issue or challenge? Or alternatively find a trusted mentor yourself. Find someone who can help you gain valuable advice and insight: it should not only increase your success but also allow you to advance your career.