May's Mentor of the month and WIBF matches 300 pairs since 2020!
Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
Mentor of The Month - May 2022

WIBF is all about accelerating change. There is lots of research out there that shows just how much mentoring can matter when it comes to maintaining progress in a career. This is especially so for women. All WIBF’s research* shows that women are often not given the opportunities to take their career to the next level: a black hole that has been described as ‘an opportunity chasm’ by the former director of the Bank of England. As the Rose review said back in 2019: ‘One of the key challenges for women in business is a lack of relatable sponsorship, mentorship and role models.’**

Which is why we were excited when our team of volunteer mentoring matchmakers led by Victoria Pringle and Samantha Carnley reached a milestone - 300 pairs matched since 2020! A major feat, since that amounts to matching up around 18 pairs of mentors and mentees every month.

What is the process like?

To find out, we turned to one relationship first built during one of the most difficult periods in business history: the COVID-19 outbreak. Surely, this must have been a source of some stress, at least initially? May’s Mentor of The Month, Julian Hartley had volunteered during an in-person WIBF event: then, the world changed. Lockdown.

Meanwhile Julian, Commercial Director for Tesco Bank, found himself suddenly very busy. ‘It was a stressful time – but then it was for everyone.’ Julian was leading on Tesco Bank’s response to various Government announcements. A number of key product areas like overdrafts, insurance and credit cards were being impacted.

‘At first it felt as if it could be hard to settle into a discussion,’ he says. ‘But in fact, it was great to be looking outward, and thinking of something positive – something that was not the pandemic. I felt privileged to be securely employed!’

Julian was no newcomer to the role, however, having mentored outside the WIBF fold.

How to make the most of the mentoring opportunity? Be proactive, and set up an agenda, he says. His mentee was Pauline Beattie, a sales director with lots of experience to fall back on, but who knew that COVID-19 was going to affect her company’s business suddenly, and perhaps drastically. She needed coaching on optimising change, and exploring different styles of leadership to do so.

Pauline Beatty
Pauline Beattie

‘I was quite clear what I wanted to get out of the programme,’ she says. ‘We knew from the outset that it wouldn’t work if we just said ‘let’s have a catch-up’. It isn’t like that: this is a directed programme. You are given lots of material that helps you define and set goals, planning each meeting in advance. You are driving that agenda; I think if you follow the process set, you will succeed.’

According to Pauline, Julian’s varied experience and pragmatic approach was just right for her needs: now a senior executive, he had been a product development manager.

‘Make sure you have clear intentions about what you want to achieve and communicate that. Provide an agenda, or some context so that your mentor can prepare.’

Since the programme, Pauline says she has set herself new business goals – and been able to take lead on some exciting new areas of business.

‘I’d happily, happily recommend people to do it,’ says Pauline. ‘I’m sure mentoring would be relevant at any time in a career. It was just what I needed.’

For their very last session, lockdowns had ceased and Pauline and Julian finally managed to see each other in person, in Edinburgh. ‘It was just so good to meet – and to say thanks in person!’ Pauline adds.

You may apply to the mentoring programme at any point during your membership with WIBF. Click here to find out more.

With thanks to the entire volunteer team: Nicola Higgins, Megan O’Hara, Stephanie Ogunijimi, Ras Gohil, Eilidh Anderson, Louisa Pollard and Louise Atkinson, led by Victoria Pringle and Samantha Carnley.