Mentoring - One small footstep can lead to bigger footprints

Apr 11, 2018

During the course of your training contract you will be offered as well as seek out, lots of advice, whether that’s from your Partner, Senior, Manager or parents, peers, siblings.  Most of it will be well intentioned and constructive, occasionally it may hurt or disappoint but above all its information that you decide how you are going to receive and what action if any to take.

Often we find it difficult to know who to confide in or go to with a problem or concern regarding work, career or life! In terms of career one of the most positive and rewarding decisions you can make is to seek out a mentor.


The concept of mentoring is not a new one. The term mentoring comes from Greek mythology and Homer’s Odyssey. When Odysseus went travelling, he asked his trusted friend, Mentor, to care for and guide his son into adulthood.

Mentoring is a voluntary swapping of information, advice, shared experience as well as suggestions on how to avoid pitfalls but also an opportunity to inform the other person on changes to sectors, markets, updates on business requirements etc. the mentor is usually, but not always more senior. In most cases mentoring takes the form of face to face conversations between two people and the discussions are shaped by the development needs of the mentee. The meetings allow not only the transfer of knowledge and experience but also of ideas, options and opportunities. Great possibilities can emerge from mentoring.

A mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.

  • Mentoring will help you see things that you may not have recognised in yourself. This will enable you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and generally improve self-awareness.
  • The quickest way to succeed is to learn from people who have been successful. Various studies have shown that being mentored is linked with achievement. The mentor can provide the mentee with valuable insights that they may otherwise not obtain.
  • Mentees can gain an unbiased opinion and overview. This can be enlightening and help them to see themselves and their careers from a completely new perspective and enable them to unveil new possibilities.
  • Mentoring provides the mentee with a forum in which to relax and open up whilst dealing with the real issues that are on their mind. These issues may not be addressed otherwise and major career ‘roadblocks’ can be removed.
  • Mentoring is a powerful intervention. Many mentees report a boost in their confidence levels following a meeting with a mentor. This can in turn lead to an improvement in motivation and performance levels. If sustained, these new levels of drive may result in career progression or promotion.
  • Mentees often gain an increased understanding of an area, sector or discipline. This new information allows them to consider new areas and explore other options, broadening their horizons and providing them with more possibilities.

Choosing a mentor

Choosing the right mentor is pivotal to the process. One option is to consider, ‘Who are the people in your life that could potentially act as your mentor?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who has managed to get the very best out of me?
  • Who has inspired and motivated me in my life?
  • Who do I look up to, respect and trust?


The other option is to consider using the structured Career Mentor Programme provided by Chartered Accountants Ireland.

The Chartered Accountants Ireland Career Mentoring Programme

The Career Mentor Programme was established by Chartered Accountants Ireland to provide members with access to a panel of carefully selected members. These members are a valuable resource due the experience, management skills and intellectual capital they have acquired throughout their varying careers.

Mentoring is not a replacement for career advice, support and career planning, but it’s when you have put some thought into where you would like to go to that the mentor is particularly useful. The mentor has no obligation to assist mentees in job searches.

The Career Mentoring Programme is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to career or professional development. It is an unofficial, voluntary, mutually-agreeable, and self-selected interaction between Chartered Accountants. It takes place when the mentee, (having already considered what drives and motivates them) then needs advice, guidance and support. The mentors are willing to freely share their own experiences and skills with the mentee.

Qualities to look for in a mentor

The mentor you choose has to be right for you. Your choice of mentor can have a huge influence on how successful the relationship and process is for you and what benefit you obtain from it.

Critical mentoring competencies include:

  • Being a good listener and knowing how to give effective feedback.
  • High levels of self-awareness
  • Knowing how to help with goal setting and planning.
  • Helping you to test the reality of your goals
  • Knowing when to give and conversely when not to give advice.
  • Providing constructive feedback and insights
  • The ability to build trust, instil confidence and motivate people.
  • Strategic questioning abilities.
  • The ability to communicate professional experiences effectively.

An effective mentor will:

  • Offer challenging ideas and wise counsel
  • Help build your self-confidence
  • Offer inspiration
  • Listen to career problems and offer encouragement
  • Confront negative behaviours and attitudes
  • Trigger self-awareness
  • Provide knowledge of the career area sought

Mutual Reward

The most productive mentor/mentee relationships are those that result in a reciprocal exchange of knowledge. The mutual benefit results in a more equal and open relationship and this in turn can lead to a higher quality discussion, ideas and knowledge exchange.


Mentoring is a very positive process and experience which benefits mentors, mentees and organisations alike. It appeals to individuals and it is something to keep in mind as you go through your career at various stages along that path, there is always someone out there that has been on the same journey.

For more information check out the Mentor page