Published on Friday 21 July 2023

Embracing the unexpected: My mentorship journey

By Ola Bello, Head of Internal Audit

As the Head of Internal Audit at IQUW, entrusted with overseeing a team of talented individuals, I have always emphasised the importance of continuous learning and development. However, when an email from HR arrived last year, inviting employees to participate in a year-long mentoring programme, I found myself hesitating. The nature of my role necessitates maintaining independence, which often makes it challenging to establish the kind of relationships that foster personal growth. But, despite my reservations, I came to realise that I had neglected my own development – and decided it was time for a change.

Taking a leap

With a little encouragement from my manager, I decided to apply for the mentoring programme, called ‘Moving Ahead.’  The initiative targeted women in senior positions who were striving to shatter the glass ceiling – and interestingly, it relied on algorithms to match mentors and mentees, using science and numbers to create compatible pairs.

A surprising connection

When I virtually met my assigned mentor for the first time, it felt like stepping into uncharted territory. Our backgrounds and experiences appeared vastly different, and I wondered if we could genuinely connect. However, I soon discovered that sometimes the most valuable mentoring relationships are formed with people we wouldn’t typically expect.

Our conversations opened my eyes to the limitations of preconceived notions, and I realised that diversity and contrasting viewpoints are essential for growth. While it’s easy to gravitate towards mentors who share our backgrounds or industries, there’s immense value in engaging with people from different walks of life.

My mentor’s fresh perspective helped me question my own assumptions and broaden my horizons, ultimately contributing to my personal and professional development.

Embracing new opportunities

The programme was designed to provide plenty of resources, and it was incredibly comprehensive, but it was up to me to make the most of the opportunities I had. I actively participated in sessions with various speakers, eager to learn from their diverse expertise, and found that connecting with other mentees allowed me to share experiences and gain insights from their journeys.

My mentoring journey is ongoing, but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. By investing time in myself, I’ve progressed beyond my initial expectations – and am ready to continue with more mentoring even after the initial programme is over. The experience has emphasised the importance of continuous learning and the immense value of supportive relationships in our professional lives – and it’s crucial to make the most of these opportunities!

IQUW offers mentoring opportunities for many of its employees. Ola’s programme ‘Moving Ahead’ was delivered through the 30% Club, an organisation dedicated to helping companies in all industries achieve their inclusion and diversity goals.


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