By Kavyaa Rizal
With participation in the formal workforce higher than ever before, it is undeniable that Nepali women play a significant role in shaping our current professional ecosystem. Some women have now reached top decision-making roles in prominent organisations and industries of this country, and we can only anticipate more. However, when looked upon at a larger scale, we still see that men dominate the leadership and decision-making roles in most organisations while women are subjected to non-decision making, mid-managerial or secretarial roles.
While many factors play into this including the traditional male-dominated professional landscape, and the double-role working women have to fulfill in today’s world, a lack of equal access that women have to professional network, input and opportunities play a key role to de-accelerate our careers as well. Equal access to top industry experts in the form of mentors, above else, is instrumental for personal and professional development, especially in a professional landscape that is mostly navigated through one’s network.
CareerPREP Fellowship, a 16-week fellowship program aimed at enhancing professional and personal soft skills and competencies for young women in Nepal, focuses on just that – a personalised and customised one-on-one mentorship between an aspiring young female professional and an industry lead.
Although talked about oftentimes in the professional landscape today, there still seems to be a large gap in knowledge about the concept of mentorship itself, be it among the mentors or mentees.
Different from teaching and even coaching, goal-oriented mentorship is a highly personalised two-way relationship mostly aimed at the development of one’s mentee and more specifically her goals. “Michelangelo approached the craft of sculpting with the humble conviction that a unique and beautiful piece of art already existed within the stone, and his job was only to release it. We think the best mentors approach their art in the same way” explain W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith for the Harvard Business Review. We at CareerPREP Fellowship feel the same. Rather than prescribing answers and solutions to each problem or question of a mentee, mentors push their mentees to figure it out themselves- to allow their mentees to carve out the master pieces that alreadyexist within them.
This can be achieved by being active listeners. This includes taking a conscious effort to approach any conversation with least bias possible, asking questions such as “how does my mentee see herself?” and “how can she help herself?”, instead of “how can Ihelp my mentee?” or “how do I see my mentee?” Active listening includes being purposeful by asking many questions, being empathetic towards your mentee and accepting them without presenting much agreement or disagreement. It encourages your mentee to be less defensive and urges them to be open in sharing their thoughts and ideas.
Second, “it is imperative for mentors to be married to the process, not the outcome”, explained Ashutosh Tiwari, CEO of Safal Partners, during a CareerPREP Fellowship Mentors’ training session. “Mentorship can be testing at times, especially when the mentee is not moving in the pace we would like them to, or obtaining outcomes we desire to see. Mentorship is primarily a relationship, and it cannot, in its true sense, be transactional.”
Third, by opening your mentee’s access to more than just you. Introduce them to your network, and take them to your organisation. It might actually surprise you to see the growth in your relationship with them upon doing this, and how their perspective might provide you with invaluable insights on your own work.
All in all, mentorship is about people trying to learn from each other, of creating goal-oriented relationships with individuals committed to helping themselves and others, about collaboration, and simply, about growing together.
CareerPREP Fellowship is excited to be commencing an article series exploring the concept of professional mentorship, its components, and the value it could add to the Nepali professional ecosystem with Business 360 Magazine. CareerPREP Fellowship is a 16-week program which intends to bridge the gap that exists between the education system and the skills needed in the professional life for young women in Nepal. It focuses on developing soft skills needed to keep the pace of growing professionalism through one-on-one mentorship with industry experts, and facilitated sessions on industry-desired personal and professional skills.