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The Value of Mentee-Mentor Relationships

Joanne Lancaster
Joanne Lancaster and Louise McDowell write about their experiences as mentee and mentor respectively and why they found it valuable.

The Mentee Experience - Joanne Lancaster

During the university restructure in 2016, my role changed from PA to the Dean of Faculty in Aberdeen Business School, to Placement Officer.  Becoming a Placement Officer provided some new challenges and took me on a different career path.  The new role triggered me to research into development opportunities that would allow me to grow my knowledge, develop my skills, learn more about the different areas of Higher Education and hopefully give me an idea of where I wanted my career to go. 

The PG Certificate (PG Cert) in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership from Association of University Administrators (AUA) encouraged me to think about my professional development and where I see my career progressing in the future.  The course has provided me with greater knowledge of the higher education sector as a whole, allowed me to explore different areas at RGU and has helped me recognise my strengths and weaknesses.

Although every student undertaking the PG Cert is given a mentor by the AUA, my mentor was based in Newcastle which meant meeting face to face was impossible.  Instead, I would bounce ideas off Louise, with her acting as an unofficial mentor for the course.  I am very lucky in that Louise is a supportive line manager, always encouraging us to think about personal development and progression.  Throughout the duration of the PG Cert, Louise would assign me tasks and learning experiences that would push me out of my comfort zone, but would ultimately show me what I’m capable of.  I don’t think I could have completed the course successfully without the support of Louise.

I’ve since moved back into a professional support role within Aberdeen Business School, which I really enjoy, and the things I’ve learned on my course have helped me advance in this position.  In the future I’d like to move to a School Admin Manager role where I can further build on the knowledge and skills learned on the course.

The role of mentoring in staff development – Louise McDowell

LouiseMcDowell-PhotoBeing an AUA mentor is about supporting students to plan for their course workload, challenging them on professional practice, assisting in identifying opportunities for professional development and encouraging them to look at the wider Higher Education picture. One of the biggest challenges faced by many is that they may be returning to study or formal education after a significant time gap and they will do this largely on their own and as such the mentor support and guidance is invaluable.

It is a very satisfying and rewarding experience and one where I learn so much from my mentees about themselves, their aspirations and their institutions and in turn it allows me to develop my own skills and experiences and reflect on my role. At the same time, I get to develop my knowledge and professional network across the wider sector.

Having Joanne as a team member undertaking the PgCert at the same time as I was providing mentoring has enabled us both to see it from each other’s side and allowed me to fully appreciate the challenges PgCert students face in completing this course.

Joanne has developed her deeper understanding of the sector and is able to use this now in her project officer role, successfully using her newly developed skills to help support the department in its continuous improvement project. Joanne brings to the department a well-informed opinion and the ability to critically evaluate an issue, provide suggested solutions and then ultimately manage a project through to completion and we will continue to use this to develop Joanne and the department further.

Huge congratulations to Joanne for achieving her PgCert in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership.

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