Stephen & Caren: Mentoring Journey

We’ve taken a look at the mentoring relationship between Stephen who is team leader of the risk coaching & team training team at Barclays and Caren who was was looking for mentor support for her business through our Mentoring Programme.

In April 2018 Stephen Wright from Barclays Bank was put in touch with Paul Harper who is the IOEE’s Mentoring Manager, Stephen was then introduced to Caren Bharath and from here the mentoring journey began. Stephen has worked for Barclays for 33 years having undertaken a number of roles largely within corporate and business banking. Stephen is currently team leader of the Risk Coaching and Training Team in the North of England.

Through training and coaching support Stephen’s aim to help Relationship Managers better understand Businesses and their management (including financial analysis) so they can support them with their financial and lending needs, providing appropriate guidance and advice that’s right for both the Customer and the Bank.

We thought it important to understand exactly why Stephen became a Mentor and why he became involved in Mentoring as a whole, Stephen says: “A combination of wanting to improve my own skill set and to support the objectives of IOEE. Having dealt with many business through the years, some successful, some not so, hopefully I have gained some level of experience and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. It’s very clear to me that start-ups who have people to talk to, bounce ideas off and take advice seem to have a better chance of success. I felt a chance to play even just a small part in helping support a new business, the future of our economy, was a chance too good to pass up.”

As the mentoring programme came to an end it’s often at then the mentor and mentee can look back and reflect on their relationship and see to what extent they have seen each grow both professionally & personally. Stephen had this to say on Caren’s growth over their mentoring period:

“I have certainly seen Caren’s confidence grow. Moving out of the public sector as a real expert at what she did combined with a great, positive personality and attitude I felt very confident from the outset that she would be successful and the biggest challenge would be managing demand. 12 months down the line I think she now believes that herself and with regular pipeline of regular contracted work the future looks very secure.

A side often overlooked when it comes to mentoring is the idea that a lot can be gained not only on the side of the mentee but on the side of the mentor also. We asked Stephen what he felt he had gained over the last 12 month relationship, Stephen said: “The chance to spend some time at the early stages of a new business. As I’ve said above my current role is internally focused and I think it’s important that Bankers in whatever role should spend time with real business to understand the various issues and challenges they face (not just banking/financial ones).”

Following on from this we can take a look at the other side of the mentoring relationship and that of the Mentee, Caren. We asked Caren she how she found the whole mentoring experience. Caren said: “I found the programme was much more of a morale booster then I had expected and helped with focussing me on my confidence to succeed in my freelance venture.”

As the mentoring relationship drew to a close we asked Caren how she felt the mentoring programme benefitted her as a whole, Caren said: “I found the programme a very positive experience but especially Stephen’s approach, which made the experience very valuable.

He had a very calm but focussed approach and at every meeting gave me ideas and thoughts I could go away with and think about and a reassurance that as well as the day to day job I was doing I had many other skills (built up from working in my industry) I was using but hadn’t necessarily realised. I would definitely recommend the programme to anyone new to self-employment.” We get a huge feeling of satisfaction when receiving such great feedback and insight from both sides of the mentoring relationship and we believe almost all small business’ would benefit from mentoring in one way or another.