Flagship Mentoring Masterclass Summary

From the Women Ahead team

Flagship mentoring masterclass summary, next steps and request for feedback

It was wonderful to see so many of you at our first Women Ahead Masterclass at Google this week, which marked the start of our Flagship Mentoring Programme connecting sport and business. We hope that you found the afternoon thought-provoking, informative and inspiring, and that you left feeling equipped for your first meeting as well as having met some fellow leaders in sport and business.

We were delighted to hear from a panel of world-class speakers during the event. Victoria Pendleton CBE, Olympic Gold Medalist, shared her own personal experiences of being a woman in a very male-dominated world. She also shared the immense value that having a mentor has added both during her sporting career and now as she looks to transition into a phase of her professional life.   

“I’m very eager to learn and improve myself” she said. “If you are not willing to challenge yourself, then you are not willing to grow. I’ve spent the majority of my career in a male-dominated world. I’ve never had a female boss and almost all the staff have been men.”

“In cycling, I found it tough to manage personalities and expectations. I couldn’t have managed without having a mentor. It was about growing perspective on what I do and how to manage the pressure and expectations of people on the team. Without a mentor, I would have struggled and would not have made the last Olympics.”

Rachel Ellison MBE, a leading expert in coaching and mentoring who was awarded her honour for promoting women’s rights whilst working in Afghanistan for the BBC, encouraged us to consider what we want from our mentoring partnerships, what ‘good’ mentoring looks like, and the importance of agreeing verbal contracts and the ‘boundaries’ of the relationship. Participants talked about the importance of being fully available as mentors, non-judgmental, and considerate of the mentee’s environment. Rachel also highlighted the crucial role of listening as a mentor, and shared a range of desired outcomes for the programme such as seeing both parties grow through the partnership, and for mentees to become increasingly empowered.  

Rachel summed up the day by saying “The commitment and energy of everyone that has decided to get involved really stands out to me.”

Patsy Rodenburg OBE, a world expert on teaching voice, speech and presentation skills, reflected on the importance of dialogue and that this is what ‘changes the World’. She challenged us to reflect on how we get the most from the programme by ensuring we are “fully present” in our interactions with one another.

“Dialogue - this is how we change the World… a few bits of craft can change your presence and make a huge difference. When you meet people who know their stuff, how important it is that they have a voice! Quite often it’s the people that speak a lot that know nothing. I want to give the power to the people who know something.”

What Next?

We have four further mentoring masterclass events for this year’s programme. Full details of these will be circulated shortly.

In the meantime, we would welcome feedback on the programme so far. This will enable us to shape this pioneering programme together and ensure it becomes the best that it can be. We would be grateful if you could complete the following short survey