Business expert Mark Harris has mentored Bucks New University students for several years, and here he discusses why he generously commits to the Bucks Mentoring Programme.
Job Title: Owner
Company: Enterprise Doctor
Main responsibilities: Advice and support for businesses – mentoring, coaching and hands-on help.
Mentor to: Rafaela Bartley (who provided her own blog post here).
Buckinghamshire New University is my local Uni – I’m based in Marlow Bottom, am pretty fully engaged with the local business community, am a District Councillor with Wycombe District Council and am Chairman of Wycombe Youth Action. To not be involved with Bucks would almost seem strange!
Given that mentoring is part of my ‘day job’ and that I am a trained Princes Trust Business Mentor as well as having had additional mentoring training in order to be approved to appear at http://www.mentorsme.co.uk/organisations/enterprise-doctor, when I was offered the opportunity to act as a mentor for Bucks students I did not hesitate to get involved.
The range of help I’ve given has been broad, including presentation skills, improving a CV, interview skills, raising self-confidence, helping a student narrow down the precise facet of their chosen profession on which to focus and even helping with residency matters by getting the student involved with the MP from their home town (which had a great outcome).
A key start point for me, whether in my professional role or as a Bucks New University Mentor, is to work with the mentee to identify exactly what it is they want from me – that makes it so much easier to deliver! We then look at how best to make that happen, and get down to working on it.
I’ll be honest and say that (by my personal standards) I’ve had varying degrees of success. There are some mentees who I have complete confidence that I have helped. There are others where I’m not quite so sure, but I am confident that I gave it my best shot, and that as a minimum, I was better than them not having a mentor!
Over the course of the 2015-16 academic year working with my mentee Rafaela we have primarily focussed on her presentation skills. We started by exploring why this was felt to be a need, moved on to examining existing skills and identifying areas for improvement and then worked on ways to implement improvement. Finally, we evaluated progress and worked on areas which may have been missed.
It’s been very challenging because she has such high standards! For me to help someone improve an area on which they wish to work from say 3/10 to 7/10 is achievable. With Rafaela we have worked mainly on areas where she already scored 7 or 8/10 but that’s not good enough – she wants to be a 10.
So, what do I get out of it? I get to do what I enjoy doing – imparting a little wisdom, helping young people work out what they want to achieve and how to go about achieving that. The only tangibles I get (apart from free parking and a coffee onsite when I am mentoring!) are a smile and a ‘thank you’, but that’s all I need. If I know I’ve been helpful, the self-satisfaction of that knowledge is what I’m looking for from the relationship.
A thank you to Mark from Mentee Rafaela Bartley
I would like to thank my mentor Mark Harris for dedicating his time and for taking part in the mentoring experience at Bucks. It was great to hear your experiences and more of your successful background. You have certainly helped me with my confidence as I embark on the job application processes. I will remember our sessions on presentation and communication skills as I start my career and face the situations we have anticipated. I also valued your coaching skills where I was able to reflect on my current performance and become more conscious of my strengths, skills and capabilities. Thank you!
A message from Bucks New University Alumni & Mentoring Service
We didn’t want to miss this opportunity to thank Mark Harris, who has volunteered to be a part of the Mentoring Programme for several years now. As well as being incredibly knowledgeable he is such a perfect role model, and many of our students, graduates and staff owe him more than can be successfully acknowledge here.