Can having a mentor or mentee really make a difference to your career?
We know how crucial it is to put time aside for your own personal development, but inevitably, it’s the one thing that slides down the to-do list when time is tight. But can having a mentor or mentee really make a difference to your career?
We chatted to mentor Hannah Lloyd, Director at Pinstone and her mentee Kate Leeming Livestock Technical Support at Morrisons to find out.
Tell us more about how you got to where you are today. What was your career path and how did you end up in your current role?
HL: Hailing from a farming background, following my Science degree, I was drawn to a career in agricultural businesses conveying technical messages to farmers, which led me down the marketing route.
I had a couple of roles juggling sales and marketing in-house which galvanised my knowledge of how to communicate with and engage farmers.
In 2012, I joined Pinstone. I’ve since worked to grow the businesses and am now a board director heading up a growing portfolio of clients that span right across the agricultural supply chain with a key focus in the meat supply chain.
Being a people person, communications and the buzz of agency life, working with multiple organisations and businesses across the industry, has allowed me to really flourish in my career.
KL: From being very young, I always knew I wanted to work in the agricultural industry and be involved in the ‘farm to fork’ journey. I was very open minded as to what my career could look like within the industry. So I decided to study the Agri-Food Marketing with Business degree at Harper Adams University to understand further about the food supply chain post the farm gate.
As part of my degree, I was fortunate enough to undertake my placement year with the Co-op and ABP as an Agricultural Co-ordinator. This gave me a full insight into the meat supply chain.
I then returned to my final year at Harper Adams, having thoroughly enjoyed working with producers and following the product through to the retail shelf.
I joined Morrisons Food Manufacturing Graduate Scheme and after 2 years, joined the Livestock team to help build strong relationships with our supplier base and conduct farm visits to ensure compliance with Morrisons standards and policies.
Give us some background to why you decided that you’d like to have a mentor/mentee?
HL: I’ve always been lucky enough in my career to have inspirational training and people to bounce off to help me develop in my career. So, I felt I would like to give something back and offer a similar opportunity to someone else setting out in their career. The Meat Business Women mentoring scheme offered the perfect opportunity for me to mentor someone in a sector I am passionate about.
KL: When starting my new role I wanted to reach out to find someone within the MBW network that could share their knowledge & experiences to help me develop. The MBW network was the perfect platform as there are many very experienced individuals, who are willing to put the time and effort to support and develop others.
What was it about your mentee/mentor that made you think you’d like to work with them and how did you determine you’d be a good fit for each other?
HL: When Kate reached out to me, I felt I would be able to really help her with the areas she had highlighted. As she worked within the pork supply chain, it was an easy decision for me as being a pig farmers daughter I have a hands-on knowledge within that sector.
KL: Prior to reaching out to Hannah, I thought about what areas I wanted to develop. I then looked at the bank of mentors available and reviewed who may have the areas I want to develop as strengths. Seeing Hannah’s expertise and areas she could support with on her profile, I thought I could benefit from her sharing her knowledge and experience with me.
How did the initial call go? Was it an easy relationship to build, or did it take a little time to settle in to?
HL: We had planned a clear agenda for the first call to identify areas Kate would benefit from discussing and she was really open minded and chatty, so we got on well from the get-go. We’re both people people.
KL: I’d prepared a short ‘introduction’ presentation for the initial call, which covered my career so far, my development plan, the areas I wanted to develop and a bit about my personal life and values. I did this to allow Hannah to get to know me better, understand further as to why I had reached out to her and what I was hoping to get out of the mentor relationship. Hannah made me feel totally at ease, and I instantly felt I could trust sharing information with her.
What did you value most about the mentor/mentee relationship?
HL: I’ve enjoyed the mentoring sessions Kate and always come off the video calls inspired but her enthusiasm for her career development. It’s really rewarding to be able to feel like you’re helping someone develop and become more self-aware about their strengths and how to apply them. It’s helped me rethink how I work with some of my team internally at Pinstone to best support them in their career development.
KL: I always look forward to my mentor call as I always leave the call in a different mind-set about something. The way in which Hannah asks me thought provoking questions and provides me with insight into her previous experiences allows me to think about things differently and in a more positive way. She’s so encouraging and supportive, and I gain lots of new ideas on how I can develop from every call.
Is there anything you’ve learnt from it that you didn’t expect to?
HL: You can always help someone who is willing to learn and open to idea, however trivial your suggestion or idea might be. Sometimes it’s the things you take for granted that can best help others develop.
KL: Previously I hadn’t properly prioritised my development, and it often got put towards the bottom of my to do list But since gaining Hannah as a mentor and the inspiration she has passed onto me I now prioritise my development and look forward to focusing on it more.
I’ve also recently helped organise an internal networking event within Morrisons and we used an activity that Hannah mentioned to me, which colleagues really enjoyed. It was great to have my mentoring sessions benefit others as well.
In terms of time management, do you find it beneficial to take the time out of your day to focus on your personal development in this way?
HL: It’s really important to make time to focus on your own development and step away from the day job at times, I can’t stress enough how much you will get from a well-matched mentoring relationship.
KL: Yes, it allows you to take a step back and prioritise your workload whilst developing yourself. Hannah has changed my outlook on how to view your own development and the importance of doing it regularly.
Is being a mentor/mentee something that you’d recommend?
HL: I would thoroughly recommend using the Meat Business Women mentoring platform to match yourself with a potential mentor/ mentee – it’s fantastic to be able to work together and learn from like-minded people but with different experiences within a sector we’re all passionate about.
KL: Yes, I couldn’t recommend getting a mentor enough, no matter what stage you are in your career, you’ll always benefit by hearing someone else’s’ experience. The MBW mentor platform offers mentors from all sectors, and I encourage all MBW members to get a mentor as there are hugely influential and experienced individuals that are very willing to give up a generous proportion of their time to help you develop and succeed.
Huge thanks to both Hannah and Kate for their insights! Mentoring scheme is available to all Meat Business Women members. You can find out more about the MBW mentoring scheme here and become a member of MBW here.
Hannah Lloyd Director, Pinstone (left) & Kate Leeming, Livestock Technical Support, Morrisons.
Connecting incredible women in the meat industry is what we’re all about at Meat Business Women. If you’d like to connect with Hannah on LinkedIn, click here
If you’d like to connect with Kate on LinkedIn, click here
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