Stepping Outside of the Silo

When is the right time to find a mentor? It could be 2 years into your career, or for Caroline, it could be 15 years in. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, it’s never too early or too late to seek a mentor.

We had a quick chat to Syngenta mentee, Caroline Winn, Product Safety Research Portfolio Lead at Syngenta, Jealott’s Hill.

When I started a new role at Syngenta, I had a mentor from a different department, based in a different location that was a great support. He was always available as a friendly, independent face to listen to my concerns and help me arrive at solutions.

This experience helped me to see that it’s not only a line manager that can offer advice and provide guidance – sometimes it’s better if it isn’t a line manager that plays this role.

While having a mentor that wasn’t my line manager, I found that it was good to get a second opinion of how to tackle certain issues/situations, particularly from someone who wasn’t involved in my end of year review discussions, i.e. someone who can give an independent view.

I’d just started working on a new project that was quite high profile within the business, working with a completely new set of stakeholders and the whole experience had taken me somewhat out of my comfort zone.

I was fortunate that my mentor always made himself available to discuss my day to day concerns when I asked for support. Additionally, he knew many of the people in my new team, so was able to advise me on how to approach various situations. The opportunity to learn from both of them gave me a well-rounded experience of leadership styles.

Going into this mentoring program, I hope to again build a relationship with my mentor where I can discuss my career pathway, as well as day to day topics and concerns in a non-judgemental and supportive environment.

I think it is really important to find a mentor that you are comfortable to talk to, and that you respect professionally – this led me to select my new mentor.

My previous interactions with her indicated that she would be a great choice of mentor, as she has a wealth of experience within Syngenta to draw upon, and is very approachable. While we are still in the early days of our mentoring relationship, I can confirm that this is indeed the case!

What do you think the ‘secret’ is to a good mentoring relationship?

Trust and openness.

And if there wasn’t a mentoring program such as this?

I think there would be less networking, and transfer of knowledge across departments. Despite best intentions, people tend to work in silos with those who they are co-located with or in an organisational unit with. Such a program helps to break down these barriers.

What tips or advice would you like to share with those new to mentoring?

Give it a go! Don’t be shy and be open-minded as to the opportunities that entering into a mentoring relationship could bring. Having more than one mentor/mentee relationship is also perfectly acceptable – you’ll find that different people offer different things!

Ready to build a culture of mentoring at your organisation? Start with Mentorloop.

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Em is our Marketing Manager at Mentorloop. That's a lot of 'm's! | She is passionate about crafting messages, crafternoons and craft beer.

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