Mentee: Debbie McNamara, Clyde Gateway
Mentor: Fiona Westwood, Westwood Associates
Debbie McNamara, Special Advisor to the Chief Executive at Clyde Gateway, was mentored by Fiona Westwood during a transitional phase in her professional and personal life.
"When I first met Fiona, two years ago, I was at a turning point in my career. I was balancing the demands of returning to work after having two young children as well as approaching a natural conclusion with my longstanding employer. Professionally I knew I wanted to move on which was, in itself, a major step. I was determined that neither motherhood nor my career needed to diminish but what I needed was a strong, guiding hand.
"Fiona was previously a partner in a law firm and is now a management and training consultant. We both believed in being very open and direct, straight away, so there was no hanging around! We established a great rapport very quickly and from the outset created a framework within which I could begin to explore the opportunities in front of me.
"The first six to nine months were pretty intense but Fiona helped my transition from my long standing role to the fantastic position I am in now, effectively mapping the path with me. What I found most valuable was not only having a structure and focus but knowing that she understood the various professional and personal issues I faced. It was a tremendously valuable and powerful experience."
Fiona Westwood runs Management Consultancy, Westwood Associates. For her, Mentoring was a natural progression to the role she played in private practice as a lawyer.
When I worked in private practice, I had responsibility for the trainee solicitors so mentoring is really formalising what I used to do informally. Sharing knowledge and experience is very important to me.
"It was terrific working with Debbie who, although very clear in what she wanted to achieve, would also value suggestions, enjoy discussion and then make her own decisions, which is ideal as the mentee takes ownership.
"If I have any tips for anyone looking at mentoring, it is to be flexible. You can have your plans at the beginning but you need to be prepared to change and adapt. And you need to be very upfront about what you hope to achieve and what you can both bring to the party. You are drawing on a range of life experiences, it's not just the professional element."