Hannah Jayne Moir, Senior Lecturer, Kingston University, UK

Hannah Jayne Moir

Why did you choose to take part in the mentoring programme?

From my own experiences and questions through my own PhD journey, I felt that something had been missing in terms of independent guidance, and I find a mentoring scheme would be a really beneficial opportunity to help others who may be having the same thoughts and questions to your own and you can therefore use your own experience to help facilitate others on their own journey. I was a young new academic and I wanted more experience in leadership and coaching to help develop my own skills. Mentoring is a two-way process whereby both the mentee and mentor will get something rewarding from the experience. As a mentor, it is an opportunity to enable the mentee to share and reflect on their experiences, giving them a chance to voice their thoughts and expectations and help each other. You are to facilitate and guide the mentee to have the tools to empower them. 

On reflection, how did the mentoring programme help you?

As a mentor you will find this experience enables your own self-reflection, and develops your mentor – coach skills in communication, rapport and body language, sharing understanding and discovery, developing connections and guiding support for action.

Can you identify one change that you made as a result of being part of this programme?

Typically you guide, offer support and just an opportunity to discuss thoughts with a non-judgemental person outside of your immediate circle. The process offers time to reflect and develop. As a mentor you may find yourself guiding the mentee, using signposting to enable them to prepare, plan and implement, you offer a chance to reflect on experiences and approaches and finally you may act as a coach, guiding the self-reflection, questioning points to help develop conversation and refection further, to tease out the responses. From this process you develop your own thoughts and self-reflection and find yourself going on your own journey of learning and growth! 

In your opinion, what makes a successful mentor-mentee relationship?

It is always beneficial to develop a base of how the mentor-mentee relationship will work, for example, what are the long-term aims and what is the starting point. Set some mutually agreed ground rules on how you will communicate and how often (sometimes logistically this can be tricky). For Natalia and I we were quite separate in terms of geographical location, however skype calls, emails and general messaging were really effective in maintaining contact and in the initial stages we would schedule regular catch-ups. Then we were able to meet in person through events organised by the Physiological Society. Key things to establish early on are the commitment to the relationship and what barriers may arise. Once you have agreed the expectations and ground rules you will find the relationship to be effective. I now have developed a friend for life.

Do you see any pitfalls of being a mentor/mentee?

The most important aspect of mentoring is that the situation is confidential and you give the mentee the experience to grow by facilitating and helping them identify positive growth in themselves.

Would you be a mentor in future?

The most rewarding outcome for me in mentoring is by guiding others ambitions, you help to develop or at least appreciate your own. You help to reflect on your own capabilities through your own advice and it sometimes gives you a bit of a reality check, but also that you are not alone in your own thoughts and dilemmas. I would strongly recommend the mentor experience to anyone wishing to give something back and help others.

Would you be a mentee in future?

One of the key things I have realised through my experience in mentoring, is that it does not matter what stage in your career you are, that mentee-mentoring opportunities are beneficial to all. I will always now consider being involved from both perspective’s. Being a mentee myself to be facilitated by another mentor, and to give back to the scheme in my own way as a mentor. You are never too young, too old, too inexperienced. Everyone from different stages and backgrounds can always have something positive and beneficial to offer others.

Do you have any advice for individuals considering taking part in The Society’s introductory service?

Many institutes and bodies may offer a mentoring opportunity such as the Physiological Society, and I would strongly recommend considering them, as both mentees and mentor roles. Find which scheme works for you. Whether you want a student-professional pairing, or a peer-to-peer pairing. I continue to offer my skills and experiences to mentor others and have continued this within other environments such as at my workplace. I think it is an important process to help shape and facilitate each other in our own journeys and growth. I hope those reading this find inspiration and a feeling to want to get involved and have as beneficial an experience as I have had.