ITP Award Winner 2023 - Mentor of the Year / Sandra Mardell
Sandra's exceptional commitment to mentoring has rightfully earned her the 2023 Mentor of the Year award. Her passion for guiding and supporting her mentee goes above and beyond, consistently igniting enthusiasm and fostering growth. Sandra is not merely a mentor; she's a constant presence, offering positive challenges and instilling values of integrity and self-awareness. Through her dedicated mentorship, Sandra has not only altered the trajectory of her mentee's life but has also become an inspiring figure, motivating her mentee to aspire to follow in her impactful footsteps.
We talked with Sandra to understand her role as a mentor and the importance of mentoring in both her professional journey and that of her mentees.
1. How did you get into the industry? Can you tell us about your career to date?
I entered this industry through a recommendation from my daughter, who has been a part of M247 for a decade. My career journey has been diverse, primarily encompassing three decades of working in the voluntary sector. I have held roles in housing for Anchor Trust and Salford City Council, where I managed a team of 14 staff.
2. Why and how did you start mentoring?
I have been involved in mentoring throughout my career, even though it was not explicitly labelled as "Mentor" in my previous roles before joining M247. I have consistently taken on the responsibility of guiding and supporting new employees, offering mentorship as a regular practice within my team daily.
3. Can you share a specific instance where your mentorship had a significant impact on someone’s personal or professional development?
During my tenure as Manager of a Home Improvement Agency within the voluntary sector, I had a notable experience with a member of my team. Through mentorship, I identified and acknowledged his skills and capabilities, which encouraged him to seek out other opportunities within the organisation. As a result of our discussions and my guidance, he pursued a role with an American company, venturing into a completely different career path. I emphasised the transferable nature of his skills and helped build his self confidence in his own worth and capabilities; which led to his successful transition and career development.
4. In your view, what are the key qualities or strategies that make effective mentorship, especially in a professional setting?
Effective mentorship from my viewpoint can be defined by several key qualities and strategies. Patience, understanding, commitment, enthusiasm to share knowledge, and a willingness to invest time are crucial attributes for successful mentorship. Additionally, the ability to provide guidance and support while understanding the mentee's needs and goals is essential for a fruitful mentor-mentee relationship.
5. Your mentee speaks of the indelible mark you have left on your them and the wider business. How do you envision your impact continuing, and what legacy do you hope to leave through your mentorship?
Throughout my years of mentorship, I have witnessed numerous individuals grow and thrive in their careers. The legacy I aim to leave is one of imparting knowledge and life skills that are transferable across various job roles. I emphasise to my mentees that all skills and abilities can be applied in different professional settings; what is crucial is understanding and learning about the specific industry they are involved in. My vision for continuing impact is to empower individuals to recognise the value of their skills beyond their current roles and help them navigate new opportunities by leveraging their capabilities and knowledge. I aspire to instill in them the confidence to excel and adapt in any career path they choose.
6. What benefits have you experienced from being a mentor?
The primary benefit I have gained from being a mentor over the years is the genuine satisfaction derived from witnessing individuals grow and flourish in their chosen career paths.
7. Your mentee mentioned a desire to follow in your footsteps. What advice would you give to aspiring mentors, and what principles do you think are essential for fostering meaningful mentor-mentee relationships?
To aspiring mentors, I would highlight the immense satisfaction in witnessing someone's development. The essential principles for fostering meaningful mentor-mentee relationships include flexibility, trust, respect, open and honest communication, as well as understanding and respecting others. These principles form the foundation for a strong, supportive, and mutually beneficial relationship between mentors and mentees.
8. Finally, what does winning this award mean to you?
Winning this award was an overwhelming and surreal moment for me. However, I passionately believe that while I received the recognition, it is equally a win for my team. As I often emphasise, there is no "I" in team. While I dedicate time to mentor the team, everyone else continues with their roles, ensuring business as usual.
Moreover, this award represents an opportunity for me to highlight the importance of "Mentoring" (distinct from training) and advocate for its significance within the broader scope of M247's business culture.