The Importance of mentorship and the art of paying it forward

Throughout my career I have had two or three mentors that have definitely had a huge impact on my professional path and have left an indelible stamp on the way I operate today.

In turn, these experiences have inspired me to try to do the same for others – the right advice given through more informal interactions, over a coffee or work trips.

As we are all currently seeking more connection and relying on community, it got me thinking. I have recently experienced a great level of camaraderie.

The pandemic has shut down universities in the middle of fashion student’s final collection preparations and graduate fashion weeks have been cancelled. Recent grads, who have been fortunate to find employment, must find it very hard to experience ‘normal’ social interactions at work as ‘home office’ and ‘distanced ‘ working conditions become standard. Therefore, frequent honest feedback, listening to shared experiences and inspiration through conviction are just some of the many attributes that can be difficult to experience through flexible and remote working.

With a clear turn towards an increase in digital and virtual work experiences, the evolution of office life is unfolding through a difficult labour market. For example, a lot of employers are switching their recruitment processes online. This may play to a new generation of digital natives, but I am sure it can be challenging in many different ways like making a good impression online as compared to in person interviews.

Personally, I think the importance of good mentors could be life changing especially through what is a confusing time in our industry. I think it is so important to nurture encouraging behaviours and help others create a new perspective in looking outwards. Conversely mentors can learn a lot from the new generation coming through with novel mindsets, values and new ideas.

I think at this time pre and post grads need to be as flexible as possible and build the biggest structure of knowledge underneath their work, developing opposite disciplines from their ultimate strengths. Who knows whether we will go back to normal after the pandemic or will there be significant change? All I know is we are entering a new era where positivity and optimism go a long way in helping face the current adversity in a tenacious and positive way and continually investing in the next generation will be key.