At ThinkForward we really value our amazing business mentors. They contribute a huge amount of advice and support to the young people we work with and provide important insights about what it’s like to be in a work environment.

We are celebrating National Mentoring Day by hosting a meeting of a group of our business mentoring partners, and the Communities and Enterprise Company who support us to do our mentoring work. We’ll be welcoming Nomura, ICG, Blackstone, EY and Ardian to share best practice and thank them for allowing our young people to benefit from the personal and professional experiences of their talent pools.

One of our major business mentoring partnerships is with the asset management company ICG. They have been partnered with us for four years and have around 18 mentors working with ThinkForward young people who go to LEAP (London East Alternative Provision).

Head of HR, Jo Zendel explained why ICG takes part: ‘This is good for our more junior employees to develop their management skills and their coaching skills, while for some of our colleagues it’s more about them giving a bit back. But above all, it’s about developing skills for the young people.

‘Our employees get a lot out of this because they build a relationship, they see the kids develop and they see the impact. They give their time because they enjoy it too.’

Long-serving mentor Andy Lewis, is ICG’s chief legal officer. He said: ‘It’s the one chance we get to do this kind of thing.  I have been mentoring with ThinkForward for four years. It has been really good to see the different classes come through. Every year I can see positive changes in the young people, and we do see their development. It’s very different from everything else I do and for me that makes it very interesting and worthwhile.

Imogen Lush, who works in HR and payroll, believes that mentoring breaks down barriers and prepares students for the world of work: ‘I think it helps young people see that people who work in offices are approachable, we are just people like them. It’s important that young people feel comfortable coming into this sort of environment. If they have a job interview in the future they will be more relaxed and can see it as a normal experience.

Feedback from the LEAP students demonstrates just how much they get out of the sessions.  Rahat said: “I learned that you have to be brave when talking in public, it was scary but I felt proud after.”

Naheedul, who was partnered with Andy Lewis commented: “My mentor was calm. This was his fourth time doing mentoring and he had so much knowledge I can learn from him.

The final word goes to Ellis who said after his business mentoring session: “Today was wicked as I got to be around successful people who really want to help me in my future, I just want to say thanks to my mentor for all his advice.”


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