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Keen to find a way of fast-tracking the development of new leaders, the division manager of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences in SGS Philippines worked in partnership with the HR team to design a new mentoring program. This program, which works alongside our existing leadership development program, enables leadership talent to tap into the knowledge and wisdom of existing senior business managers.

In 2017, we piloted the program within the Agriculture, Food and Life division using four mentors, including the division manager, and four mentees. Over three months, the mentors and mentees met one-to-one to share insights, ideas and perspectives. The HR team also organized meetings with the mentors and, separately, with the mentees to gather feedback on their experiences. On completion of the pilot, the mentees were invited to present the outcomes of their mentoring experience at a closing ceremony.

All the mentees valued the opportunity to openly communicate with their mentors and benefited from the experience by gaining a deeper understanding of SGS and how they could become effective business leaders. The mentors found that the process helped them to better understand their mentors’ desires and motivations, as well as perceived obstacles for potential leaders. A key learning point was that mentoring should not be time bound, as more time was needed to develop trust within the relationships, and for mentors and mentees to feel comfortable opening up to one another. Therefore, the mentoring process is continuing, with relationships between mentors and mentees developing further since the pilot.

Some reflections from mentees:

“The most beneficial part for me was when my mentor invited me to speak at an Executive Committee meeting. At that moment, I realized the purpose of the whole program is to prove that all employees, regardless of position, have a voice.” – Bea Ventura

“The most important change I have seen in myself is that I have gained a new understanding of how to influence team members. As a manager, I can help them to learn and develop in their roles while considering future growth in terms of leadership and their own personal development … Through mentoring, I’ve acquired a different attitude toward driving performance. I’ve learned the importance of being positive about outcomes (even when the outcomes are negative), accepting that not all decisions will lead to success, and when we do experience failure, we can go back to the plan and make the necessary changes to work out.” – Harold Ebora

“Now that I have been through the mentoring program, I plan to focus on my team’s strengths and see how we can complement and help one another.” – Jinelle Picones

In 2018, we plan to increase the number of mentees and mentors across the network. We have developed guidelines on running an effective mentoring program and plan to communicate this in early 2018.