I can’t remember a time in my professional life when I haven’t had a mentor. Usually found by accident, these various people have had the most fundamental impact on me, my decision making, and in some respects the direction my career has taken.
As a newly appointed Trainee Auditor my Head of Internal Audit very quickly became my mentor, although I wouldn’t have put that label on the relationship then. She was one of just a handful of female Senior Managers in a very male dominated environment, and I was the only female in an office full of men. What started out as a bit of female solidarity rapidly turned into a classic mentoring relationship.
Lynne was extremely knowledgeable in the field; there was nothing that I came across that she hadn’t had to deal with before.
She was wise in terms of advising about relationship building and using this as a technique for a partnership approach to audit. She coached me in these skills and I am still convinced to this day, that this is the edge that auditors need to get really good meaningful outcomes.
She had a great network both inside and outside the organisation that she willingly introduced me to help me build my own network of professional people to call upon.
She showed me that when it came to changing career direction, putting your faith in the sound principles of Audit , the inquisitive mind, the listening skills, the development of the “audit nose” were all talents that were entirely transferable, invaluable in a much broader sense that the confines of our little Internal Audit department.
Most importantly, she was a role model. I felt then, as I do now, that if I can turn out to be half the person that I consider her to be, then I will have done okay.
So, why the picture of the Ambassadors? Early in my Internal Audit training I recall reading an article in the IIA magazine, I don’t remember the title, the author wrote about how for him the painting was an allegory for the role of the Auditor navigating a sea of diplomacy, calling upon the various tools and techniques available to him to help him find his way. The article struck a chord, ever aware of the sensitivity of situations you can find yourself in as a pair of independent eyes, but for me the vital tool wasn’t the paraphernalia on the table, the Globe, the Sexton and so on, it was the depiction of the importance of relationships with people. I wonder what the two Gentlemen in the picture discussed with each other in their privileged position? Did they support and advise each other to get a good outcome? In those days, in that political climate possibly not, but in the 21st Century this was what the picture said to me.
This brings me back to mentors. Lynne was the first, and I still turn to her today for her good advice and support, she taught me how to be open to learn from others, and in doing so paved the way for some great learning from other mentors in other roles and organisations.
She showed me that mentoring as a form of paying forward learning can provide great outcomes for learners in perhaps the most unexpected ways, beyond immediate short term work based problems, having impact that rather like the painting echo through the years.
Jane Pound MIIA
This article is the view of the author and in no way reflects the view or policy of the IIA.