Developing leadership skills through mentoring

Leigh Hall

Using the tools and resources we offer at SBG, everyone is empowered to own their personal growth to create the next step in their career. Whether that next step is broadening and growth within a current role, seeking new skills or moving around the business to advance knowledge – we support whatever’s next for SBG’ers.

One of the tools available is mentoring relationships to learn from others. I’ve been mentored since April 2021, read more about my experience below.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT sBG

I am the Head of Information Security Engagement, Architecture, and Delivery in the SBG InfoSec Brand team. The role was established about six months ago and I like to think of it as the ‘delivery engine’ for infosec – we hold the key relationships with our SBG Tribes through the Engagement squad, and we drive the improvement of InfoSec across the business through The Architecture Squad.

My Delivery squad stitches all that together whilst taking the driving seat on landing key InfoSec initiatives for the our brand.

Over my career I’ve worked in most InfoSec disciplines at one time or another and I’ve spent a lot of time building teams in different organisations. The opportunity and challenge for me here in this role is huge – we’re constantly trying to find ways of making InfoSec faster, enabling our Tribes.

WHEN DID YOU START BEING MENTORED, AND WHAT DID YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE FROM IT?

I’ve been part of the SBG Leadership Mentoring scheme since April this year. I’ve long had aspirations to move into a leadership role, and within InfoSec I’ve been given the opportunity to spend time on development activities towards this, including formal training and picking up additional responsibilities within the Tribe.

When the Mentoring scheme started I immediately put my name down for it. We managed one session before I successfully landed a leadership role in InfoSec – possibly the most successful mentoring session of all time! 🙂 Since then I’ve been virtually meeting regularly with my mentor and exploring various challenges and opportunities that have come up.

What have you learned from being mentored?

My first takeaway from having a mentor was that I simply had someone more experienced that I could ask “the silly questions”. This was initially really useful because they were the kind of questions that were quite tough to find a clear answer to when searching and they helped to put different things in some kind of context.

But after a short amount of time this changed. And my mentoring relationship became less about simple questions and answers and more about an opportunity to talk through a scenario or to hear how someone else might have approached the same situation. So what I learned really were different ways of looking at situations or problems, and different approaches that have worked for others in the past.

Whilst I learned how to do a lot of things for myself, I learned that I didn’t need to completely reinvent the wheel every time. Having access to shared experience is invaluable.

What do you enjoy about being a Mentor?

It’s very satisfying seeing people develop and grow over time, and then reach the goals that they had set out initially.

Have you been able to take what you’ve gained from this relationship back into your day-to-day role?

Every day. The more time I’ve spent with my mentor the more I feel like I can test my ideas against what I think they would say. And of course, I can always arrange to meet to talk about a specific issue if needed.

More generally, the perception of being in a situation on my own that I need to solve in isolation has been removed. This takes away a big mental barrier in some situations.

What would you say to someone who is looking to start their own Mentorship journey?

For me it was initially quite daunting because I didn’t know what to expect. In reality it’s the sharing of experiences with someone who has likely been through similar to what you can expect in your career. There are no right and wrong things to talk about, it’s literally an opportunity to hear the thoughts of someone else who might have been through what you’re facing.

Would you recommend a Mentorship to someone?

Yes! I regret not finding formal mentors earlier in my career. You can learn a huge amount from books, videos, podcasts, etc but they can’t relate experience as effectively as talking to someone who’s been through similar.

Author: Marion Duncan