Before I go on to talk about my experience so far with Andrew Garner, I think it’s important to highlight just how big an opportunity the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme is. If you’re in two minds about applying, just imagine yourself telling somebody that your mentor is the Commercial Director of Sainsburys, or the Group Chief Executive of AMV BBDO, or if you’re really lucky… one of the most successful Executive Search Consultants in the country! The programme provides fantastic access to some of the most successful individuals in the country, whose advice many people would (and in some cases do) pay a lot of money to for.
One of the first things I did after finding out that Andrew Garner was my mentor was buy his book from Amazon; not to impress him, but rather to familiarise myself with the concept of career management as until then I’d given my own career very little thought. Fast-forward to my first face-to-face meeting with Andrew a few weeks back and his first question to me is simply “What’s the plan?”. I was quite taken aback by the abruptness of it, expecting more of a ‘let’s get to know each other before cracking on with this mentoring’ approach, but it actually forced me to think about (and articulate) where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there. Turns out my ‘GPS’ was way off. Throughout the rest of the meeting Andrew continued to challenge me intellectually, something which proved exhausting and to a certain extent, demoralising. However after going home and reflecting I realised two things:
1) Given his supreme business acumen, it was always going to be hard to keep up with him, but if by the end of this year I could, then I would be able to keep up with anybody.
2) Andrew genuinely cared about helping me succeed.
How do I know the second? Well he could have spent the whole meeting on auto-pilot, listening to me rant on about my work placement abroad which I had recently completed, but instead he framed the whole discussion around improving my employability and chances of getting a graduate job, and as a result I left the meeting far more enlightened than before.
Lastly (as I know this is a huge unknown for prospective ALMP participants), the communication with my mentor has been incredibly easy and open so far. In our first meeting Andrew invited me to call him whenever I wanted, promising to always get back to me at the nearest opportunity. I’ve since spoken with him several times over the phone, gaining specific advice for upcoming interviews (as well as all-important feedback on rejections!).
I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year with the ALMP, and (as you can probably tell from my first paragraph) it feels great to have someone so successful in your corner.