Back in late April, as I drank coffee in my tiny flat looking over the rooftops of Paris I made an excellent decision. I decided to apply to be part of the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Scheme. It was a sunny bank holiday, a rare day off work, and I was kicking myself for not realising what a great opportunity this was sooner. Holed up inside, with two days to go until submissions were closed I wrote out my application and hoping for the best, I sent it off.
I was thrilled and surprised to be invited for an interview. As I caught the train to Birmingham and set foot on campus for the first time in 12 months I was excited to be back and thinking about my next steps. With my interview completed, I hoped that I had put forward my case for wanting a mentor effectively and that I had showed myself in the best light.
When I learnt that I had been successfully partnered with Louise Barnes, the CEO of Crew Clothing, I was delighted, though a little intimidated. Flicking through her biography online, I was taken aback by just how influential she is within her field and the realisation that I was now lucky enough to be guided and supported by her during my final year at Birmingham.
We were first in touch over the summer and arranged to meet in person early in the autumn term. Walking onto campus to meet her, I was admittedly nervous. I hoped that I had prepared well enough and that she wouldn’t be disappointed to have me as a mentee. But I needn’t have worried. I immediately felt at ease with her and our conversation flowed easily. We discussed the things I would like to get out of the scheme, as well as my plans in the both the short and long term. She challenging my thinking and I left our first meeting with plenty of food for thought.
A few days later, I received a gift from Louise in the post- a book entitled ‘The Essential Enneagram- The definitive personality test and self-discovery guide’. Though usually sceptical of ‘self-help’ books, this book was one of the most informative things I’ve ever read. Through careful self-evaluation, I was able to determine my personality type and its associated traits. Though I am still working my way through the exercises, it has already helped me to increase my self-awareness and to better understand the way I think, feel and experience things. It goes on to show what my personality type means for my well-being, how I relate to others, as well as highlighting my strengths.
I am due to meet with Louise again in two weeks’ time at a store opening in Leamington Spa. I’m excited to see Louise ‘in action’ and I look forward to sitting down and catching up, as well as talking about what I have learnt about myself by reading the book. I’m so glad that I made the decision to apply to this scheme, I know that Louise is going to help me make the most of opportunities and support me to plan for the future.
Ellie Pinfield, 4th Year International Business Management with Language (French)