I have had several meetings with Barry since the first blog, he has been very approachable throughout. In the most recent meeting we further discussed life after graduation, it was great to hear more about Barry’s incredible career and experiences. I think it is these anecdotes and the advice Barry gives along with them that have taught me the most about what makes a leader. Reflecting on my initial goals for this scheme, I now know the importance of having an action plan after graduation but also being prepared to change this as necessary.
I noticed something quite humbling, just before his meeting with me Barry had met up with his mentee from last year. This highlighted to me the fact that this scheme provides you with so much more than just a year of mentoring advice, it provides you with contacts and mentors for life.
Over the last few months my mentor has provided me with the contact details for several people in the field, so far I have met with two of these people. This has given me the opportunity to learn about different perspectives, their job roles and their journeys. The first was a meeting with the youngest dental public health consultant, Dr. Tomson. I made my way to the offices, feeling very out of place in the waiting room where everyone else, dressed up in suits, looked like they meant business. But once I was called in the friendly environment instantly made me feel comfortable, Dr Tomson told me about her career journey and the advice she would give at this stage of my career. I learnt more about her day to day work which was very interesting – this completely changed my perception of a career in dental public health.
I also got the opportunity to make a trip to London and attend a meeting at the Shard offices with Mr Rattan. I made my way down to London, it was a pleasant break during a busy week at uni. After entering the offices I went through security and was presented with the task of navigating my way to the right floor, after taking ending up on the wrong floor a few times I finally made it to the right office. The views from the waiting room kept me occupied while I waited to be called in. The meeting went really well, again we discussed career pathways as well as the current trends in dentistry. Making my way to the exit was just as hard as getting to the office but once out I then had the rest of the day to spend in London before getting back to Birmingham.
Everyone I have met so far has told me how lucky I am to have Barry as my mentor, they have nothing but praise for him and his work. And he has always told me that in a leadership role you will have to make unpopular decisions because of the role you are in but it depends on you whether people are able to dissociate the job role from you as an individual and give you that respect.