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How having a mentor helped me get ahead in my career

Category: Learning and Development, Career Development, Personal Development, Mentoring, Capita, development, mentor, talent development, mentorship, professional development

Career and Talent Development

Dal Mahal Operations Director within Government Services

Dal Mahal joined Capita 18 years ago as a customer service agent and has taken on various roles since, from Team Leader to Operations Manager. While she has moved up the career ladder, it was taking part in a mentoring scheme last year that gave her the confidence to take a big step in her career. Now, as Operations Director within Government Services, she talks about the importance of believing in yourself and not being afraid to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to help you grow in your career.

I was fortunate to be put forward for the 30% club, a mentoring programme in which female mentees are matched with senior mentors from another organisation. I had wanted a mentor, but I didn’t necessarily want one from Capita – I was really interested in learning how people operate outside of Capita because I’d only ever worked here so this was the perfect mentoring scheme for me. It was really interesting to see how another organisation saw women in the workplace and how they see women progressing in their career. My mentor was a senior executive at HSBC and in the meetings that we had he asked what I wanted to do, what the barriers were and why I felt I wasn't progressing further. He really helped me open up and knock some of those barriers down that I’d put up, and gave me different perspectives which really helped me in applying for the job that I'm in now.  

In order to overcome some of those barriers I was facing, like putting together my CV and being nervous about interviewing, my mentor suggested speaking to other people so that I could get more perspectives and work out what I needed to do to feel comfortable doing these things. And it did really help! The mentoring programme itself actually included seminars and listening to others was really helpful. It was great to see successful women up on stage talking about their careers and how they’ve progressed, what they’ve found good and bad. It was absolutely inspiring.

Reaching my goals

The mentoring programme allowed me to stop feeling so scared. Within weeks of being in the programme, I’d put my CV together – something I hadn’t done in many years – because my mentor made me believe in myself. I felt like I came out of our meetings a new person. He gave me the confidence to go forward and take on any new role that I wanted to. I’d previously say to myself that maybe women can’t go higher or if I go to an interview I’ll get turned down and the rejection will be terrible. But my mentor gave me the confidence to say I have the potential and I just need to go out there and grab those opportunities. That’s what I want to pass on to anyone reading this who needs to hear it because I just wish someone had told me this sooner. With hard work and dedication you can keep pushing and achieve your goals. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the education behind you, you have young children, you’re single or you’re just starting out in your career, you can make it with determination and Capita will support you all the way.

What’s uncomfortable will help you grow

My advice is don’t be scared, believe in yourself, voice your opinions and stand by them. Speak to your manager, tell them what you want to do and what direction you want to go in and then start taking on additional responsibility. Go to meetings and put yourself in uncomfortable situations, like presentations or networking. You need to be able to demonstrate that you’ve done these things and that you’re broadening your horizons. That’s one thing I’ve done with my manager, I’ve said ‘Let me stand up in front of 200 people and do that presentation’ – it used to kill me and I couldn’t sleep at night, but doing it helped me to grow and now I don’t think twice about that kind of thing. If it wasn’t for my mentor, my manager and work colleagues I wouldn’t be where I am now – and if I can do it, so can you!

The 30% Club is the world’s largest cross-company mentoring programme in which female employees in management positions are matched with senior mentors from another organisation. At Capita, we have an ongoing commitment to gender diversity and for the past three years we’ve taken part in this global programme. We plan to enrol again this year, with the aim to empower more of our female colleagues to reach higher.

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