City life | By Mark Rigby

Building confidence and increasing employability through Professional Mentoring

At the conclusion of their first meeting in November 2018, Haresh Raghwani and Sinan Hameed both agreed on one thing: Sinan was lacking in confidence, particularly regarding his professional direction.

Fast forward six months and Sinan, a second year Accounting and Finance undergraduate student, now has a greater understanding of the career opportunities available to him in the world of finance.


This, in no uncertain terms, is because of his relationship with his Professional Mentor, Haresh.


“In terms of career planning, I had no idea of which path to specialise in and Haresh has been absolutely fantastic in that regard,” Sinan says.


“He explained to me the different paths and the postgraduate certificates and qualifications I could obtain to direct me towards different paths and specialisations.


“And what I really appreciate from Haresh is that he is helping me to explore pathways that he himself has not necessarily experienced. It is not just him telling me about his own experience.”

City’s Professional Mentoring Scheme was established in 2002 and has since gone from strength to strength. In the past seven years alone, the scheme has grown from 86 mentor-mentee pairs to more than 400.

In 2017, the success of the scheme was recognised at a national level when City was presented with the Alumni Engagement Award at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, the THELMAs.


The scheme’s mentors, like Haresh, come from some of the country’s most prestigious organisations and more than 70 per cent are City alumni.


“One of the key reasons for me to join the Professional Mentoring Scheme was about giving something back to City,” Haresh says.


“I felt I was in a position to encourage and motivate individuals as I received mentoring from my employers and have seen the benefits, how it can improve confidence and answer specific questions.”

Indeed, with the increased confidence Sinan has gained from Haresh’s mentorship has come greater motivation, something the mentor had hoped to impart.

“I had previously studied at university and unfortunately failed and dropped out of the course but Haresh really helped me with that,” Sinan says.


“He helped me to acknowledge the past but not to dwell on it and to learn from it.”


Sinan’s transition in the six months that he has been involved with the Professional Mentoring programme is not lost on his mentor either.


“I have seen him open up a lot more to the point that he is more receptive and I can really see how he has developed from someone who was timid and nervous,” Haresh says.


“He has really acted on the feedback and is engaged in the relationship, his studies and the career direction he wants to take.”


Under the scheme, the official relationship between mentees and their professional mentors lasts for six months. Unofficially and in reality, the relationships go on much longer, often carrying on throughout the graduates’ professional lives.


Haresh, who with Sinan is now mentoring his third City student, stays in regular contact with his previous mentees.


“We meet fairly often for a drink or dinner to talk about how things are going in life and with work,” he says.


“Sometimes they still ask for guidance and I am more than happy to help as I have seen the relationship develop into more of a friendship than anything else.”

Despite his initial misgivings about the relationship, Sinan hopes his regular conversations with Haresh will continue after their official involvement within the scheme concludes.

“Early on I was slightly apprehensive, I think I expected it to be a completely professional work relationship like you would have with a lecturer or tutor,” Sinan says.


“But while the relationship did start professionally, it has developed over time. In terms of the advice he has given me and the time he has invested with me, it is natural that I regard him as a very good friend now.”


While much of the Professional Mentoring Scheme is designed to help students increase their employability upon graduation, Haresh says the mentors get something out of it as well.


“For me it has been about learning how other people think, taking the time to step back and listen so that we can work together on their agenda,” he says.


“But it has also helped me develop my networking skills because I am not the type of person to walk into a room full of people and just start talking to them.


“Everyone just tries to help each other, the mentors and the mentees, as I think we all have an affiliation with City. Certainly for me, without studying at City, I probably would not be where I am today.”


For Sinan, who applied to become a mentee to gain a better understanding of the career options available to him, the Professional Mentoring Scheme has been invaluable. Not only has he achieved his initial goal, he has also boosted his confidence in everyday life and gained a friend to guide him through the heady world of finance.