Karren Brady gives career advice — from mentoring to returning to work after kids

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she helps out a woman who needs tips on becoming a good mentor and a mum who wants to return to work.

Q: I’ve been asked by my company to be a mentor to a new member of staff.

I am very flattered, but also a bit anxious, as it’s something I’ve never done before. Do you have any tips for how to be a good mentor?

Sarah, via email

A: A mentor’s role is to be a trusted advisor who gives honest and practical advice, so this is a fantastic accolade for you.

The basis of any mentoring relationship is that you always have your mentee’s best interests at heart so they can progress their career and be the best version of themselves.

You need to start by asking them what their goals are and try to understand their personality, strengths and development areas. As you are mentoring a new member of staff, you can help them understand the culture, the processes and best practices of your company.

Ask them questions to draw out their personality so you can build trust, making sure you are an active listener.

Tell them about the mistakes you have made – that way they can learn from you – and help them celebrate their successes in the role, as this will increase their confidence.

The best mentors share their time and wisdom and are invested in their mentee’s development.

Suggest courses, projects or areas they can work in and improve on, and try to lead by example, as they will be very influenced by how you behave and what you do.

Mentoring takes patience and time, but it will be hugely rewarding for both you and them.

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

Q: I used to be an office manager, but stopped work to be a full-time mum when I had my kids.

Now they’re older, I want to go back to work in a similar kind of role, but all the job ads I see seem to say I’d need to be proficient in IT systems that I’ve never even heard of!

It feels really intimidating and has put me off applying as the whole workplace seems to have changed in the decade I’ve been away. Help – I don’t know what to do!

Hannah, via email

A: Don’t be put off! So many of these skills you can easily learn. First, get on the internet and check out what the latest IT systems are, and research what online courses you can do to bring yourself up to date and become proficient in them.

You might find that they are just newer versions of programs you have used before and are already very comfortable with – and if not, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t pick them up quickly.

Of course, some things will have changed in the working world in the past 10 years, but many of these transformations are positive, especially for working parents, with flexibility now being offered in businesses all over the country.

Also, remember that in the 10 years you have been at home you will have developed new skills, such as creative problem solving, multitasking and time management, and these are all hugely beneficial in an office environment.

If you know someone who is currently working in a similar role or even just in the same area, speak to them about the skills you might need, how everything works, and pick their brains so you can apply for jobs knowing what’s expected. Best of luck.

Compiled by: Claire Frost

Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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