Mentoring - helping women make their wishbone their backbone

This is a guest blog from Julie Pereira, company secretary and VP corporate services at Capgemini.


As company secretary of Capgemini UK, my days are full, structured and fulfilling but I make sure I still have time to mentor 3-4 women, and do it carefully and with total confidentiality – even writing this makes me feels like I am breaking a secret code!


I decided recently that I enjoy mentoring colleagues and particularly women, as it’s not coaching, managing or reviewing, but it’s purely relational and involves listening and guiding. I have mentored women in the workplace for many years and often hear them say things like, “I’d be unstoppable if only I could get started with…”.  They sometimes need a gentle nudge or sometimes a hard shove before the “ah ha” moment comes, and that’s where I come in.  


I listen and advise, sometimes providing totally obvious tips, and soon they are out of the traps like the proverbial greyhound.


I tend not to publicise my mentoring as I want others to comment on the difference, or notice the change, without my prompting.  Seeing my mentee’s confidence and impact grow fills me with pride. Sometimes, given we’re in a male dominated work space, my mentoring helps women find their voice and gives them the “oomph” to do whatever they wish to achieve.


Am I flying the flag for diversity; doing it to promote workplace equality; or just responding to a simple request to guide and assist someone in a moment of professional angst? I believe it’s all of those and that more women in IT would benefit from taking time out with a mentor, me included!


Mentoring women has been rewarding as I have seen “wish lists” turned into action and positive decisions to stop something, which can be just as enabling. I like the “work friendship” angle that mentoring has given me.  I meet women who I wouldn’t usually come across, in diverse roles and with very different backgrounds, but their issues are universal and fixable.


It’s really a pleasure to mentor women, as we have SO much wisdom and experience to share. I do give honest and sometimes unpalatable advice knowing that the mentee will benefit at some point. What I have noticed is that all my mentees, irrespective of gender, want to make their wishbone their backbone and what pure joy it is to see that happen.


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