Next in our mentors/mentees blog series sharing stories from FoL’s leaders programme mentoring is Senior Development Manager for Strategic Projects and Property at the Greater London Authority and Alumni Rep Sarah Birt.
Find out more about the series, Mentor Awards and the #Alumni500 celebration here.
I was lucky to have Neil Parlett, a Director in Planning Development and Regeneration at Lambert Smith Hampton, as my Future London Leaders 20 mentor. During and since the programme, Neil has gone over and above to provide support and guidance. Over the past couple of years, I have hugely valued his genuine interest, his gentle encouragement and learned from his insights shared from his vast experience of projects across private and public sectors.
Personal and professional reflection
“I looked forward to each of our meetings, and came away with new perspectives, positive energy and a heightened focus”
While I’ve had mentors previously, this was first time it had been formalised and was outside the workplace. Taking on feedback from Leaders course facilitators Miffa and Brennan, I made sure I was prepared for our first meeting – I had an agenda and didn’t want Neil to be in any doubt about my ambitions, and what I wanted to discuss and get out of our relationship.
I looked forward to each of our meetings, and came away with new perspectives, positive energy and a heightened focus. We discussed examples of real-life leadership in our field. Talking about real people and real projects built upon what I was learning on the programme and was helpful to my understanding of my own leadership style, and the types of work and environment I am suited to.
I was able to critical reflect on my own personality, strengths and weaknesses – not just my professional expertise and knowledge. Our conversations drew out soft skills, communication and relatability as key aspects to leadership.
Neil also inspired me to be proactive in my career progression; to be clear what I wanted, not to be afraid to reach out to people I aspire to, to learn from them, and to be confident in what I offer.
After I finished the programme, Neil buddied me up with a brilliantly conscientious and supportive graduate who was also undertaking his RICS APC at the time; and he made time for me to give me a mock interview for my APC, give me detailed feedback and helped prepare me for my case study presentation – I couldn’t have done it without his support!