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WORDS MEGAN TATUM


T buyingbusinesstravel.com


HE IDEA OF THE MENTOR is ancient – quite literally. The concept can be traced back to Ancient Greece and is named after a character who offers sage advice to a young man in Homer’s Odyssey.


But despite its 3,000-year old


roots, it’s only in the last decade or so that the concept has evolved from a loosely inter- preted label for a confidant or wise friend to something a lot more structured. Now men- torships are commonly used by businesses to nurture talent and by individuals looking to further their careers.


In fact, formalised mentoring programmes


have practically gone mainstream, with 70 per cent of Fortune 500 companies now having their own schemes up and running. And the travel management industry is no exception, with a number of new mentoring ideas emerging in the sector.


One such example was launched by Neth- erlands-based Corporate Travel Association (CORTAS). New members are now offered a “buddy” among those more experienced members when they join in an effort to plug a gap in the training and ongoing educational tools available to travel buyers, says Steph- anie Smook, CORTAS managing director. “Apart from associations organising edu- cational events, there’s not a lot of training; there’s no travel management academy. Everyone has to learn by doing. At CORTAS we thought about how we could help these


people that might be new to our association, new to the industry, and so decided to imple- ment a buddy programme.” With only buyers rather than suppliers among members the scheme facilitates “very open and honest conversations,” adds Smook – who is also regional director EMEA at ACTE. “They can share everything with each other. That leads to it being extremely helpful for everybody,” she says. The format is informal, too, with the frequency and type of contact simply agreed between mentor and mentee. It was a similar desire to tap into expertise


and boost personal development opportuni- ties within the industry that prompted ITM to add its own scheme in May this year. Open to its 4,000 members, mentors and mentees are carefully matched and encouraged to connect around four times per year (though it can be more) to discuss a range of career-related topics from communication skills, to work- life balance and personal confidence. “Feedback is exceptional,” says a spokes-


person. “The structure allows them to apply a different lens to certain scenarios, support- ing them in a confidential and impartial way. ITM supports a coach-led approach, allowing its members to focus on their development and their approach versus performance.”


ONLINE PLATFORMS Meanwhile, for buyers unable to access cor- porate-level schemes, technology is emerging to open up the benefits of mentorships more


Up to times 5


faster rates of progression and promotion for individuals in mentorship schemes


2019 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 93


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