As a large global employer it is important that we make a positive impact in our local communities, and to be a good corporate citizen.
Throughout the Group, our Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) teams and employees work together to support a variety of community initiatives and organisations. Collectively our focus is on equipping people with the skills they need to lead successful and rewarding lives.
Seven members of our London team have recently concluded their support of a fantastic community mentoring scheme – Envision, which works with disadvantaged young people to develop employability skills by empowering them to tackle real-life social problems.
Our PraxisIFM mentors must have done a great job as they were later named Mentor Team of the Year by the charity. Keen to hear more we caught up with one of the seven, Mimi Elsayed, an Assistant Administrator in our London Private Client & Corporate team to find out how the mentoring went.
Why did you choose to get involved in the Envision mentoring scheme?
There were a few reasons why I wanted to get involved, firstly it felt like an amazing opportunity to give something back to the community. Knowing the initiative would be supporting underprivileged teenagers was a really big motivator for me, it was a chance to use my experience to make a difference. If I could help just one individual or give one piece of advice that would help them towards their future, it would make the whole experience worth it.
Another positive factor was that as part of the scheme the young people work on a real-life fundraising initiative, to support a charity of their choice, which they bring to life with input from the mentors and scheme leaders.
Lastly, the mentoring was an opportunity to speak with people of a different age and generation to myself. It was a great chance to challenge my own communication skills, having to adapt my usual vocabulary or tone for example, to speak in a professional yet age-appropriate manner.
What has the mentoring involved?
Our scheme was a bit different to normal in that it was done virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time. While this provided some limitations, it did add an extra dimension for both the young people and us as mentors to develop virtual communication skills.
In our first session, it was all about getting to know each other. We had a small cohort of young people, all from the same school and through ice breaker discussions we started to develop a rapport with them. One game we played was for the young people to match a list of our first jobs with the mentor they thought had had that job!
In another session we discussed who our heroes were. I was really moved by how many of them named footballer and child poverty activist Marcus Rashford as theirs.
In our last session, the mentees presented the quiz that they’d created for their fundraising project. The quiz featured descriptions of well-known role models and we had to guess who they were. We used this as our opportunity to provide them with valuable feedback ahead of their pitch challenge, where they would present their project to a panel of judges or ‘dragons’, aiming to win their support. Our feedback mainly focused on communication skills such as speaking slower, not rushing, maintaining eye contact and speaking loudly and clearly.
The sessions were also a great opportunity for the young people to ask us questions that they’ve always wanted honest answers to – for example is it more important to pick a job you enjoy or one that pays well?
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the mentoring?
For me this comes back to making an impact, no matter how small. One girl in our group was really reserved when we first started the sessions, but by the end she had taken all our advice on board and really came out of her shell. It was so rewarding to see her confidence blossom and to have made such an immediate impact. I was so proud of her and hopefully her newly developed communication skills will help her in her future path, whether that be for college or university interviews or getting a job.
Why would you recommend getting involved in a mentoring scheme to others?
I would 100% recommend it. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community and although it’s mainly to help the mentees, you get so much out of the experience as well. As you build a rapport with people you become invested in their development and proud of their hard work and progress. You help to give them confidence that they can make a difference in the world.
It was a really rewarding experience and definitely something I will do again.
You can find out more about our community initiatives here.