John was recently interviewed for a feature in Manchester Business Week about the impact of mentors and how they can help your business. See below for the article:
John Whitty, CEO of Managed Services Provider Solar Communications.
In any industry mentoring is important for extracting and nurturing talent, but it is within the IT sector that not only is it important, but it is also curiously dynamic.
The classic mentoring paradigm sees an older, more experienced, and more senior colleague guiding a younger less experienced team member through the functions, processes, challenges and expectations of a business. The mentor fields questions, offers advice, develops strategies, reviews progress, all with the aim of the recipient emerging as a more rounded, competent and informed member of the team.
This is certainly the case within the IT sector. Those of us who have worked within the industry for many years have witnessed the growth, the changes, and become resilient and responsive to the mercurial nature of a fast-moving and demanding market, indeed six months is a long time in IT as much can change.
However, there is something that sets our industry apart from others, and so influences the dynamic of mentoring relationships. The likelihood is, that within most other industries, any new-start will, at best, have only a cursory knowledge of the field they are about to enter.
This shifts the weight of the mentoring relationship firmly towards the more experienced colleague. The IT sector though, attracts a candidate who has grown up around technology, using software and applications not long ago deemed specialist, with an almost unthinking ease and flair. They are skilled in using dynamic and leading edge technologies that older colleagues probably lack experience with.
This levels the extent to which each individual can teach the other, and creates what we believe is a quite unique mentoring relationship. The older, more experienced, and senior colleague can still educate the new-start as to the nuances of the business, whilst the new-start can share their experiences with and knowledge of the technologies they themselves use.
Mentoring thus, has a much more reciprocal structure within the IT industry. We find it benefits everyone, and is something we take great pride in.