Why Peter Whiting SEMBA2004 plans to mentor people for the rest of his career
When London Business School alumnus Peter Whiting SEMBA2004 completed his MBA, he knew it was only the beginning of a lifelong journey with LBS.
When he explored different ways to stay connected, he discovered a real need. Alumni-student mentorship: an investment in time that would earn transformative rewards. Having already mentored colleagues, Peter was certain his professional experience coupled with his sharpened toolkit could help develop students from within the LBS community.
Mentorship can often fall short on an executive’s to do list. Peter, with 25-year international track-record of building global brands in commercial, marketing and strategy roles at Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola and Fosters and running his own corporate finance advisory business, admits he a mentor could have made the world of difference to his professional journey.
“I worked in Russia in the 1990s where it really was economically turbulent,” he explains. “I hadn’t been mentored enough and it would have been hugely beneficial to have a more experienced person’s perspective on the challenging things that I was doing.”
The challenges he refers to are substantial. He spent his formative years in marketing global brands worked in corporate turnarounds, partnered at a corporate finance advisory company, and became a COO of a mobile telecoms start-up. With such a rare profile and a broad range of experience, Peter was confident he could “help people chart their own paths”. And so he joined the mentorship programme at LBS.
For Peter, it’s to help mould the next generation of business leaders. He says that the LBS experience is something everyone is proud of. “It’s a profound, wonderful and humbling experience. You don’t want to lose the things you felt and learnt while you were there,” he says. Mentoring current students keeps his connection with the School alight.
When people think of mentoring, they often think of someone within the same organisation, offering guidance and counselling. But mentorship between students and alumni can be as, if not more, beneficial. Peter’s personal approach to student mentorship is to help fine-tune their goals and then, support and guide them along the journey.
“What do you want to get out of it?” That’s the first question to ask, says Peter, who quickly discovered that his 2015 assigned mentee, Raja Prasanna EMBALS2015, was looking for help navigating potential career options.
Raja says: “Peter was quick to distil my thoughts and was very composed. He helped me with his questioning and suggestions.”
Peter helped Raja come to some conclusions. “We looked at different career routes together; and used the psychometric test data [from the EMBA]. Then, I asked, ‘Based on what we know, what is the best route for you?’
“As our work progressed he explored opportunities and showed an ability to adapt. I was very impressed,” says Peter.
After refining Raja’s goals, Peter supported him in choosing electives aligned with his pathway. “Raja did most of the work,” says Peter. “It was my job to help him ask the right questions.”
What impact does it have? It can be transformational. Since they met, emailed and skyped, Raja received a significant promotion from Market Sector Manager at Linde Gas to Commercial Manager at the same firm. Peter says it’s a privilege to have been invited into another person’s professional journey. Further, seeing people change in the way they set out to makes it simply “an unmissable experience”. “That’s why I intend to continue mentoring for the rest of my career,” says Peter.
As an LBS mentor, you can help guide the next generation of business leaders and make a difference to their future. If you would like to get involved, go to: www.thecampaign.london.edu/volunteer