This month we hear from David Foster SEMBA2003 about his experience of mentoring an LBS student. 

In one sentence, why is mentoring important?
Joining an LBS programme is a life-changing event, which ripples out to affect every other aspect of the way we live… a mentor has lived through this experience and can not only help their mentee to navigate the occasional waves, but also to pause and realise what an amazing experience it is.

Why did you choose to take up mentoring?
It was one of the ways that enabled me to stay involved in the School, but I was also considering a transition from direct experience consumer marketing to being an independent consultant… mentoring gave me an opportunity to find out more about the challenges faced by executives in different sectors. It worked so well that ‘fee-free’ consulting has become a critical part of my business model.

What’s been the highlight of becoming a mentor?
There have been lots of highlights, but seeing mentees figure out the solution to seemingly intractable problems is always really special.

The LBS community is global by nature. How much of your mentoring was face-to-face, versus virtual? 
In the early years I was still living and/or working in London, so most of my mentoring was face-to-face. As time progressed I had to rely on a mix of face-to-face and Skype. As with any virtual team, you have to work a lot harder at relationship-building when you’re not sitting right in front of someone… by it’s nature, the mentor relationship requires a really strong bond of trust so I would always suggest meeting in-person, at least in the initial period.

What values characterise LBS? Where does mentorship fit into the LBS culture?
Confidence, with humility. Studying with such a diverse mix of experienced people, from different cultures, countries and sectors, inevitably helps to broaden your worldview, making it generally easier to see a range of alternative solutions to challenges. Furthermore, being able to tap into this network for help, even years after graduating, gives the members of our community a formidable edge.

What is your life motto?
Among other things I teach an undergraduate module at Brighton Business School called Creativity in Enterprise, designed to help students bring a creative mindset to business challenges. I quickly tired of my students talking about ‘thinking outside the box’ so created my own version, which could possibly serve as my motto: Think freely, at will.


David Foster SEMBA2003

 

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