In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn

Posted by IAB Australia On April 28, 2020

Reflections on the IAB Mentorship Program

Peter Barry – Regional Manager ANZ, Pubmatic & IAB Mentor

Growing up we all have role models – parents, siblings, teachers that we look to for guidance. They teach us everything we need to know – from learning how to walk and talk, to how to interact with others and develop appropriate social skills … Or table manners. Often our early role models are responsible for inspiring our life long interests or passions.

In our professional lives, role models become mentors. History is littered with famous examples of successful mentor / mentee relationships – Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey, Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle and Joe Exotic. Mentors are experienced professionals who have trodden a path before us and can offer guidance, give feedback and impart the knowledge that comes from past experience.

The IAB Mentorship Program was started in 2019, and part of its purpose is “to better equip them [mentees] for the challenging career path they have embarked upon. “Given the times we find ourselves in, there has never been a more important initiative from IAB Australia than this one.COVID-19 and the ensuing downturn may result in our future leaders experiencing the first recession of their careers. Even though we are in uncharted territory, the same fundamental rules apply to business. Being distant should not spell the end for learning (quite the opposite in fact), so this program should continue in order to support and equip those leaders to be resilient in these tough times, and to take advantage of the upturn when it comes.

During my nine months as a mentor, I learned there are some ground rules that should be followed both by mentees and mentors. While these should be followed if at all possible, it is also important that the partnership is an organic and ever evolving one.

For mentees:

  • Similar isn’t always best – when thinking about a mentor to work with, don’t always lean toward the areas you currently excel in. Sometimes you will get more by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. If you are technical, maybe think commercial or soft skills, and vice versa.
  • Own the meeting – it is your responsibility to set an agenda and to give your mentor a good understanding of what you want to get out of the partnership.
  • Do the homework – quite often, your mentor may recommend reading material or events to attend (when we were able to in the good old days). Much like going to the physio for an injury, if you don’t do the exercises you’ve been given, you won’t see as much improvement. The hungrier you are to learn and grow, the more you will get from the program.

For mentors:

  • Listen – being part of this program is a privilege, not an opportunity to brag about your accomplishments. I have learned just as much, if not more, from my mentees than they have from me.
  • Prepare – if your mentee goes to the effort of sending you an agenda, ensure you read it and do the prep in advance. Come to the meeting with some ideas or questions ready to maximise productivity.
  • Treat the relationship like a partnership – as American entrepreneur Jim Rohn said “My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!'”. Go on the journey with your mentee.

My time spent in the IAB Mentorship Program has been one of the most rewarding periods of my professional career. I have met bright and resilient individuals who fill me with optimism about the future of our industry.

In these challenging times, the value of this program has never been clearer. If you qualify as a mentor or mentee I would recommend getting involved – the upsides for both parties are tremendous. To quote someone (not so) synonymous with mentorship, Phil Collins; “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

Valentina Lizzi – Lead Account Strategist ANZ, InMobi & IAB Mentee

Having moved from Europe to Australia a year ago and started a new job in a completely different market, it hasn’t been easy at all. I found myself dealing with the day-to-day challenges that a new life away from ‘home’ entailed, focusing on my career to understand what I want to do next and trying to create a new network from scratch. When I applied for the mentorship program I specifically asked to be matched with someone that knows what the challenge of moving to another country means, as I was looking for the guidance of a mentor who was genuinely able to ‘put himself/herself in my shoes’.

​The program started just a couple of months ago and I am already benefiting from it. I started this experience with a blank page, having in mind only a general idea of what my goals might look like. During the catch-ups with my mentor he guided me on how to set my goals for the next six months, build-out a career strategy and understand the skills I need to work on. Now I am finally able to see a plan rather than just a blank page.

From a mentee’s perspective, I am really appreciating the fact that I can open-up and listen to the honest opinion and point of view of someone with many more years of experience in our industry and is able to give me insights to address my opportunities and steer my career in the direction I want.

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.

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