Rise up and be counted | Rise Mentoring Programme: What, Why & How

By Alexia El Merhebi, Digital Communications and Events Executive

April 2020 - I got the Job!

It was impossible to see the impact Covid would have when I started my job at Calrec in April 2020.

Starting a new job in a new industry is always difficult but starting a new job in the middle of the first Covid lockdown meant I didn’t get an opportunity to experience what it was really like to work for Calrec, or what it was like to work in the broadcast audio industry.

Everyone was working from home; events were cancelled, and it was very difficult to visit customers – and that’s still largely the case! This has led to a definite feeling of disconnection from the industry, making it harder to build any extended network outside of the organisation.

It has been especially difficult to implement marketing strategies that resonate with customers when you are unable to get out and meet any of them! Social media, webinars, podcasts and speaking to the team at Calrec have helped in understanding customer requirements, but nothing beats visiting customers in their own environment.

April 2020 - I got the Job!

How I discovered Rise Mentoring

I first heard about Rise from my Marketing Director at Audiotonix, Calrec’s parent company. I then listened to a great podcast – The Job Interview with two very inspiring women who previously worked at Calrec – Amy Brennan, Studio Manager at BBC Radio 5 Live, and Lucy Harper, a former Music Technology student at the University of Huddersfield. They shared their fond memories of Calrec and Amy, also a former Rise mentee spoke highly of the Rise mentoring programme which like Calrec, helped her on to the next step in her career.

When I saw the mentoring scheme was asking for applicants, I decided to apply with the support of Calrec, who encouraged me to apply for the programme. I hoped that the Rise mentoring programme would not only enable me to further my knowledge of the industry but also provide an opportunity to meet, network and connect with other industry professionals.

How I discovered Rise Mentoring

What the Rise Mentoring Programme is all about

I’m now five months into the programme and the Rise mentoring scheme is everything I thought it would be and more. I am so very thankful for this opportunity and can already see the impact it has had on me. I guess the real question will be – are these changes noticeable to others? Only time will tell!

One of the things Rise provided very quickly was exposure to a supportive wider industry network. There seemed to be a common theme within this year’s cohort of feeling disconnected, self-critical, and uncertain about the future caused by Covid, so knowing so many others felt the same was very reassuring.

The Rise mentoring scheme does two main things; it puts you in touch with people in similar circumstances – the mentees – and it matches you with a mentor for one-to-one work. Initially, there was an online meeting with all the mentees so that we could get to know each other and find out each other’s expectations.

This led to a series of structured training workshops with industry specialists which were focused on highlighting key skills to develop, including how to promote yourself. A marketing specialist who is not comfortable with promoting herself may sound strange, but I’ve always worked behind the scenes to promote brands with the focus on my employer and other members of staff, never with me being front and centre. It suddenly dawned on me that apart from my training, I had never spent any real-time promoting myself. Being on the Rise mentoring programme has not only taken me out of my comfort zone, it has also made me dedicate more time to my professional development and career goals and helped me to identify the skills I have and the skills I want to improve.

What the Rise Mentoring Programme is all about

Outside of the training, working directly with a mentor brings a lot of things into clearer focus.

My amazing mentor is Helen Weedon, Director at Radical Moves PR. Having a mentor who works in marketing within the broadcast industry has been invaluable. Helen has been an impartial outsider, who has helped steer me on the right path, helping to identify areas I hadn’t even thought about.

Rise has forced me to dedicate time to think about where I want it to go and what I need to do to get there. Helen has really helped with this, and the other mentees have provided an extended network which has been impossible to build during Covid.

Rise are empowering and equipping women with the skills needed to get to where they want to go. Like with all good things, the course must come to an end – but those networks will continue to grow.

Even in 2021, there is still a small minority of diverse female leaders in our industry, and I’m honestly not used to having so few female colleagues!

Hopefully, this will change with the help of organisations like Rise, who are transforming perceptions by empowering and supporting career and personal development.

Thanks a Million

Thanks to Calrec and Rise; especially my boss Kevin, my mentor Helen, Mentoring Programme Manager Nic and all the mentees and speakers for their expertise and support.

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