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Security Mentoring: Leveraging Personal Experience to Benefit Others

16 June 2020

PARTICIPATING IN a mentoring relationship can be greatly beneficial for an individual’s professional development, whether that be as a mentor or mentee. There’s a good deal to be gained from having a trusted mentor at all stages of the professional journey. Equally so, mentors can also grow and learn through a mentoring relationship. Here, in this exclusive thought leadership article for Security Matters, Angela Vernon-Lawson examines her own mentoring journey involving The Security Institute.

On a personal level, I’m a big advocate of mentoring. This is something I have done for 20-plus years and have continued to do since joining The Security Institute’s own Mentoring Programme which was launched in early 2018.

I have extensive experience in security, education, management and leadership, which compliments my pro bono role as director of education on behalf of The Security Institute. My experience is an asset that I can share and, more importantly, it’s one that I’m willing to share with the broader security community as a mentor. On average, I engage with between five and seven mentees in addition to speaking with young people presently considering their career options within the private security sector.

Why do I mentor others? The answer is simple. I enjoy being part of a personal and or professional journey. Mentoring creates the opportunity to share knowledge and experience and offer guidance to enhance someone else’s future which is a great privilege. Through The Security Institute's mentoring programme, I’ve assisted mentees to return to the workplace, change careers, identify transferable skills, improve their confidence levels, move into a leadership or management position or take on some studying.

Mentoring has proven to be particularly useful for those transitioning from a military or police service career into the private sector.

Joining the dots

I have learned to progress at the pace of the mentee and to listen carefully to what is said, while always having the ability to recognise when information is not forthcoming. A mentor joins the dots and identifies opportunities to enhance the experience.

For example, one of my mentees is Maitseo Pelaelo MSyI who joined The Security Institute in January 2018 and quickly discovered the benefits of participating in a mentoring/mentee relationship. Maitseo was seeking a mentor for career guidance and assistance to prepare for a promotion opportunity at work. Through the mentoring programme, I was able to offer Maitseo advice based on my years of industry experience and to assist with professional connections to support his personal and professional journey from within my network.

Speaking about our mentoring relationship, Maitseo has stated: “The mentorship programme exceeded my expectations. In three months, I achieved my objective of gaining promotion at work. As if this was not enough, the mentorship programme resulted in me building an international relationship between my employer (CAAB) and another organisation (CAA). This is something I did not see coming. I continue to engage with Angela as a colleague outside of the mentorship programme. This is a positive indicator of a successful professional relationship.”

Patience and confidentiality

The thought of mentoring can be pretty daunting, particularly so given that one is opening up to someone they may or may not know which, in turn, could create a vulnerability. The process certainly requires patience to complete the journey at the pace of the mentee. Confidentiality is also essential when it comes to building trust. Why? Well, a mentor may become privy to very private issues or ambitions. We all have those and many of us will guard them closely.

During these challenging times, security professionals are dealing with unprecedented circumstances that have been created by COVID-19. A host of new challenges have been created and we need to work through them. Now more than ever, having the support of a mentor can be invaluable.

Angela Vernon-Lawson JP MSc FSyI SFHEA is Consultant Analyst on Performance Improvement at Lawson Associates and Non-Executive Director at The Security Institute