Become a mentor – 12-week programme

Over the course of 12 weeks, this programme matches leaders from small and medium-sized businesses with expert mentors from some of the UK’s leading companies. You will be matched with an SME business leader to act as a sounding board for whatever challenges they may be facing.

Participation will help you build important leadership and management skills, gain new experiences and get fresh perspectives vital for your own professional development.

This choice is relevant if you...

  • Want to give something back to the business community
  • Are looking to advance your leadership skills
  • Would like to gain new business insights and perspectives from outside your sector
  • See value in joining a national network of like-minded business leaders

How it works

  • SME business leaders join the programme from across the UK
  • A rigorous matching process is conducted to ensure the right compatibility
  • You’ll meet regularly to discuss their business challenges and provide a sounding board
  • Access to online resources and support will help your make your connection a success

Mentor do's

  • Commit at least one interaction/hour of support per week
  • Set aside time for the mentoring process and honour all appointments
  • Schedule meetings with topics for discussion planned in advance
  • Be flexible on meeting times and places. You are both busy people
  • Feel free to arrange additional contacts through telephone, email, etc
  • Keep information that your mentee has shared with you confidential
  • Establish open, honest and respectful communication
  • Encourage open idea exchange and innovative thinking
  • Provide honest and timely feedback to your mentee
  • Provide opportunities for the mentee to talk about business challenges
  • Above all, listen

Mentor dont's

  • Think you need to be an expert on everything, and try to give advice on everything
  • Worry if you don’t have all the answers – this is a process of collaboration and dialogue
  • Be afraid to say no – if you are unable to assist with something or feel you are being asked to do something that is beyond the role of a mentor
  • Make commitments that you can’t deliver on
  • Criticise

Frequently asked questions

Mentors are expected to provide their mentee with a minimum of one hour of support and interaction per week. Most of this interaction will take place via remote meeting software or face-to-face, as appropriate. When COVID measures allow, we recommend site visits, which previous mentoring pairs have found extremely useful. These meetings can be supplemented with other web-related tools (for example, instant messaging). Mentors should work with their mentee to determine what kind of support will be most useful, how regularly both mentor and mentee would like to interact, and any other logistical details to build a fruitful relationship for both parties. 

We ask our mentors to make commitments of at least 12 weeks. This is in order to ensure that you have time to understand the mentee’s business context and for you both to collaborate on meaningful longer-term plans. If a mentor, for some reason, feels they must leave the relationship early, we request that the mentor notify the programme administrators as soon as possible to allow time to identify a replacement mentor with a similar background. 

No. Be the Business has structured this programme, the matching process and related agreements to ensure that neither you nor your company are exposed to any potential risk. We also ask that mentors adopt a prudent approach to the relationship. For example, it is not appropriate for mentors to engage in any business transactions with their mentees. Instead, the relationship should only involve the flow of general information and advice. 

Our mentees have a range of business challenges and leadership support needs and so we need mentors with a broad range of business and leadership experience. We expect our mentors will have practical leadership experience over a minimum of 10 years with at least five years managing teams or functions at a senior level either within a leading firm or as a leader of a small business themselves. They have managed people and teams with broad experience across multiple areas, and managed organisational change and challenges. They are decision makers and communicators. 

First, complete your profile to help the team understand your skills and experience. Then familiarise yourself with the platform and support available over your first couple of days. Our intelligent system will then match you with a suitable mentee based on their challenges and skills support needs. You will be matched a few days after joining us, provided we have someone needing the support you are able to provide. You will also see that we ask you about your preferences. Whilst matching is based on skills and experience, if there are multiple possible matches, we will try to take preferences into account.  

In our experience, and the experience of previous mentors and mentees on this programme, sector should not play a part in choosing a mentor. A mentor from another sector brings a fresh perspective that is beneficial to your mentee allowing, you both to focus on the fundamentals of your mentee’s challenge and goals.  

A good match depends on skills, experience and chemistry. We encourage our mentors and mentees to set a first meeting and get to know each other. If, after the first meeting, you decide that the chemistry is not right between you, then let us know and an alternative match will be made.    

Mentoring is not a prescriptive process. Each relationship will vary in the schedule and approach to sessions. The mentoring relationship is driven by the goals that the mentee sets. We provide tools to support you as you contract and set goals for the relationship, as well as a Connection plan - which is your route map to your mentoring journey. Use this connection plan, together with the guidance we provide, to conduct your mentoring in a way that suits you.   

A relationship that is not working is not valuable to you or your mentee. We encourage letting the mentee know about the situation and contacting a programme administrator as soon as possible. We will provide our full support to resolve the situation in a positive and satisfactory manner. 

Alison Ballard

Director, BAE Systems

“Mentoring doesn’t have to involve a major time commitment on either side. Even an hour a month is really valuable for both mentor and mentee – it’s a two-way learning experience”

Start improving your leadership and management skills today by becoming a mentor

Become a mentor