Featured image of post #NewStarNovember - Being a mentor

#NewStarNovember - Being a mentor

Thank you to the ever wonderful Ben for the suggestion to blog. Check out #NewStarNovember for more blog posts.

Who was your mentor?

I have never had an official mentor but I am so very very grateful to all of the people who have helped, supported and inspired me throughout my career.

I feel so privileged to be able to reach out to so many wonderful people and ask questions and receive advice.

So Rob, Why do you mentor others?

I have always been willing to share everything that I know and have been doing so in various formats for many years now. I have officially mentored many people for presentations, through events such as New Stars of Data, Data (née SQL) Grillen, Data Minds, Data Scotland, as well as unofficially because they have asked me.

Why do I do this? because I enjoy it, because I believe that anyone can give a good presentation and because the more voices we have giving presentations the better that it is for us all.

What’s the best thing about mentoring?

So many things are fantastic about mentoring.

You learn so many things. Getting the opinions of different people or watching how others perform similar tasks to you almost always leads to you learning something new. Whether it is the subject they are talking about, or just the way that they use PowerPoint or VS Code, or even the way they have Windows set up there is always something to learn.

I also get such a warm fuzzy feeling from seeing people blossom as they gain confidence and realise that they can do a fantastic presentation and that it is a mainly a case of learning and practicing new skills.

I am super proud of the people that I have mentored who have continued to present and have since presented at international conferences.

I am also equally proud of those who have decided that it was not for them right now and are currently taking a break from presenting.

I am delighted to see people who deserve it, become MVPs, or get promoted or change jobs. I hope that maybe I had a little impact, although I tell everyone I mentor, they are doing all of the hard work I am just listening and commenting.

Doesn’t it take a lot of time?

There is, of course, a time element to being a mentor but I am always happy to give up a few hours each month to help and I am also careful that I don’t take on too much and over burden myself.

For me, being a mentor means giving guidance and setting goals and with a bit of careful planning you can be efficient about it.

What else have you learnt?

I have learnt that everyone is different and that, as a mentor, some of your tactics and procedures will not work for every person. As an example, I have learnt that some people like to have a script that they can use to memorise or to have as an aide whilst others are much happier just with key words.

I have learnt that time zones make it harder. If it is Sunday evening for me, it is Sunday morning on the west coast of the US. This can make it harder to find times that fit well for both parties.

What should I do?

If someone asks or suggests that you do a presentation or become a mentor then I say that you should give it a try. They believe in you and so do I. New Stars Of Data CFP are open and available for mentors as well as new speakers.

If this blog post makes you think “I would like to give this a go” at presenting or mentoring, then you can reach out to your local user group. You are a member of your local user group I hope? If not, you can find yours in the Azure Data Community.

Don’t want to speak in person the first time? You can sign up for New Stars Of Data and you will be presenting virtually on the 2023-05-12. They are also taking mentors for the speakers for this event.


I believe in you

You can do it.

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