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Support and infrastructure


While many organisations choose to set up formal mentoring programmes, not all of them choose to provide the necessary support and infrastructure to make them truly successful and sustainable. One that has is the Design Business Association (DBA) – the trade association for design in the UK. For the past 30 years it has been


championing effective design and building a bridge between designers and business. Supporting a com- munity of more than 500 design agencies and design-led businesses as members, the DBA promotes professional excellence through productive partnerships between commerce and the design industry. In 2011, Sally Lukins, strategy


and development director, launched the DBA’s Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme. Having a clear purpose for any mentoring programme always provides the best opportunity for success and Lukins’ clarity for the aim of the scheme shone through from the start with her desire to “to tap into the wisdom and vision of the current leaders in the design industry, to inspire the next generation to make more informed decisions about their busi- nesses, their people and themselves”. Now approaching its seventh


year, the mentoring has gone from strength to strength. In January 2017, the seventh and largest cohort of the DBA's Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme was launched with support from mentoring experts. It’s a great op- portunity to reflect on what has made this membership association mentoring scheme such a huge success, and what plans the DBA might have to keep it on course to celebrate the tenth Twen- ty/ Twenty mentoring cohort in 2020. Te programme was originally set up with the support of the Arts Council England Cultural Leadership Programme and continues to be funded through a one-off fee which mentees pay to join the scheme. Te DBA has been highly successful in its recruitment of mentors who are drawn from member agencies such as Landor, Elmwood, Lippincott, Dragon Rouge, Smith & Milton and Brand Union. Tese mentors include many of the


leading lights of the design industry and all of them bring a huge amount


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of experience to the table, great dollops of goodwill and a desire to give something back to the industry that many of them have helped to shape. Mentors speak of recognising the


same challenges in their mentees that they themselves face, and acknowledge that mentoring offers a way to help both their mentee and themselves be better at what they do: “Tere is value in what I know


and I really enjoy sharing, and supporting someone else with, that knowledge.” Mentor


“I now work differently and work much ❝


more with the people in the business and try and understand their motivation, values and aspirations as much as what the busi- ness needs. It’s become apparent to me that these things are intrinsically linked.” Mentor


Improved ongoing support for all participants


Te programme began with a launch and one midpoint face-to-face review, offered to all participants. Based on feedback from initial mentors and mentees, the DBA now offers all participants a full and ongoing support framework. Tis includes an initial interactive


skills workshop attended by mentees and mentors together, on-hand support with their first session, ‘booster calls’ at the quarter and three-quarter point and a face-to-face midpoint review six months into the programme. Tis increased support offering,


along with a LinkedIn DBA mentoring group, is helping to build an ever-increasing community of mentors and mentees.


Growing number of participants


Mentors include many of the leading lights of the design industry and all of them bring a huge amount of experience to the table


When the programme launched back


in 2011, a great deal of time and effort was given, using detailed profiles, to match each mentee with the most appro- priate and best-fitting mentor available.


Continued great matching for the mentoring pairs


Tis process has been very successful with nearly all participants agreeing how well they think they have been matched. And, as the programme has grown and matured, the DBA has continued to invest the same level of time and attention to matching, using a human approach. Head of programmes, Natasha


Papa, recently spent three days carefully selecting and matching next year’s mentoring pairs. Te areas that participants have recognised they feel are


particularly well matched include: ``


`` `` `` ``


Area of work and expertise. Vision of the mentee. Ambition.


Te relation of business size. Geography.


Over the six years of the programme, the DBA has now trained and supported more than 250 of its members to be either a mentor or mentee, and the scheme is growing. A significant number of mentors


continue in their role from one year to the next, not only taking on a new mentee in the new formal cohort, but often staying well connected to previous mentoring relationships. Tere are also previous DBA mentees who, having experienced the benefits of having a mentor on this scheme, have now taken on the role of mentor.


High value leads to continued relationships


Although the formal DBA mentoring programme runs for 12 months, many of the mentoring pairs choose to continue their relationship in an informal manner once the year is up. Asked why they have made this


choice, both mentees and mentors describe the benefit and value they gain from the experience.


Mentors comments include: “I have definitely added skills to my own CV through the process. Te group training sessions are so valuable, as they enable you to meet other mentors and address what is often, ironically, your own sense of isolation. I have also been using what I have learnt in


 | February 2017 | 35


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