Eternal youth has long been an obsession of the world. We smear creams and go under the knife in an effort to grip onto that youthful sensation. Youth offers us a fresh perspective, a new way of thinking and is the foundation from which we grow and evolve. It therefore seems absurd that businesses wouldn't also want to learn from the next generation, but this is the problem a lot of companies face. One solution to this is a reverse mentoring programme where under 25 year-olds coach the more experienced professionals. It may sound a little backwards but can your business really move forward without looking back?
In it’s infancy in Jersey, Charlotte Valeur introduced the global U25 Mentoring scheme to the Island with co-founder Jonathan Channing after experiencing impressive results in other countries. She first heard of U25 mentoring in her home of Norway when she attended a conference by Google’s Head of Innovation. “He asked the room who had an U25 mentoring their business and when the room became silent he asked why on earth not?!” An experienced board member herself, she is a great believer in diversity on boards in order to create a successful and lasting business. “In order to communicate effectively you need a mixture of men/women, old and young.” The U25 Mentoring scheme looks to bridge the gap between young people and experienced politicians, board members and senior executives, sharing knowledge between the generations.
As a mother of three and having worked with two U25 mentors herself, Charlotte is an advocate of the programme and believes it will help develop the leaders of tomorrow. “It is important to understand from where the young are influenced in order to tap into this market.” Her mentors have gone on to land successful jobs in London and both credit the scheme for helping them achieve their goals. The programme allows the mentors the chance to build confidence in talking to older and more experienced people and to learn the tools by which they can effectively communicate. For the mentee, they get an insight into how the younger generation think to inform how their business can connect and evolve.
The relationship is led by the mentor with the guidance and oversight from the scheme organisers. Goals are set at an initial meeting and then the two meet for one hour each month over a period of a year to build upon the relationship. It is not limited to matching people purely from Jersey and can provide firms with an opportunity to target specific mentors depending on their market and where they feel they need to improve relations.
So what is there to lose? Actually quite a lot if you get it wrong. Adopt the wrong business strategy or ignore the effect of social media and advancement in technology on your business and you could sink under in less than five years. Charlotte’s favourite case study is that of Blockbusters movie rentals. “Do you think if they had had a young mentor they would have made that decision not to move online?”
Social media, vloggers, YouTubers - these are terms of communication that come naturally to the older generation but for those that have grown up alongside it, it is second nature. Through the U25 mentoring scheme we are able to connect with the younger generation and learn what it means to stay relevant from a business perspective. You are never too old to learn, I’m only sad that I am too old to be an U25 mentor!
Find out more about the U25 Mentoring scheme here.