Award-winning mentor shares his perspective

Tom Wallbank
Do you have a mentor? Could you be a mentor? Tom Wallbank, RICS Matrics Mentor of the Year, explains why mentoring is high on his agenda.

I was humbled and delighted to be named Mentor of the Year at the recent RICS Matrics Awards 2017. As someone who has benefited both from having a mentor and subsequently mentoring others, I value the role and want to promote the advantages to others.

My own mentoring journey began in the early stages of my career when I had support from a number of inspirational mentors. Their guidance, mirrored by my ambitions and appetite to learn, positively assisted my introduction to the industry and my subsequent career progression.

At the time, being mentored helped me develop the skills needed to do my job and become chartered. In addition, my softer skills and non-technical aspects of my role were refined, such as my approach to networking, business development and client engagement, along with a conscious focus on self-presentation and building my personal brand. I also became a more loyal and engaged team member, thanks to my mentor’s input and direction.

Today I’m a Regional Director at Faithful+Gould, based in the Nottingham office, and I lead a team of 22 quantity surveyors. I want to inspire and motivate my staff, facilitating them to be the best versions of themselves. For those early in their careers, I’m keen to help identify their strengths as well as cover any gaps in experience.

Acting as a mentor for members of my team is an integral part of my job—just as important as my work with clients.

Whilst those early in their careers are a key focus group for mentoring, anyone can benefit from having a mentor, so long as they are willing and open to the concept. I try to spend quality time with all my staff, but I would never force mentoring on anyone. I want my guidance to be individually triggered, as well as individually tailored, as people have very different needs. No one needs to do everything their mentor suggests; just cherry pick what’s most useful to their own development needs.

I try to get to know my staff as well as I can, and allow them to get to know me. It’s about providing encouragement and opportunities.

I think about their progress and how we can create space for them to rise in the organisation—it makes sense to promote from within. I’m delighted that this happened six times last year within our team, with further progressions planned this year.

For our trainees, I offer monthly group sessions where they take it in turns to act as chair, getting experience in agenda setting and management of meetings. A trainee gives a presentation at each session, building their confidence in a safe and supportive environment. I encourage them to shadow colleagues on projects, accompanying them to meetings whenever possible, as I did myself when starting out.

They also have the opportunity to improve their self-presentation, review their technical skills, and develop their writing skills. Much of this will be aligned with their RICS progression.

The RICS APC pathway provides candidates with a supervisor and a counsellor. The counsellor is effectively a mentor as well as ensuring the candidate gains the required range and depth of experience and training. I fulfil this formal role for many of our staff. For anyone interested in becoming an APC counsellor, RICS provides useful training and guidance for the role.

At Faithful+Gould, we offer mentoring to any staff member who wants it, so be sure to ask if you don’t currently have a mentor and would like one. If you’re more experienced, have you thought of becoming a mentor? It’s a rewarding and privileged role—you’re investing in the future of others, contributing to your profession, and, as a bonus, it’s also excellent for your own continuing self-development and leadership skills. I highly recommend getting involved and reaping the rewards it brings.

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