Speed Mentoring: The Power of Lifting Each Other Up

As part of our DevelopHer 2025 mission, our aim is to spotlight and connect over 1,000 women in tech members to help lift each other up. That’s why this summer, we hosted our Speed Mentoring event for 60 of our community members at SYZYGY, to give our members the opportunity to find that connection and support mechanism to help each other. To encourage more women to reach the top, we truly believe in the power of mentoring and how providing a step up is vital in achieving your career goals. We wanted to share with you the highlights of our speed mentoring event below.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a support system where one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers.  The power of mentoring is more than ‘giving advice’, it’s about motivating and empowering the other person to identify their own issues and goals and help them to find ways of resolving or reaching them. As part mentoring, it includes respecting the different ways of working.

Mentoring tends to include 3 key elements: 

  • Career development
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Helping to improve performance. 

What is Speed Mentoring?

Speed mentoring is a series of short, focused conversations about specific questions. You will meet with a limited number of mentors in 15‐minute time slots each.  At the start and end of each Speed Mentoring round, a bell will ring. Mentees will then move on to the next mentor, and will be giving two minutes to switch and prepare for the next round. 

Challenging Your Limiting Beliefs:

Our event kicked off with a keynote from the CEO of SYZYGY, Ita Murphy sharing her insights on applying neuroscience principles to business and career coaching.

Ita emphasised on how we can challenge the assumptions your brain makes. She focused on how we can all have a little voice in our head, our limiting beliefs that say nasty things to ourselves that can pull us down. Ita nicely quoted “Your thoughts become your reality…so be careful what you think, because your brain is listening”. During this keynote, we learnt the importance on how to manage our thoughts, choices and emotions.

The Power of Lifting Each Other Up

During the event, each mentee had the opportunity to have up to 4-6 speed mentoring sessions with our 2019 DevelopHer Mentors. During the sessions, we asked our mentees to come prepared so they can get the most out of their 15 minute mentoring session

Following the event, we asked our community what they thought:

  • 83% of our mentees were very satisfied with the speed mentoring event
  • 75% of our mentees felt more confident with progressing their next career step or personal goal
  • 75% of our mentees are likely to recommend mentoring as a means to improve their career as person in tech/digital
  • 66% of our mentees found the event very useful
  • 66% of our mentees believe the event helped identified how to further progress their career goals
  • 83% of our mentees were likely to recommend DevelopHer as an organisation that helps develop careers

Our mentees also shared their feedback of the night: 

“It was a really helpful experience, I’ve never attended one like it before. The staff were lovely and I felt really welcomed by everyone. I look forward to more of your events. If you are considering, then just do it. To be in a room filled with people who have amazing stories and are willing to share them with you, to be your sound board and to meet new people also going through similar experiences then take the opportunity by both hands!”

“Absolutely go. It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to be in a room filled with 24 amazingly inspiration & bad-ass women who are all willing to give you tips & advice on your career. I learnt something unique from every single woman I talked to, and left feeling motivated, confident & with actionable tips about where I want to go with my career. “

“An amazing opportunity to meet a wide variety of mentors, gain immediate advice, and start to build longer-term relationships for the future”

“DevelopHer’s speed mentoring sessions are really not to missed (if you are lucky enough to get through) because mingling and being mentored by the high calibre of mentors that attend the event will, without a doubt, give you lots of takeaways and inspiration for reaching or re-evaluating your career goals or challenges. It was absolutely invaluable to meet such highly accomplished individuals in roles I aspire to have in the future and have their undivided attention, even for just a brief time, because they all really took time to listen, share advice and be honest about their own experiences. The venue and keynote speaker was also terrific, providing the perfect setting to get into the mentoring spirit and everyone, from the organisers, to the hosts, mentors and mentees, were all so approachable and friendly which made it all the more enjoyable. I would 100% recommend these events to anyone looking for mentorship.”

A Big Thank You

We just want to say a huge thanks to the following support for letting our community get together:

  • Thank you to SYZYGY and all the organising team, for always being a fantastic partner and hosting the most wonderful venue (the rooftop was a dream!).
  • Thank you Ita Murphy, CEO of SYZYGY for providing the key note speaker session
  • Thank you to all of our 2019 mentors for giving up your time and giving something back to our community
  • Thank you to all of our mentees for taking the time to apply as well as opening up and letting yourself be seen in these sessions
  • Thank you to our DevelopHer team & associates for helping to get this event together.

If you’re interested in taking part or applying for future mentoring opportunities please sign up to our newsletter.

If you’d like to be a speaker or mentor, you can sign up to our DevelopHer speaker list here.

Written by Laura Chung, DevelopHer Co-Founder

How to get the most from mentoring

The right mentor can provide valuable advice and experience based tips that can help a mentee reach heights that would have been impossible alone. However mentorship requires investment of time and energy from both the mentees and mentors; so what you get is only as valuable as what you put in.

To help our mentees attending on the night and any community members looking to make the most of the mentoring experience they embark on, we’ve put together some of DevelopHer’s top tips for a great mentoring session.

1. Be prepared and come asking the right questions

Actively shape the conversations to your potential mentor on the outcomes you want to achieve.

Too often, mentees know they want a mentorship but don’t know what they want out of it. During a speed mentoring, you’re limited on time – so you need to figure out what to focus on before the event or session. You’ll also build a more gratifying relationship with the mentor, when you’re thoughtfully prepared for advice.

Before you come to your mentoring session, do some prep work and come up with 5 guiding questions, based on what you want to accomplish to ask your mentor.

In order to focus on what types of questions consider the following before the session:

  • Consider what your short-term & long-term goals are to discuss with your mentor
  • Figure out what successful outcomes of mentoring will look like for you
  • Figure out the top 2-3 things you want to be able to address during the session
  • What are the challenges you are facing in your role? What stops you from doing this?
  • Are you considering a career transition – what do you think are the pros and cons?
  • What are the options/choices have you been thinking of?

One you know the outcomes you want to achieve from your session, figure out how you want to frame the questions based on what you want to achieve.

Below are example areas of how you could frame your conversation:

  • Stories – Consider if you want to ask your mentor a story from his or her career that will help you with your career.
    E.g. How did you land a role?
    Can you tell me when you have a difficult boss, how did you handle it?
    What’s the most important leadership lessons you’ve learnt & how is it valuable?

  • Situational  – Identify a challenging situation and share it with your mentor. Ask your mentor to act as a sounding board
    E.g. What advice can you offer on how I approach entering a leadership role? What should I consider if i’ve never had experience on leading a team?
    When trying to gain buy-in to implement a new program, what tactics have worked for you?

  • Skill-building – identify a skill you currently want to develop, and ask your mentor for advice or resources.
    E.g. How do you approach risk-taking?
    How can i become a more assertive negotiator?

2. Be curious and open to who you’re being mentored by.

The best mentors are the ones who can fill gaps in your skillset. You don’t have to seek a mentor who’s your clone.

During the Speed Mentoring, you’ll have access to approach directly to different types of mentors from different backgrounds / industries. And whilst mentors are a great way to help make your strengths even stronger, it’s also valuable to have someone who can give advice in areas where you’re struggling.

Consider speaking and approaching mentors that may also have different roles or background to you. These mentors can give valuable insight into a skill or situation that you may not have considered, plus may have also gone through similar experiences but in a different context. Each mentor may provide a different perspective – that can give you new ways of thinking.

3. You don’t always have to follow a mentor’s advice – but listen to it and evaluate it.

The role of a mentor is there to help you reflect, not to give you the answers.

Mentors can provide advice, perspective and make you think differently – but they will not make decisions for you. In this speed mentoring, carefully listen and considered the perspective, personal experiences or tips your mentors give you, then make sure you take the time to evaluate how you approach the situation yourself and if you think it’s appropriate to apply the advice. Constructive criticism may not always be easy to take in – know that you are learning, try to respect your mentor’s opinions and consider everything they say carefully.

Remember to bring a pen and notepad to take notes down. As speed mentoring sessions are short, write the advice down and come back to it later when you have the time to consider or evaluate the advice given to you.

4. Be grateful and keep in touch

Mentors are taking the time to help you under the goodness of their hearts.

Mentors don’t owe you anything, but they are taking the time, energy and investment to help others. It’s important to be grateful for the advice they give, and especially after you’ve found success.

Whilst DevelopHer can help provide you the opportunity for connections, you as a mentee are ultimately responsible for ensuring you keep the relationship going if you want to. Not all mentors during a speed mentoring session will have the time  to mentor you going forward, but some may certainly be open to it.

If you feel you found an authentic connection with a mentor you meet, ensure you follow up:

  1. Bring your business cards
  2. Ask for their business cards
  3. Add them on LinkedIn
  4. Follow up with a thank you email or note – sharing the key learnings & summarise the key actions you’re going to take
  5. If they’re available and willing, try and ask for a follow up session
  6. Or if the tips/advice they shared with you, worked for you. Don’t be afraid to send a follow up email thanking them and how you’ve found success.

See the list of our 2019 Speed Mentoring Mentors here.

Written by Laura Chung, DevelopHer Co-Founder

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes at DevelopHer over the past few weeks. We are building a new website, planning our launch party, autumn events, and continuing to build on our partnerships with some awesome UK and European initiatives.

We are committed to elevating women in technology and to pursue our mission of supporting women in professional, personal and political opportunities we’d like to expand our network. As firm fans of collaboration within the community we’ve grown great relationships with a number of organisations including Geek Girl Meetup, Blooming Founders, and Women Who Code and want to continue to seek out and partner with other organisations with similar values.

If you know of any other groups, initiatives or organisations you think we should get to know or events we should share, please put us in touch via developHer.org@gmail.com .

One of our newest partnerships is with SyncDevelopHER, an East Anglian initiative committed to promoting gender equality in technology. The awesome organisation is behind the DevelopHER Awards; showcasing the East Anglian technology industry’s leading female talent. The next Awards are in Ipswich on 30th November 2016 and tickets are available now . We’re excited to be working together with them and hope to partner on bringing their East Anglian based event to London in the near future.

Coming up we invite you to join us on 20th September at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society as we collaborate with WOW Talks bringing our mentoring experience to  WOW Talks:Women In Tech. Please use code developherwow2016 for £10 off.

As ever, to stay in the know for all things DevelopHer including our launch party please keep an eye on twitter and subscribe to our mailing list HERE.

Team DevelopHer