Loretta Smith is Head of HR & Shared Services at Pladis Global (McVities to you and me). Here she shares her Big Sister experience.
Becoming a Big Sister with Girls Out Loud is one of the best decisions that I’ve made, for lots of reasons. Knowing that I’ve made a difference to a teenage girl’s life is the most important part for me, but the role has also given me the chance to grow on a personal level.
The Big Sister Programme has given me the opportunity to work in an environment that is worlds apart from my day job but I think that’s what makes it even more worthwhile. I wouldn’t have discovered myself in the way that I have without becoming a mentor.
I’m not going to lie… it’s quite scary! The Girls Out Loud team are amazing at coaching you, making sure that you are fully prepared for the programme and they’re there to guide you every single step of the way. However, no one can predict exactly what a teenage girl is going to open up to you about and that’s the bit that I found most daunting. Looking back, I realise that I had nothing to worry about. The more time that I spent with my amazing Little Sister, the more comfortable and confident I became in guiding her.
Another great thing about becoming a mentor? It benefits your career and the company that you work for as well. The confidence and the skills that you develop in a mentoring role are invaluable and can be transferred to your everyday working life. Whichever profession you work in, it’s always worth talking to your employer about any mentoring opportunities that are available. I’m sure that they’ll see the benefits in it for themselves as well as your mentee.
Being a Big Sister has made me realise how important it is to learn from those around you and to share your experiences with one another. After all, if we want the next generation’s workforce to showcase strong female leaders, we need to do it together as a team. I was able to support and guide my Little Sister whilst unbeknownst to her, she was also encouraging and inspiring me. That’s when I realised, if I want to inspire the next generation, I need to make sure that I inspire myself! So, from now on, I’m going to make sure to dedicate time to understanding and learning about myself so that I can offer the best advice and be the best example that I can possibly be to those around me. But, hey, nobody’s perfect and that’s the best part about mentoring, it’s the chance to improve yourself as well as helping your mentee.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the leap into the unknown and become a Big Sister. Be proud of the experience and knowledge that you have to offer and embrace any worries or nerves that you might have. I promise you, it’s one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things that I’ve taken part in!