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Despite offering a range of mentoring schemes for its researchers, the Doctoral College doesn’t quite get the PGR uptake it should. We recently asked our mentees to reflect on what they thought could be done to improve the promotion and marketing of these schemes. Surrey PGR David P. Harvey reflects on this through his positive experiences of the Transitions Mentoring programme:
It has occurred to me that individuals might not opt for Mentoring because they view it as for those who start in a position of vulnerability and need improving. Similar to asking for help, people might not be comfortable with this idea. I recently read ‘Trillion Dollar Coach’ by Eric Schmidt (former Google CEO) whom explained that even as Google CEO he had a mentor (Bill Campbell). Someone who he was able to discuss ideas with, get back a different opinion or agree with an idea. It’s worth noting that Bill Campbell was also the mentor to Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Sundar Pinchia and Sheryl Sandberg (combined company worth >$1 trillion). Reading this book taught me that having a mentor is about taking what is already great about you and improving on it. Not viewing it as helping/counselling someone, but coaching them.
People sign up for mentoring for a variety of reasons, but I wonder if shifting towards this notion might be more appropriate for PGR mentoring. Messi has a coach. Tim Cook has a coach. Elon Musk has a coach. All of these people have outperformed in their respective fields. Why do PhD students feel they don’t need a coach?
This is certainly what my PGR mentor has been doing with me this year. Coaching me into thinking, behaving and acting like a successful PhD student.
Bill Campbell passed away a few years back, but his ability to coach in business has clearly started a revolution as a quick google check and a lot of successful CEO’s all now have a coach of some form.
(P.s. Trillion Dollar Coach is a great book if you are interested in business and want a book for a holiday.)