Why become an ICRS Mentor? Insights from Susan Cain

I’ve been an ICRS Mentor since June 2016 and wholly recommend it. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to use one’s skills and experience to help someone else. Not only that but the process has taught me a lot, too.

Why become an ICRS mentor: 

Help and support

The ICRS provides great guidance material and carefully matches suitable mentors and mentees from different organisations.

If you are worried about the time commitment, it is very manageable – I spend about 90 minutes each month but you can flex the commitment depending on availability, and the help that your mentee needs.

Impartial guidance

Mentoring someone from a different organisation (as opposed to a colleague), means you can focus fully on helping them achieve their goal with no organisational barriers (or office politics!) getting in the way. 

For example, you might spend time exploring how your mentee can fulfil their own career goals through formal training, preparing for promotion conversations, or even switching roles/organisation. As an impartial mentor you can guide your mentee to explore all the options.

Sole CR person

In previous roles I had a team and direct reports; I enjoyed managing, and helping my reports develop their careers. When I switched to a full time CR role I became a team of one – for me, the only downside of the job. 

Mentoring enables me to tap into that area of work and use those skills and experience once again.  It gives me a sense of fulfilment.

But… It doesn’t always work out – and that’s OK

Earlier in my career, the HR Director in the company I was working for felt I wasn’t being recognised by the Board for the good work I was doing. They offered to mentor me in order to help raise my profile and get the recognition I deserved.  It was a disaster.

Despite getting on well, it turned out that our working styles were wholly different and I fundamentally disagreed with her suggested changes. The mentoring relationship ended pretty quickly.  We still managed to remain friends, I made sure of that… I had no desire to fall out with the HR Director! 

Recognising when a mentoring relationship isn’t working and moving on is not a failure.

But don't just take it from me

Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs (Apple) and shared the following thoughts on mentoring and being mentored.

"A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else.”

“When the spirit of reciprocity prevails, both can gain from the exchange.”

Eloise Sochanik – my current ICRS mentee:

Feedback on first mentoring meeting: “Thank you so much for your time today.  It's lovely to have the chance to chat in depth with someone who really knows what my job is - that doesn't happen very often!  Following our first meeting, I've just walked across the City with my head buzzing with thoughts. Amazingly powerful.”

 “…I’ve already gained so much from the experience of really talking about what I want – with someone who knows how I can start working towards it.”

Karina Konz – my first ICRS mentee:

"Mentoring shapes how individuals grow, and how professions develop. For a junior person in a dynamic field like sustainability, the insight experienced colleagues bring is invaluable. Susan, my ICRS mentor, helped me identify my strengths, articulate my goals, and come up with ways to bring the two together. I’m now more confident in my career, and looking forward one day to becoming a mentor myself."

Last Words

ICRS needs more Mentors.  If you are considering signing up – go for it.


ICRS Associates, Members and Fellows can sign up to be a Mentor. Click here if you would like to register or visit our Mentoring Programme and Mentoring Guidelines pages for more information. 

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