By Andrew Somerville
For Lone Clowes, Regional Director for the Nordics in Ramboll Environment and Health, mentoring has been invaluable. “I am one of those people who has always appreciated good advice and someone to talk to during my career,” she says.
Lone has been fortunate to be both mentor and mentee. In fact, her first mentor was Ramboll CEO, Jens-Peter Saul.
“Perhaps you wouldn’t call it the normal mentor-mentee relationship!” she smiles. “Of course, there was a little hierarchy - but I actually think that he created an informal and confidential atmosphere where he pushed me, helping me to find out what I wanted to do and how to get there.”
Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions
Successful mentoring is based on establishing a relationship of mutual trust.
“Mentoring provides a degree of trust and confidentiality,” says Lone. “It lets you create a space where you can ask stupid questions even though you may have been in the game for many years. If you have a true mentor-mentee relationship, and you’re matched pretty well, then it is very beneficial.”
This neutral space also provides the possibility of discussing a broad range of topics honestly and from another perspective. “Mentoring allows you to bring different things to the table. This is a big advantage and because both parties have agreed to the mentor-mentee relationship, then it is okay – it’s another forum,” she says.
The mentoring relationship also encourages an honest approach “by having the opportunity to bring something of importance into the room and saying, ‘I really would like your honest opinion of this’, as well having mentors telling what you don’t want to hear,” she explains.
Lone hopes her positive experiences as a mentee can be put to good use in her new role as mentor for colleague Liv Nyholm Vaag from another Ramboll business unit.
“This is the first time I have tried it from the other side,” she says. “Liv is from a totally different setting, Ramboll Management Consulting, so we can talk about more topics across the board rather than the nitty-gritty. But ultimately, I think the mentor-mentee relationship is about both using time and effort in putting subjects on the table that are good to discuss. It is a two-way street.”
Mentee Liv points out that there are also advantages of having an experienced mentor.
“Mentoring is a great opportunity to talk to and get career insights from a person you look up to both professionally and personally”, she says. “At the same time, I can discuss my career goals and issues more openly with a person who has been through the same stages of their career that I am in now.”