At the Forces Employment Charity, we provide a specialist mentoring programme to empower Service leavers, veterans, and their families, as they take the next step in their career. With a range of insights and experiences from different industries, our mentors have volunteered their time to offer expert support and guidance.

Read on to hear from one of our mentors, Ben Howell, Director of Business Development at AdvantageGo. Discover more about Ben’s journey into mentorship and how he, or any of our mentors, could support you.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I arrived at the Forces Employment Charity after 23 years in the Army and eight years in the London speciality insurance market. When I was about to leave the Army in my early 40s, I found myself having experienced only two things: university and the Army. Yet here I am, having made a success of working in insurance. I thought, ‘If I can do it, anyone can. And I can help them.’

What motivated you to become a mentor for the Forces Employment Charity?

I’d served a few years on the Lloyd’s Military Network Committee but wanted to help individuals more closely rather than organise at a distance. I wanted to do this as part of a wider framework of veteran support, so the Forces Employment Charity seemed like the right place. In a sense, anyone who has led people has mentored informally already.

What aspects of mentoring do you enjoy the most?

Many people need to learn what great things they’re capable of. Sometimes, it needs someone else to help draw it out of them. When people leave the military, they often lack context about how their knowledge and skills can be applied in civilian life. Therefore, providing them with this context is very beneficial as it helps them put their skills and experience into perspective. This can lead to a realisation that they can succeed in their civilian careers, which is gratifying.

Also, more personally, mentoring others makes you more aware of your feelings and opinions, offering a self-reflective benefit for the mentor.

Describe your leadership style. How does it influence your approach to training and mentorship?

The leadership model that best resonated with me was the Situational Leadership model from Dr. Paul Hersey and Dr. Ken Blanchard. Broadly, it states, “…the most successful leaders are those who adapt their leadership style to the Performance Readiness level (ability and willingness) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence.” It directly affects how I mentor.

Mentoring is a personal business (from mentor to mentee and vice versa!). Hence, a mentor must tailor the approach and attitude to the mentee and their needs.

What qualities are essential for effective mentorship? How can mentors create a positive impact on their mentees’ growth?

It starts with being a good listener. Being honest is important, enough to call out when you might not be the best mentor for a mentee; honesty with them and yourself. One aspect of mentoring often overlooked is “challenge,” which involves tough questions and sensitive probing to tease out a person’s reasons and motivations. These are usually highly revealing and helpful. Finally, trust is an intensely personal endeavour, and people must feel safe with their mentor.

Beyond work, what are your interests? Please tell us about your hobbies and how they influence your mentoring style.

My partner and I play a lot of Backgammon, and she regularly and convincingly beats me. So, reflection on the analysis of her game and my faults is typical, which helps with mentoring. For me, we ski every year, picking apart all aspects of my technique and analysing muscles, edges, and weight distribution. All of that adds to this constant introspection, which can turn into aims, objectives, and milestones.

 

Log in to your MyForcesEmployment account to learn more about our Mentoring Programme or contact your advisor today.

Could you be a mentor? Are you an experienced professional looking to make a meaningful impact? Join us today and start your mentoring journey.

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