Mentoring vrouwelijk talentFannie Cobben and Monique van den Boogaard are matched as mentee and mentor in this years’ Mentor4Talent programme 2021-2022 and share their experiences about their mentoring journey.

My name is Fannie Cobben, I live in Haarlem with my partner and our two sons. I work at Statistics Netherlands, and have done so for basically my whole working life. Since 2020 I’m in my first management position, as Head of Labour Market Statistics.

I was really honored to be asked to participate in the program by Sylvia (Kok-de Vries, one of the Topvrouwen). I am always open to opportunities to learn and grow, and the idea of a mentor from another organization really appealed to me because of the new perspective this could bring, and has brought! So we decided to participate together.

One of the developments that I would like to make as a manager at this stage of my career is to develop my strategic thinking and rise above the level of operational management. Besides that, I was wondering whether it would be a good move for me to look for my next job in the profit sector – something completely different and unknown to me.

Monique and I immediately hit it off. I could feel Monique was one hundred percent committed to this mentor-mentee traject and was really there to help me find my way in my own career, even though for her the sector in which I work is completely new. I think this challenged her as well.

During our first meeting, Monique already triggered me by asking what would be my next step. I just started in my new position and had not really thought about that. She advised me to do some research, like go talk to colleagues that I thought had a nice job and see if my image of this job was correct and indeed appealing. And to apply for jobs outside Statistics Netherlands to get a better idea about that work.

We kept up this pace, in our regular meetings Monique always gave me ‘homework’ and asked me about my findings and progress. We usually talk about broad issues, but once I struggled with a daily work-related issue and then she helped me out as well.

Eventually this has even led to a job opportunity and a learning trajectory that I am in now! I don’t think that would have happened without Monique, at least – not so fast. You have to do it yourself, of course, but it really helps to have someone with more experience that is there to stimulate and challenge you.

The added value of having a mentor from outside my own organization is that she doesn’t know my work or our organization and has no other interests than to help me further in my career. What a luxury!

To get the most out of this trajectory, my (our) advice is to start with a clear learning objective and from thereon: be open to suggestions, be curious and just go with the flow.

My name is Monique van den Boogaard, I live in Essen in Germany with my husband, and we have two daughters, one is living in NL and the other is living in USA. I work at Oschatz Energy Environment GmbH (part of Christof Industries) as Managing Director since 2019 and I started at Oschatz China in different functions in 2016.

I’ve been mentoring in my own companies for quite some time, and I found this a nice challenge to see if I can also mentor outside my organization. I really like to help young persons think for themselves about their career. If you do so within your own organization, you run the risk of steering them in a certain direction. And because of the hierarchical relation, in my own organization it’s more of an assignment whereas now, I had to wait and see whether she would follow my advice.

Because I didn’t know the organization of my mentee, it was easier to ask broad questions because I don’t know how her daily work is. I mainly wanted to encourage her to think for herself about her career steps, by asking questions that triggered her to do some research. Seeing her progress gives me a lot of energy, and I learn from it as well. I even started a new mentor-program in my own company, applying some of the lessons that I learned here. I really love doing this!

I might even be a bit jealous of the young women participating in this program, I would have loved to listen to stories of more experienced women and learn from their career paths when I was younger.

I get a lot of energy from mentoring it is so much fun to do this.

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