By Gabriela Weglowska
Although intercultural careers are still quite rare, the field is rapidly expanding. As businesses are going global and teams are becoming more culturally diverse, there are two types of people that are currently in high demand: those with intercultural skills to work effectively across cultures, and those who can help them to develop these skills – intercultural mentors.
Have you ever had a mentor to help you clarify your intercultural career or improve the skills you need to do the intercultural job you wish to be doing? You may be thinking about becoming an intercultural trainer or consultant, working in a different country, or just wanting to be more effective when communicating with your colleagues or managing diverse teams.
If you were looking for an intercultural mentor, where would you go…?
Exactly! At the UK’s Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR UK) we have noticed the gap. That’s why SIETAR UK is launching Intercultural Career Boost – a mentoring* programme providing development opportunities for SIETAR UK members who would like to begin or advance their careers in the intercultural field.
The benefits of mentoring do not only reach those who receive it (mentees) but extend to those who provide it (mentors).
Benefits for mentees:
• Develop clarity in their career direction and action plan
• Enhanced reflection skills and the ability to assess own strengths and weaknesses
• Improved self-worth and job satisfaction
• Gained new strategies for dealing with specific problems
• Increased confidence in decision making and moving forward in a desired direction
• Expanded professional network
• A personalised development opportunity to address individual needs
Benefits for mentors:
• Recognition as a subject matter expert and leader
• Exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches
• Increased self-awareness
• Opportunity to reflect on their own goals and practices
• Advanced leadership, communication and interpersonal skills
• Gained personal satisfaction from building capacity in other people
Moreover, research has shown the positive effects of mentoring interventions on individuals, teams and entire organisations. For instance, mentoring can positively impact on individual well-being, engagement and job satisfaction . Mentoring also enables knowledge transfer in organisations and helps to develop a pipeline of future leaders .
The concept of mentoring is not new. Many private and public organisations, including universities, have recognised the huge value of mentoring and established successful mentoring schemes for staff and/or students. However, these schemes often focus on helping people to develop in their current roles and organisations or provide general career advice.
At the timing of writing this, there are no mentoring schemes in the UK that support interculturalists to develop themselves, especially at the beginning of their intercultural careers. As the intercultural profession is expanding rapidly, new skills, up-to-date knowledge and suitable networks would inevitably be in demand between now and the nearest future. SIETAR UK is very well positioned to support those who find it quite daunting to navigate their intercultural career map successfully.
In addition, there are two more elements that make Intercultural Career Boost so unique:
1. Our mentors come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Being mentored by someone from another culture exposes people to new ways of thinking, solving problems, managing conflict, approaching relationship building, or developing intercultural communication and collaboration strategies. These are the benefits of having culturally diverse teams as revealed by McKinsey research report .
2. Our programme responds to the latest Learning & Development trends focussed around collaborative and social learning. People who value their own development tend to choose to acquire new knowledge by working with others, asking questions and discussing ideas . What could be better suited for this than SIETAR UK mentoring where participants have every opportunity to network, build relationships and learn from each other in a cooperative and informal way.
-  Hicks B, Carter A, Sinclair A. (2013) “Impact of coaching”, Institute for Employment Studies
-  Page, M. (2015) “What are the benefits of mentoring?”, Michael Page
-  Hunt V, Layton D, & Prince S. (2015) “Diversity Matters”, McKinsey Report
-  Pandey, A. (2016) “Why you should adopt social learning”, eLearning Industry
Would you like to get involved?
- Register your interest: If you are a SIETAR UK member, Intercultural Career Boost is included in your membership. All you need to do is register your interest and complete a short online profile.
- Read the BOOST booklet: If you would like to receive more information about the programme view the booklet
- Come along to our launch event: Join our Intercultural Career Boost launch event on 24 May.
- Sign up to SIETAR UK: If you’re not yet a SIETAR UK member, sign up here – it only takes a few minutes.
*Mentoring can be described as a ‘development technique based on the use of one-to-one discussions to enhance an individual’s skills, knowledge or work performance (CIPD, 2017 ). It is a creative process where a mentor inspires and empowers a mentee to maximise their potential through smart goals setting and personal action planning, with as much guidance as individually required.
About the author:
Gabriela works as consultants and is passionate about intercultural mentoring. She understands the importance of it, because it helped her to develop her own intercultural career. She currently serves on the SIETAR UK Board as Director of Communications and together with the fellow Board members she has created the Intercultural Career Boost programme to support those who wish to begin or advance their intercultural professions.