The story of Bart De Smet

“Over the past three years I have participated twice in the Young Leaders – Inspiring Mentors programme. I view these experiences as deeply rewarding and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. Being a mentor outside my own company and sector has allowed me to take mentorship to the next level and it has been an interesting experience on many different levels – both for the mentee but also for myself”, says Bart De Smet.

Time to get personal

“On two occasions I was a mentor to people from very different sectors – the social and education sector – with very different backgrounds and experiences. This is the aim of the programme and I can only applaud that.”

“When mentoring employees within your own company, you naturally focus more on the context of the organisation in which both mentor and mentee function. Consequently, there will inherently be a few restrictions in the dialogue and the topics discussed. That is why a programme like Young Leaders – Inspiring Mentors adds so much value, as these boundaries are removed when participating in an external mentoring programme. Our talks touched the personal thoughts and experiences of the mentee. Discussions tended to lead to thinking beyond the narrow scope of the mentee’s day to day job.”

When the mentee gets promoted

“We reflected on the meaning of what the mentee was doing each day. We discussed ambitions in the short and long term. As their mentor, I felt that my biggest role and challenge was to give my mentees the confidence to take that next decision, which may not always seem the most obvious one. That is what I have tried to do during each programme and I think I can say that for both the mentee and I, this has been successfully achieved. When a mentee showed doubts and a lack of confidence, we tackled this together, and I was very happy to hear afterwards that they had made a promotion or took the courage to change sector in order to prove their added value in this new sector.”

I would conclude that being a mentor is a real commitment and an important responsibility.

“Participating in this mentoring programme was also an eye-opener for me. Not only did I get to meet highly talented, inspiring new people, I also gained a better understanding of the many differences between sectors, which only served to increase my appreciation for the work that different people and organisations are doing.”

“I would conclude that being a mentor is a real commitment and an important responsibility. You must make yourself available to get to know each other, gain mutual trust, tackle different topics and exchange experiences. It is a two-way engagement, wherein the Young Leader must show motivation and drive, and the Inspiring Mentor must make the time to respond and coach. In my view, this is the only way to make the mentoring programme a success.”

“But let me reassure you, it is worth your commitment and the benefit is huge on both sides.”