What it means to be a Mentor with Louise O'Gara

Louise O'Gara, Senior Human Resources Business Partner of Danske Bank, shares the values and mindset behind her experience as a Mentor. Creating a valuable and rewarding mentorship with her mentees,  Louise helps to personally & professionally develop her fellow Women in Business!


Every mentoring relationship is different and it is important to appreciate that there is no single way to make it work, as each can have a very different dynamic.  As a mentor, I am essentially a facilitator for my mentee’s learning, and growth, supporting them in stretching the parameters of what is possible, whilst building and developing their confidence.

I feel it is important to commit yourself to being a mentor and all that comes with it!  My mentee should feel they are my number one priority.  As a mentor, I genuinely want to support another individual, celebrate their success and take pride in watching them flourish.

Mentors require a dedicated mind-set in giving of time, effort, expertise, compassion, support, warmth and integrity.  As a mentor, I enter the relationship, with the mind-set of being prepared to live the journey with my mentee.

At the core is authenticity, honesty and transparency to develop a trusting relationship. Approachability, friendliness with an enthusiastic character and attitude is necessary to help your mentee feel at ease. Energy, balanced with compassion and empathy to pick your mentee up when needed, is a vital skill.  Having the ability to listen, provoke mentee thought and analysis to support progression, coupled with encouragement, ability to challenge and ‘nudge’ along the way are key competencies.

As a mentor my mind-set should also be open to developing my own competence and skill set.  A Mentee brings with them their own set of experiences and the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Once the parameters of the relationship have been established, an effective mentor will gain a quick grasp of the career challenges faced and any personal considerations.  Supporting a mentee in agreeing a purpose to focus on what they want to achieve helps them ascertain the significant skills and competencies required.  Assisting a mentee in developing a plan with milestones to provide a direction of travel is an important practice along with holding the mentee to account through balanced and constructive feedback. It is fundamental to have a willingness and ability to impart your own experience and knowledge.

As a mentor, it is also important that I am adaptable, realising that my mentee’s journey may not be smooth, at times requiring high levels of courage.  Being cognisant to my mentee’s feelings and just being there to listen are all part and parcel.

For me, the practice of being a mentor rests on understanding that this is relationship is 2-way, keeping commitments made to support my mentee realise their vision, their potential and in doing so, encouraging them to be the best version of themselves.

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction...Want to develop your own mentoring skills, while supporting and giving back to others? Click here to visit the Centre of Learning to find out more information on the Women in Business Mentoring Programme - just download a mentor bio form and get in touch with our Head of Programmes, Nicky: nicky@womeninbusinessni.com

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