Ben Luks MIML had just been appointed as marketing, product and client liaison manager at Adelaide-based IT company Comunet when he joined the Institute’s mentoring program. He was teamed up with Bob Schroder FIML, managing director of consulting firm Asterisk management, and says the experience gave him the confidence he needed to become a successful manager.
Why did you join the Institute’s mentoring program, Member Exchange?
Ben Luks: I’d recently been appointed to a new management position and it was the first time I’d been a manager. I realised I had to learn as much as I could as quickly as possible. The chance to join the mentoring program came at a very crucial point in my career. Bob was very generous with his time and was willing to meet with me every fortnight for about six months, which was fantastic.
Bob Schroder: I’ve been mentoring business leaders for quite a few years, mostly in the area of small-to-medium-sized businesses. This was my first experience with the mentoring program and I joined because mentoring challenges my own thinking. I find that an emerging manager sometimes faces the same issues I faced in the past as well as many different ones. Also, some challenges just look different, but are really the same ones in disguise.
What did you get out of the experience?
BL: I feel more confident in my management role compared to where I was when I started. The mentoring program gave me the skills and the ideas I needed to perform effectively as a manager and the confidence that comes with that is very important. It also gave me the opportunity to see the next steps forward in my career and to think about the bigger picture. Bob really opened my eyes to what is possible beyond my current role and where I could go from here.
BS: Well, it sounds a little bit corny, but I like to give back. I think that’s really important. I’ve had a career in management and consulting over the past 30 years. It’s been interesting and exciting and rewarding for me and I want others to have a similar experience in their own careers.
What did you learn from each other?
BL: Bob provided a different perspective on management and shared insights from his vast experience as a management consultant. The team I manage includes people quite a bit older than me, and Bob emphasised that anybody can be a manager – it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you have the ability to work effectively with people and to give them the opportunity to grow into their roles and the space they need to perform to the best of their abilities, then you can be a manager. That was a lesson I learned from the outset and it was really empowering for me and very inspiring.
BS: I enjoy interaction with bright young managers. Ben, particularly, is a bright young chap who’s on the growth path. I gained a better perspective on the way in which emerging managers think and the perspectives of the new generations of employees who will shape business in the future. That’s particularly important.
Would you recommend the mentor program to others?
BL: Absolutely. For any new manager, or any aspiring manager, the program enables you to learn skills and insights that really can only be gained from years of experience. You can’t put a price on having access to that knowledge and experience.
BS: Yes, absolutely. I’d say to anyone who’s considering becoming a mentor in the program that if you’re doing it for the expectation of significant personal or financial benefit, you need to re-examine your motives. Those things will happen, but they’ll happen by making you into a better and well-rounded manager.