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Mentorship Doesn't Need To Be An 'Inside' Job There is much to be gained from a mentor that might have specific knowledge and expertise in a completely different sector or industry.

By Pamela Chikhani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Mentorship is a valuable tool for any professional, whether at the start of their career, or at the pinnacle of their success. Gaining new perspectives, considering new approaches and enjoying the support and confidentiality of a mentor can fast track career paths and transform lives.

Increasingly, organizations around the world are recognizing the many benefits of developing talent-mentoring programs– currently 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring to their employees. Interestingly, the majority of these companies harness the value of internal employee resources to develop others, rather than approaching mentors outside of the organization.

While there are undoubted benefits to receiving mentoring from within an organization (understanding the company culture, knowledge of the particular skills and expertise required for the job, and navigating the internal politics), there are also limitations.

At Reach Mentoring, we believe there is much to be gained from a mentor that might have specific knowledge and expertise in a completely different sector or industry. A perspective on situations, without the benefit of "insider knowledge," coupled with confidentiality and mutual trust between mentor and mentee can add inordinate value.

We have witnessed first-hand how finding a "match" outside a person's comfort zone can be highly beneficial and can open doors to a host of new possibilities with fresh ideas and knowledge. What is important is that mentees work with someone who has experienced similar situations in their career, who can empathize but also offer suggestions or recommendations on dealing with challenges and who can help set specific and tangible objectives.

Business advice gleaned from different experiences and industry backgrounds can be highly insightful, broadening a mentee's vision and understanding. At Reach Mentoring, we use a customized platform to match mentors and mentees, determining their compatibility according to various criteria, including communication styles, development objectives and personality traits. We have matched engineers with lawyers, government executives with communications directors, and CSR strategists with HR partners of global management consultancy firms.

The Reach Mentoring process relies on collaboration between mentor and mentee to achieve mutually defined goals that will develop the mentee's skills, abilities, knowledge or thinking. Our mentors have a genuine interest in helping others develop both personally and professionally, and all have one key objective in mind: to support the next generation of successful female leaders from and for the Middle East.

Trust is a critical factor highlighted at Reach to ensure a healthy and successful mentorship relationship, and while it is certainly possible to enjoy this element of confidentiality in in-house mentoring, there can be additional comfort in being mentored by someone outside of one's organization.

The benefits of mentoring –for both mentors and mentees– is invaluable. There are lessons to be learned for both parties, and these do not necessarily need to pertain to the specific industry or field in which the mentees or mentors work. In fact, some of the most exciting and unexpected breakthroughs may come –if not from left field as the saying goes– then from another field altogether!

Related: Promoting Cultures Of Change Through Mentorship

Pamela Chikhani

Co-founder, Reach and Corporate Head - Business Development & Communications, Oasis Investment Company (Al Shirawi Group)

Pamela E. Chikhani is the co-founder of Reach and the Corporate Head of Business Development & Communications at Oasis Investment Company (Al Shirawi Group).

In her current role at the Al Shirawi Group, Pamela manages key business activities and creates long-term value for all 12 companies under the Group. Recently, she has also been appointed as the Director of Strategic Alliances for The Arcadia Preparatory School, a new sector that Al Shirawi Group is venturing into.

Previously, Pamela has served as Head of Business Strategy at London Business School (LBS), where she defined, set-up and delivered the regional business development and outreach strategy for the LBS Dubai office. Prior to that, she was Head of Customized Solutions at Thomson Reuters, and also spent eight years at Zawya where she led and managed the Financial Solutions Division.

Pamela is also a co-founder, board member and mentor at Reach, a non-profit organization registered in DIFC that is dedicated to helping young professional women unlock their true potential through structured mentoring and professional support.

Pamela believes in continuous self-development and holds several certifications from prestigious international institutes such as the Coach Training Institute (CTI), Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM), to name a few. She has completed with Honors a Masters in Economics from University of London in the UK; and a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.



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