WOW and the Art of Speed Mentoring
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WOW and the Art of Speed Mentoring

© "London Eye" by Deborah Henry-Pollard

I have had the most fabulous morning!

It is International Day of the Girl and I, alongside a host of great women, spent an hour mentoring 180 other great girls and women on The EDF London Eye.  Yep, you read that correctly!

The 32 capsules were filled to capacity with girls armed with questions and challenges.  As mentors, we speed mentored 3 girls, spending 15 minutes with each.  The general idea is that use our own life experiences, knowledge and intuition to offer ideas and new perspectives.  This we did, but in exchange, we got so much inspiration and insight from our mentees.

I was in a pod with, amongst others, a librarian, artists, photographers and dancers.  Our mentees were girls of 10 and 11, all looking forward to the challenge of going to 'big school' next year.  It was fabulous to hear their ideas and world view, how much they love to read (I spoke with two nascent authors) and their ambitions (another young lady is going to be a dancer and run her own dance company).  And you know what?  I have every belief that the girls I spoke with will do it, because their view is that anything is possible.  And as our capsule reached the top of the London Eye circuit, 135metres up over the city, a beautiful rainbow appeared as though celebration of the enthusiasm, achievements and dreams of all the women and girls on board. (Here is a shot of our pod from Pips Taylor.)
After the mentoring was over, we got the chance to network with other mentors over coffee before going into the Queen Elizabeth Hall to hear a group from Tomorrow's Warriors playing some very smooth jazz, before hearing from Jude Kelly, Jessie Ware and Chibundu Onuzo talking about their experiences of being and wanting role models, and the important way that women support each other.  Later, a series of talks and workshops for the participating girls were running at Southbank Centre, focusing on a theme of positive body image.

This initiative was part of the WOW – Women of the World festival series that runs year round at the South Bank Centre, with a fabulous few days of intense activity in March. I have speed mentored every year in London and it is a wonderful, exciting, thrilling activity.  (And this year, it was opened by the wondrous Jessye Norman, speaking on How the Arts Can Inspire.)  As mentors, we are the ones who are meant to be giving of our time and expertise, but I usually get so much more back from the mentees.  I come away so inspired and fired up with the tremendous potential gathered together in one room - or as today, in one London Eye!

You can catch up with past WOW sessions online and find out where else the WOW Festival is taking place worldwide.

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