Elevate your Bayes experience with peer mentoring

Hi, I’m Laura! I’m in my second year of the Modular Executive MBA (MEMBA) program at Bayes and the Global Women’s Leadership Programme’s peer to peer mentoring programme coincided with the end of the core modules, second set of exams, the international consultancy week and the first half of electives – an intense period of formative experiences!

In that context, the programme and my wonderful mentor/mentee connection, Natasha, were extremely welcome – both moving me forward and providing respite from the pressure of studying and working simultaneously.

My journey to Bayes

I came to Bayes after a 20-year career in the performing arts, first as a dancer and then as a choreographer, puppeteer and opera director.  My job was my life, and it was a good one! I travelled the world, made hundreds of intimate connections with brilliant, empathetic, emotional souls from diverse backgrounds and I got the constant adrenalin shot of having to perform at a high level in front of not only audiences, but intimidatingly talented colleagues.

So of course, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced a complete stop on my work, an MBA, attractive as it is to gregarious, curious and aspirational souls with diverse backgrounds, felt like a natural (ludicrously ambitious) next step.  It was also an unarticulated dream of mine to study once at University; I went to full time ballet school at 10 and graduated into professional work at 18, missing out on what is such a formative cultural anchor for so many. Whilst I was satisfyingly challenged with the learning experience and quickly bonded with my cohort, whose different backgrounds, nationalities, viewpoints and life experiences excite and inspire me, as an executive student I felt slightly disconnected from the campus and longed to connect with others on different courses at Bayes.

When I saw the Global Women's Leadership Programme at Bayes offered a Peer to Peer Mentoring programme, I knew I would enjoy it, and thought it might help me knit better into the fabric of the school, expand my network and hopefully provide opportunities to practice my coaching skills as well as receive some coaching in return.

Peer-to-Peer mentoring

My pairing was with a student on the Master’s in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL), a course I had seriously considered before settling on the MBA. I remember feeling excited that I might get an insight into that degree through our connection, but on learning my partner, Tash, also had a theatre background, I confess I was less excited.  I felt that because of our shared backgrounds, this was someone who I could have easily connected with without the facilitation of a mentoring programme, but the reality was that our shared interests helped us to bond more quickly.

We had also had quite different roles and experiences in the industry, and I gained a new understanding of areas of my sector I hadn’t considered before.  We met monthly as proscribed, and we were good at sticking to our commitment to each other – I thank Tash for driving the discipline here!  Even though we could have spent our hours together shooting the breeze about our shared industry experiences, we adopted a semi-formal structure (with time to laugh!) to ensure that each of us got to talk through whatever was blocking us that month and get feedback and advice. I loved hearing about how the course and Tash’s ambitions were either converging or butting up against each other at times, and she was so unfailingly positive about my own challenges, but in a rigorous, truthful way that made me believe her and believe more in myself.

Our topics were wide ranging, but we often focused on our immediate professional goals outside of our studies – the ‘what next?’ of it all. I got my wished-for insight into the MICL degree when she invited me into a rehearsal for their performance module assignment. Tash also opened doors for me to feel confident signing up for Bayes-wide events which are not usually frequented by Exec students – we attended an event run by the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice and she introduced me to colleagues and friends there, widening my network still further.

Reflecting on the experience

I was so lucky that Tash was such an easy, joyful person to get to know and I believe our backgrounds in theatre made it very easy for us both to forge deeper than surface level connections quickly.  But I think committing to the peer to peer mentoring programme must reap the same, or even greater, rewards for those who find the thought of connecting with strangers more challenging, and that’s why it’s a vital part of the Bayes experience.

Studying is full on! Making meaningful connections outside of our own echo chamber is equally challenging. And committing to anything beyond the course requirements can be difficult – initially it feels manageable and even pleasant, but as the assignments pile up on top of external pressures, it can be easy to neglect anything extra-curricular.

The structured framework the programme provided helped to keep us on track, but the benefits of having that space and time to connect and work on ourselves with minimal judgement was the real added value. And with that last, extremely MBA sentence, I’m reminded that I owe Tash a text! Ciao for now!

Are you a female student at Bayes? Find out more about the peer to peer mentoring programme.