I have been lucky enough in my short post-uni career to have had a few amazing mentors. Our relationships have developed organically, with me approaching them and asking them to tell me what they know!
One is a very successful business woman who runs the Business Networking Academy in Sydney. I met Julia whilst still at uni. She was presenting at a conference in Melbourne in 2009, and when I moved to Sydney later that year I looked her up. She actually helped me make a pivotal decision as a marketing graduate. I had two job offers in Sydney; one a sales/marketing/general dogs body role at a high-end invitation and stationary boutique, the other with a market-leading cruise expedition company. They would have offered me very difference experiences, and I was very unsure about which path to take.
Over coffee Julia asked me some pretty tough questions about what I really wanted out of a job – not these jobs per se – rather my ‘ultimate’ job. Through this self-analysis I came to a decision, and went with the cruise company, which turned out to be a whirlwind two years; a huge learning curve with some far flung travel thrown in. So a good decision! Julia and I still keep in touch and I admire her greatly.
Through Julia, I met another person who is now very important in the work aspect of my life. He is the founder of quite an abstract business, which took me a while to get my head around. Needless to say, his core business is property intelligence, which ties in very neatly to my interior design studies.
He made the move to Melbourne this year (he’s only human) so I have been lucky enough to be able to pick his brains on a regular basis. It’s also a good way to check out new cafes in the CBD. He gives me a largely untapped perspective on the commercial world of design that cannot be taught in a classroom. I sort of think of him as my secret weapon! I genuinely think that the ‘layer’ of critical thinking and analysis that he is passing onto me will make me a much better designer.
On our coffee catch ups, he starts reeling off names of design agencies, architect firms, commercial real estate agents and a whole host of other companies and people I should know. The notebook comes out, and I leave there totally overwhelmed, head spinning, but very inspired.
Only on Thursday I had a coffee with Genty Marshall of New Black Global Trends. Again, Genty is someone who’s role you can’t quite explain as you would a lawyer, or doctor. She is a futurist of sorts, who works two to five years in the future bringing to the design world the colours, concepts, patterns, textures and other trends that we will all see in design, paints, furniture, furnishings and much more, in one, three or even five years time. I asked Genty if she had a mentor, and she explained that her mother is her go to for advice, but that she also wants to strike up a more formal relationship with a previous client. It was clear that Genty was on the mentor bandwagon.
In a way I consider everyone I am approaching (stalking) to meet up with me as a mentor of sorts. Some may only last one coffee, some a few more, or as is the case of the two mentioned above, some have become more developed mentors.
I love that people older, wiser and with a lot of experience under their belts than me are willing to give me the time to point me in the right direction and offer advice. I think of my mentors as fundamental to my development both as a rookie interior designer, a business woman and as a person.