Leading our students to mentoring success

Published on 6 July 2021

At the University of Dundee, we believe that it is important for students to have an opportunity to take part in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. One such activity is the Leadership Plus Mentoring programme

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The Leadership Plus Mentoring programme, an award of Dundee Plus which helps students develop skills that employers are looking for, get recognition for these skills and communicate them and their achievements, was launched in 2016 as a pilot programme. The programme aims to help meet the demand for leadership development and has grown systematically and sustainably over the last four years with over 50 students taking part this year. 

This year we were delighted to work with the Careers Service team to invite our alumni and supporters from across the world to become mentors on the programme.   

Jon Fitzpatrick, a three times graduate of the University of Dundee and now Managing Director of strategic and corporate finance advisory firm operating within the energy and natural resources sectors, Gneiss Energy, was introduced to Martha Umeh Ude-Eze, a Masters student of Social Work and current Vice President of Academia at Dundee University Students’ Association as part of the Leadership Plus Programme. 

Despite never having met in person the duo have formed a remarkable relationship. Jon has guided Martha as she explored how life after academia might look, while undertaking her current Vice President duties and also emerging the overall winner for the Global plus award for 2020/21. 

Having benefited as a mentee himself throughout his university experience Jon fully recognised how the relationships helped shape his own decisions. Actively involved with the Development and Alumni Relations Office it felt like a natural progression to become involved in the Leadership plus programme, offering the same support.  

Jon Fitzpatrick
“The programme is an excellent way for me to remain engaged with University of Dundee students. I have always enjoyed supporting our young people in achieving their ambitions whilst building the invaluable skills required to transition from academia to the working world, imparting some of my experiences to the next generation”

Jon Fitzpatrick

The main motivation for Martha applying was to find some direction in her career after university life.  

“Embarking on the programme was a little daunting to begin with, the prospect of meeting someone who had been a successful corporate lawyer, then an investment banker and was now the MD of their own advisory firm operating throughout the energy sector, but Jon quickly put me at ease,” said Martha.   

With each pairing on the programme taking control of how to structure the mentorship, Jon and Martha took the opportunity to schedule weekly calls as a minimum.  

“Video calls are the now the norm and we’ve gone on to form a close bond even though we’re in different cities and have never met in person. 

Martha Umeh Ude-Eze standing in front of her name on a board wearing a graduation gown
“Aside from Jon’s belief in me, a significant benefit is the increased confidence I now have to tackle the challenges and opportunities I’ll face in the early stages of my career. It has also been incredibly useful in helping me set realistic and achievable personal development goals that also stretch me and support me in reaching my potential. It has also allowed me to start building a professional network outside of the University.”

Martha Umeh Ude-Eze

“It was a great feeling to know that someone wanted to invest their time and effort in helping my development. While mentoring doesn’t provide you with all the answers it is an amazing framework to support you with your own decision making.”  

Jon added, “The mentoring programme serves as a way to give back and is an important personal development and learning experience. Explaining something, thinking it through with a clear explanation so it is easy to understand is really useful part of the mentoring experience as it challenges your ability to provide relevant advice in a clearly understandable format.

“No matter what direction students think their degree might take them, it is imperative to have an external sounding board to support decision making. A good mentor should not advise of a particular path but support with guidance, offering an independent perspective, providing the mentee with a rubric for problem-solving. I think you become a more competent mentor when you are forced to generalize your advice to an individual based on your own numerous experiences.

“It is never about providing answers but rather ensuring that a mentee reaches their own potential.” 

To get involved as a mentor in the Leadership Plus programme please email alumni@dundee.ac.uk  

Andy Smart standing next to a Union Jack flag
“I've enjoyed the programme and being able to do it virtually. My job takes me all over the world so having a 30 minute zoom call has been perfect. It’s been so rewarding. What was really nice is when the advice, guidance and little plans you put together lead to success, which we certainly noticed within a couple of months.”

Andy Smart (Politics-German, 2012) 

Alan Bainbridge portrait photo
“It was interesting that I was matched with someone from the medical profession.  As someone who's come from the legal profession and stayed in that profession, albeit I went into banking for a while, it still shows you how much cross pollination there is in terms of the things that you face when you're coming out of undergraduate status into either the workplace or postgraduate status.”

Alan Bainbridge (Law 1994)  

You can read more about these mentoring relationships:

Alan and Aalap’s mentoring story

Andy and Jack’s Story

Tisha and Graeme’s Story

Story category The Bridge Magazine