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Q&A with Andrew Hornsby and Kareem Atef

We were delighted to interveiw mentor Andrew, Global Programme H&S Lead from Arcadis, UK and mentee Kareem Atef, Project HSE Manager from Petrojet, Egypt about their experience of participating in the Mentoring Scheme. 

 

"Being an IIRSM mentor has been an extremely enjoyable experience which has broadened my horizons." 

 

 

Q: What inspired you to be a mentor?

The opportunity to share my professional and business experience with someone who may benefit, and with someone who might help me see things from a different perspective.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge?

Making the time around business and family commitments, and sticking to it.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect?

Developing a positive relationship with someone new, and seeing their journey, while giving me the opportunity to research new things in order to have meaningful discussions and offer advice or guidance.

Q: What advice would you give someone considering mentoring?

Set aside sufficient time to properly engage, and be prepared to talk about things you don’t know much about but to which you can apply your transferable skills and experience.

Q: Has distance and being based in different countries effected how you communicated with Kareem?

No, I work globally anyway; if anything, my international experience has made this possible – or at least has added a valuable dimension.

Q: How do you communicate and has this worked for you?

Originally via Skype for Business, then Zoom and now MS Teams (with WhatsApp available if all else fails).

Q: Has being based in different countries effected how you mentored Kareem in terms of achieving objectives, understanding of role requirements and compliance?

No.

Q: What have you learnt about yourself from this scheme?

I had more to offer than I thought; my knowledge of how to research and access information is useful.

Q: Do you have experience of being mentored or coached yourself and can you summarise that experience?

No, I do not have (and have not had) a mentor.

Q: Benefits of mentoring in risk related role for the mentor and mentee?

An opportunity for discussion and for both to learn from each other’s experience and perspectives.

Summaries your experience in a short statement.

It has been an enjoyable experience which has broadened my horizons. 

Q: Anything else you wish to add.

Plan and diarise your sessions in advance.

 

 

"The one thing I can genuinely say is that this has been a brilliant journey and one that I don’t regret!" 

 

 

 

Q: What attracted you to become a mentee?

I wanted to develop my career within risk, health, safety and environment. I also wanted to seek continuous support and guidance from a more experienced and highly professional individual to enable me to overcome any work related challenges.

Q:What has been the biggest challenge?

Taking the initial step was a little difficult but once I made the decision, spoke with Andrew it all seemed more than fine. I could really see that we would get along and I was able to see how he will be able to help me.

One of my frustrations is when a scheduled meeting between Andrew and myself gets cancelled purely down to the fact that we are both very busy. It can take some time to reschedule a face-to-face meeting but we have found a way to deal with this by ensuring that we stay connected and keep lines of communication open through other methods such as email or WhatsApp. This helps us to ensure we are keeping in touch and updating each other regularly.

My advice to anyone embarking on this scheme is is to make sure you are organised and plan in advance your next meeting dates and times. Planning in advance our meetings gave me something to look forward to as I enjoy updating Andrew on my achievements and progress since our previous discussions

Finally, I was nervous that language would be a challenge because English language isn't my first language. Although I am good at reading, writing and listening sometimes it's hard to find words to express what I need to say but Andrew and I really do understand each other even though I often feel sorry for him that he has to listen to my broken English.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect?

There are many but one key aspect is that I successfully became an external examiner for NEBOSH through an independent contract. This is down to the support and confidence the scheme and Andrew gave me.

Q: What advise would you give someone considering the IIRSM scheme?

  • Ask your mentor open questions to learn from their experience as much as you can and don’t be afraid to go into detail with them, that’s the purpose of the scheme to benefit from their valuable experience.
  • Pre-Plan for the meeting and be prepared with any specific points you wish to cover.
  • Don't forget to confirm you next meeting date and time before the end of every meeting.
  • It's better to meet through applications like MS Teams, Zoom or Skype that allow video connection to offer eye contact. 
  • Always thank your mentor for their time and advice.

Q: Has distance and being based in different countries effected how you communicated with Andrew?

If anything it broadened both our horizons and increased our knowledge. It also helped us to bond and understand each other, learn about different cultures and absolutely helped me gain insight from an international perspective which is what I was looking for.

Andrew travels with his role and I am waiting for him to visit Egypt where he will be most welcomed by myself and the Egyptian community. I may even take him to my workplace to show him how I’ve implemented what I learnt from him.

Q: How do you communicate and has this worked for you?

Initially we were meeting through Skype, Skype for Business then Zoom. Now we meet through MS Teams and often use WhatsApp as a backup.

Q: Has being based in different countries effected how you received support from Andrew in terms of achieving objectives, understanding of role requirements and compliance?

No not at all. Andrew is always there when I need him and with the emerging new technology no one is ever far.

Q: What have you learnt about yourself from this scheme?

I have learnt the value of sharing; I am now disseminating the knowledge that Andrew is giving me to others around me. I have learnt to challenge and push myself to do better and more importantly I have learnt how to overcome risks through resilience and effective planning.

Q: Do you have experience of mentoring yourself and can you summarise that experience?

No this is my first time to join such a scheme but I would like to continue being mentored by Andrew and maybe one day I can be a mentor and pass on what Andrew has taught me and my own experience to help other risk professionals.

Q: What are the benefits of the scheme and being mentored by an experienced person in a risk related role?

Discussing career challenges with an experienced impartial person outside of your organization and country broadens your horizons and offers you a different perspective to any challenges faced.

The one thing I can genuinely say is that this has been a brilliant journey and one that I don’t regret!

Q: How do you feel you’ve developed professionally and personally?

The scheme has raised my confidence, I have obtained IFE Level 3 Certificate in Fire Engineering Science and Operation. I am able to reach out to different professional institutes to seek support and guidance and Andrews knowledge has helped me keep up with new regulations.

Summarise your experience and/or what you have learnt in a statement.

The scheme has allowed me to take several steps forward towards developing myself professionally, learning, growing and achieving my personal career goals.

Q: Anything else you wish to add.

Do it do it do it! You have absolutely nothing to loose but everything to gain to build on achieving your risk career goals. If it’s not for you can always withdraw but at least you tried!