What is mentoring and what can it do for me?

In recent years it has become very fashionable and we hear almost daily about the existence of “mentoring programmes” that promise to help you in various ways: to grow in your business, to change your life, to grow as a person. But do you really know what mentoring is and what it is for? Today I am going to try to shed some light on this, especially focusing more on mentoring that is related to career development.

We understand mentoring as a professional relationship in which one experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentee) in the development of specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the professional and personal growth of the less experienced person. It is a two-way relationship in which both parties are committed to listening to each other and learning along the way.

Mentoring can also be understood as a methodology aimed at developing people’s potential, based on the transfer of knowledge and learning through experience, all within a structured process in which a personal and trusting relationship is established between a mentor who guides, stimulates, challenges and encourages another according to his/her needs in order to maximize talent.

The main characteristics of this process are the following:

  • 3 basic pillars: active listening, asking questions and finally, talking and conveying your ideas.
  • In this process, the mentee cannot simply be a listener. He or she is not a mentee but professional seeking assistance on specific issues.
  • The mentor is in charge of guiding the process.
  • Confidentiality in a mentoring process must be guaranteed.

This type of process has a number of advantages, some of which are mentioned below.

Accelerate the process of personal and professional development of people.

Improve the management of intangibles: enthusiasm, motivation, enthusiasm, commitment, optimism, hope, confidence, resilience.

It reduces costs for training, learning, adaptation to the job and integration into the organisation.

It fosters a culture of cooperation and collaboration.

To face a process of professional or personal transformation in the best possible way.

Facilitates organisational change processes, making them more effective, long-lasting and sustainable.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are many types of mentoring: for companies and organisations, for individuals, for communities, mentoring in education. I have been involved in national and international mentoring programmes related to research career development and innovation for more than 7 years. Due precisely to my experience, from here on I am going to focus on these types of programmes, and I am going to try to give you an overview of the mentoring process that is followed in these types of areas that are closer to R&D&I.



In most cases, in order to access a mentor, you will need to apply for a place within the relevant programme. To do so, you will either have to make a pitch about your mentoring needs or apply online. The programme itself will be in charge of matching you with your mentor.


Once the mentor-mentee “pairs” have been established, the work meetings begin, which can be face-to-face or online. Normally, three dimensions are worked on in these sessions: the emotional dimension, the intellectual dimension and the social dimension. The plan of sessions is agreed between the ment@r and the mentee based on the needs of the latter so that it is a logical process of progress and directed growth. A clear objective is also usually set at the beginning of the process, e.g. to learn about career development options outside the academy, to prepare my company to participate in European projects, etc.


To ensure that all the work done during the approximately 6 months that a mentoring programme usually lasts on average is usefull, a career development plan is usually drawn up. It is a living document where the learning, tasks and objectives that are worked on during the mentoring sessions are written down, and which in the end will serve as a guide for you to take action on the future work that you will have to develop in order to achieve your professional objectives.

En los últimos 5 años se han multiplicado exponencialmente los programas de mentoring en desarrollo de carrera y en apoyo a emprendedores. Muchos de ellos no son de acceso abierto, ya que se ofrecen directamente a los alumnos de una universidad o a las empresas incubadas en una determinada aceleradora, por ejemplo. Por ejemplo, yo soy mentora del programa GPS de la Universidad CEU San Pablo, o de la Universidad Ca’ Foscari de Venecia. En estos programas solo pueden participar alumnos de esas universidades que estén en los últimos años de carrera o haciendo algún máster. Los ejemplos que os voy a dar ahora son programas de mentoring mucho más abiertos en los que podéis participar si os interesa ( y en los que también participo yo como mentora!)

In the last 5 years, mentoring programmes in career development and support for entrepreneurs have multiplied exponentially. Many of them are not open access, as they are offered directly to the students of a university or to the companies incubated in a specific accelerator, for example. For example, I am a mentor in the GPS programme at CEU San Pablo University, or at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. These programmes are only open to students from these universities who are in the final years of their degree or doing a master’s degree. The examples I am going to give you now are much more open mentoring programmes in which you can participate if you are interested (and in which I also participate as a mentor!).

Led by FECYT, its main objective is to connect young researchers with professionals outside the academic sector so that they can broaden their career development options. There is one edition per year and it is open to any researcher. It lasts approximately 6 months and, in addition to the working sessions with your ment@r, it also offers specialized training in career development for both mentors and mentees.

Inspired by the REBECA programme, the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) in Spain has launched this year 2021 the CAMINO programme, focused on offering mentoring to PhD students. It is true that it is a programme aimed only at researchers at CSIC centres, but taking into account that in this institution there are more than 120 research institutes and more than 11,000 people working in them, the critical mass of PhDs who have access to the programme is large. The characteristics are the same as those described in the REBECA programme.

I wanted to highlight this programme launched in 2006 by the madri+d Foundation for two reasons. On the one hand, the businessmentor madri+d certification helps you to effectively promote your work as a mentor of entrepreneurs or your entrepreneurship support programme, to implement a proven working methodology, to acquire new techniques and to improve your skills to facilitate effective mentoring relationships. On the other hand, companies in the Region of Madrid can have access to the Mentoring Network made up of businessmen and professionals of recognized experience who facilitate the path of science and technology-based entrepreneurs, helping them to consolidate the success of their innovative initiatives. In this case, the madri+d Foundation periodically organizes events where entrepreneurs defend their mentoring needs to the mentors through a pitch, and it is the latter who select the companies they want to mentor.

I have developed my own methodology based on all my years of learning as a mentor in national and international programs, where through personalized sessions and homework activities, I help you to develop your greatest potential in terms of research career development. You can write to me and tell me about your case and, completely free of charge, you can download my career planner to start “opening your mouth” in this professional growth.


What counts here is proactivity and your contact network. These programs I have mentioned above and others like them usually publish “calls” to build their database of mentors they can count on when mentees start requesting the service. Normally you have to submit an application where you explain your professional experience, the sector in which you work, where you think you can contribute the most value as a mentor…they are usually online applications where you send the documentation requested by the institution…and wait for them to contact you saying that they have found you a mentee!

Although you have already seen that there are other mentoring networks, such as madri+d, that require you to take their own certification in order to become part of the team of accredited mentors within that program.

What I can guarantee you is that, although it is a completely voluntary and non-profit job, it is well worth it. It is a process that involves putting a lot of energy into your mentee, but from which you learn constantly, no matter how many times you repeat a session, it will always be different. And for those of us who need to transmit and who have a vocation to help, it is a very powerful instrument for personal and professional growth.


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