When we talk about working in the creative sector, the conversation tends to focus on getting a job, but often we forget to talk about what happens afterwards. There are many of us, across all industries that face various struggles when trying to navigate the next steps in our careers, and unfortunately if you’re female or have a minority ethnic heritage, this can be even trickier still.
At Handle we are committed to finding the best possible candidates for our clients and we know that having a richly diverse team is an asset for any company and essential for a thriving creative industry. Late last year we launched our creative breakthrough programme, our fresh take on what mentoring for the creative industries should look like. We wanted to find a way to support those who traditionally aren’t represented in senior roles within creative companies, and for our inaugural intake we focused on women and in October 2019 we will be welcoming BAME applicants to the programme.
We created a structured creative industry mentoring programme that paired women already working in creative industries with an experienced mentor in a similar field, who could help them build confidence, grow contacts and propel them onto the next stage in their career.
As the first programme comes to an end, we caught up with mentees Claudia Mancino a label coordinator at Eleven Seven Label Group and Rosie Dimont a project manager at Melody VR to find out how mentoring worked for them. Ollie Oshodi, Head of Entertainment at Fuse and Co-Managing Director of Island Records Natasha Mann were both mentors on the programme and gave us some insight into their experience too.
So ladies, what attracted you to the creative breakthrough mentorship programme?
Claudia (mentee): After several internships and then completing my masters in Music Management and Artist Development, I felt like I wasn’t really progressing with my career. Searching for a job started to feel frustrating, so I was looking for a mentor, someone who had the time and knowledge to lead me towards the right direction.
Rosie (mentee): It was similar for me too; I was feeling at a bit of a standstill with my career, not feeling like I was achieving the forward movement I wanted and not really knowing where to turn for some guidance. I noticed that someone had posted about the Creative Breakthrough Mentorship programme on LinkedIn and I thought based on what they were looking for, that maybe I could find someone to talk to and learn from that might have experienced something similar.
Ollie (mentor): Personally, I have always wanted to do something to support black or ethnic minority people in the creative industry. I’ve found myself discussing the challenges women of colour face in the workplace amongst friends, and since I’ve been fortunate enough to do well in my career, I wanted to pay it forward and help other people to get through too.
Natasha (mentor): I was drawn to this scheme because I really liked the idea of a programme that worked to support women progress within the creative industries.
What was your experience of the mentoring programme?
Ollie: I’ve loved it. I’m working with someone who is so passionate, driven and enthusiastic and it’s been good to be able to share some of my experiences and say ‘oh that happened to me ’ and then explain how I dealt with it. The whole thing has been so positive and its been interesting to find out what’s going on with the younger people too as it’s particularly important in my industry to stay connected.
Rosie: I didn’t know what to expect initially, and my mentor is actually training in coaching, so my mentorship included some of the philosophies she was working on, which I think really helped frame my goals and my understanding of what my next steps were. About two months into the programme, what I thought my goals and aims were going to be for this programme (and my life) changed, so it became more about learning how to re-focus myself and making myself accountable.
Natasha: I had a great experience as a mentor. My mentee was a brilliant match and she came with some clear goals that she wanted to work towards. I found it rewarding to work with my mentee to help her problem solve and see the next few steps of her career clearly, and as I learned alot from her too, whch made the experience even more enjoyable.
Claudia: My mentor has been a great role model for me, and a very good listener. Before our first meeting I was feeling a bit apprehensive but she made me feel at ease and talked me through her career experiences in a very honest way. She was always helpful and straightforward and thanks to her guidance in the space of a few months I improved my CV and found my dream job!
What impact has mentoring had on your career?
Rosie: Meeting someone who was able to provide a completely different perspective than those I normally go to for advice was amazing. I would absolutely 100% recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to work with a mentor does so, because I believe that we need mentors at every stage in our life, however deep into our careers we are.
Claudia: I agree with Rosie. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done and it taught me a lot, not only about the music business, but also about myself. Meeting some equally passionate and insightful women who are either leaders or rising stars in the music business has also been incredible, and I’d encourage everyone to apply for the next wave.
I think mentoring is something a lot of people think about but it can take a lot of resources to set up effectively. This particular programme is so well designed and it’s made the process easier if you want to support people. I think Handle have been great with organising meet-ups and workshops and I think as a mentee it probably feels really supportive, which I really like. The amount of effort they’ve put into making it a success and keeping everyone networking just shows what a great company Handle are. - Ollie Oshodi, Head of Entertainment at Fuse.
Our next programme will be focused on reaching people who are of a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) heritage as there is still a lack of diversity throughout the creative industry at a senior level.