Supporting each other in our careers is vital for our development, and just as rewarding for the provider as the receiver. We spoke to Talent Solutions Programme Manager, Tom Pearce, about his experiences as an onboarding buddy.

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Tom’s story: enriched learning through buddying

I was approached to become a buddy based on my previous experience as a mentor. I’ve mentored for internal development programmes, which encouraged me to step forward.

I chose to take on the buddy role because I’m interested in supporting others’ development and sharing my cross-sector experience. This opportunity meant helping to shape other people’s careers in finance, while also learning more about different industries and growing my own knowledge, so it was an easy decision to get involved.

As a buddy, I’m proud to have supported trainees and helped to build their confidence as a finance professional while they qualify. This support has been particularly important during a time when we’ve transitioned to working from home.

During lockdown, trainees have often missed the informal development that they previously would have received in an office environment, so it’s been really important as a buddy to be there at a time where there is less in-person support.

"Being a good buddy means three things… being professional, being respectful and being encouraging."

My buddying experience has taught me many lessons. So far, it’s been a fascinating insight into how finance functions operate, particularly in the types of development for trainee accountants and the differences between qualifying in industry compared to professional practice which is more familiar to me. I’ve found my buddies to be curious about the world of accountancy and professional services, which has been enjoyable to discuss.

Being a buddy has taught me to be more reflective and improve my questioning and listening skills. I’ve needed to consider which aspects of my experience are useful to share and in turn I’ve learned more about the individual. This has helped me recognise opportunities to offer support and has been a practice that is useful in both client-facing roles and internally for helping others develop.

As a buddy, I’ve learned about the different factors in enabling development. I’ve gained a better understanding of the situational context for development and learned that encouraging openness and establishing trust are the biggest enablers to unlocking someone’s development.

Being a good buddy means three things… being professional, being respectful and being encouraging.

My buddying discussions have led to a future opportunity in learning and development. One apprentice I’m buddy to is currently studying for their CIMA qualification while working in finance at the House of Commons. Thanks to our buddy conversations, we’re now discussing holding a speaker session with some of their finance colleagues around improving diversity and social mobility through access to development.

I'd recommend being a buddy to anyone. By putting yourself out there, you’ll develop your mentoring and coaching style, while giving someone else a boost in starting their career. It’s hugely rewarding and your buddy could end up becoming a contact for life.

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