Bruk Woldegabreil, senior manager in marketing and business development, tells us about his experience of mentorship. He shares the value it gives participants, including opportunities to speak up about inclusion and diversity and his proudest mentoring moments.

I'm a senior manager in the financial services group, part of the large and complex team. I support our business risk services team to co-source internal audit services into banks and building societies.

I'm also a mentor for the Micro-Placement Programme (MPP) run by City, University of London, which gives City students opportunities to get professional experience on summer placements with a wide range of London-based employers, including our firm.

Giving something back

The mentoring programme involves project work, one-to-one mentoring conversations and supports developing mentees' professional profiles. Mentorship is helpful for people who don't have friends or family members in the sector to help them. Many students who apply to the programme have personal backgrounds or social mobility challenges that make connecting with a financial services practitioner difficult.

Coming to the UK with my family as an asylum seeker when I was young has helped me better understand some of the difficulties students have faced leading up to higher education. It's also helped the students see my career path as an inspiration for what's possible from humble beginnings.

I decided to become a mentor for MPP because of my own experience as a student. I benefitted hugely from my work experience with Nationwide. The mentorship I received in that firm helped me pursue my career in financial services. With my experience, I feel I can give value back to today's students to help them on their way.

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I have so many proud moments as a mentor

"I'd say the proudest moment with every student I've mentored over the years is hearing news of their first graduate job in a financial services firm. It shows me that the programme works and can make a massive difference to an individual's career."

I'm very proud to say that one of my placement students from 2018, Prakavi Vijayarajah, is now an audit associate with us, joining the firm at the start of this year. She was great to mentor and thrived on the opportunity to work with banks and regulatory policy.

This mentoring opportunity enhances our profile as a firm among a graduate population seeking to start their career with an employer that nurtures young talent. It can be a fulfilling experience to inspire a student's aspirations for their future career.

It also opened up the opportunity to participate as a panellist for City's recent diversity and inclusion event.

We should all be open to learning more from others

External events are an excellent way to learn about best practices we can adopt to support our journey further. It's great representing the firm and sharing our inclusion  and diversity (I&D) strategy.

The two recurring I&D themes discussed during City's I&D event were creating an authentic sense of belonging and improving social mobility. Exploring these aspects highlighted what more we should incorporate into our firm's I&D strategy.

It was encouraging to see participants from all backgrounds asking difficult questions around unconscious bias and calling out where recruitment strategies are not keeping pace with employers' diversity needs.

Our I&D strategy supports social mobility, creating a sense of belonging for all our people, providing more learning and development opportunities to overcome unconscious bias. Of course, there's still much room for improvement, but conversations like these give me the confidence there is strong momentum behind positive I&D.

Roll on, 2022 placement students

Next year's students are currently applying at City to join the programme. I'll be submitting a proposal for the 2022 programme's management team this September to get the ball rolling for interviews I'll carry out next February/March to select candidates by April.

Beyond the MPP, I'll also be seeking opportunities to mentor newly recruited graduates within banks I've worked with who have likely faced a challenging period because of a lack of in-person support during COVID-19.

If you would like more information about mentorship, get in touch with Bruk Woldegabreil.

Valuing diversity through everyday inclusion