15 prestigious directives in Spain. 15 university students wanting to eat the world; 15 innovative projects or ideas, and three months to develop them together thanks to the knowledge that the mentors will bring to their young students. So is the shadowing I, boss, a mentoring initiative promoted by the communication agency Trescom With the collaboration of multiple Spanish companies and academic entities, and the objective of promoting and making female empowerment visible in the world of entrepreneurship, still largely dominated by men.
Presented at the beginning of March at the Esade Campus in Madrid, the program has barely suffered setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, and mentors and students stay in touch a month later through videoconferences and emails. For Francisco Polo, High Commissioner for Spain Entrepreneurial Nation, “betting on equality is not only a matter of principle, but also of strategy: the data shows that companies led by women are twice as profitable, despite obtaining less than half the financing of men ”. In his opinion, “inequalities such as the gender gap, which affects 50% of the population, must be reduced.”
“The program serves to approach these girls and show them the reality, but also so that they know that it is possible, that it does come,” says Gloria Gubianas, co-founder of the sustainable fashion firm. Hemper and one of the mentors of I, boss. Juanita Bedoya, her mentor, wants to develop a brand of handbags and accessories made with denim cutouts from textile factories, thus reducing the waste of fabrics. But the projects are very varied, ranging from a platform to improve the quality of life for cancer patients (by Carla Montull) to a technology that helps children develop their soft skills (from Nur Younis) and a marketplace for future moms (by Patricia Aranda), to name a few examples.
“I think it is an important initiative for the new generations. We lack references that help to eliminate the mental limit that sometimes, as women, we impose ourselves, and that still put us in certain systems,” says Laura Nevola, CEO of IDP Pharma and another one of the mentors. “Also, working with such enthusiastic youth brings a lot of positive energy.”
A relationship with benefits for all
But what exactly does the mentoring? It is a professional accompaniment in which the transmission of knowledge is facilitated through learning with a mentor or tutor, who advises and guides another person in order to enhance their professional skills and abilities. “Any committed person, who is truly passionate about growing professionally and accelerating their potential, can benefit from such a program. This will help you learn from consolidated experience, connect with a world of new opportunities and access a network of networking ”, reveals Esther Cid, expert in mentoring digital and CEO of Tipscool, a startup of education technology.
Initiatives like Me boss They help young entrepreneurs to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to make their ideas come true. “If I had not participated in several accelerators, where excellent professionals helped us in the process of creating our company, our journey would not have come this far,” confesses Fátima Lucas, CEO and co-founder of Zymvol Biomodeling, and mentor of the program. “This is why we are aware of the importance of contributing our own experiences in the development of talented young people.”
The advice these young women receive helps them shape their project, from establishing a business plan, analyzing its economic viability and studying the potential market to defining its financial, technological and human needs, benefiting from the knowledge that their mentors possess in each respective field, and in many occasions from their network of contacts. “At first I was a bit lost, because despite having entire notebooks full of sketches and ideas, I did not know how to organize them and reflect them in a business model. Thanks to my mentor, in a matter of two weeks I was able to make a business model canvas, mock-ups, start designing the web and do a lot of research, ”says Nur Younis, one of the participating students.
But not only the students or employees who receive this professional support benefit. These programs also present numerous benefits for companies, since they not only keep them updated on current trends in their respective fields, but also “have people who inspire and are extra motivated to grow professionally, aligned with the loyalty strategy of the human capital ”, wields Cid. “The personal brand that the employee creates is generated in the company a positive value on the feeling of belonging and the specific training that each person gets.”
In most of those who engage in mentoring, there are also an underlying feeling of gratitude, of those who benefited in their day from the help of others and decide to use the accumulated experience to do the same with the new generations. “In my years as an entrepreneur, I have always highly valued the figure of the mentors who have guided me; in many ways they have been key both in learning and in different moments of support, recognizes Fátima Mulero, founder of AuTICmo and mentor of I, boss. “I believe that in the world of entrepreneurship there is a chain of favors that is very beautiful and must be maintained,” adds Gubianas. “When someone knocks on your door because they want to start their own company, from scratch, you immediately open it and you are willing to share your experience, because someone, in their day, also opened it for you.”
What does the mentor do and what does the mentor not do?
It is about guiding and helping them to get the talent they have inside, “and that perhaps no one had ever made it known to them before,” explains José Lozano, an expert in e-learning and mentor in the IEBS business school. “It is a continuous job that sometimes requires a face-to-face conversation, others online and, of course, a work plan with objectives. You have to make them see where their strengths are and where they can improve, how to focus their projects … But I don’t solve their problems or do the work for them, “he says. “I just put a mirror in front of them and say, ‘Look at you, that’s you. Maybe you don’t know yourself well, nor do you know the full potential that you have, but you must make the most of it ”.
For mentoring to be effective, therefore, one thing is needed above all: the will to learn and prosper personally and professionally. Like the students who participate in the program We create opportunities in hospitality, of the Mahou San Miguel Foundation. A social initiative developed for just over three years in collaboration with hospitality schools, social entities and the Public Administration, and aimed at young people in a socially disadvantaged situation in Madrid, Burgos and Barcelona. “In 2019, we had 70 professionals working as mentors; people who maintain constant involvement and commitment, and who also collaborate in the additional training that young people receive, offering masterclasses in professional competences and other matters of interest ”, shares Beatriz Herrera, director of the foundation.
For Gubianas, “mentoring It also serves to demystify the vision that we have of entrepreneurs of success… When I was studying, I saw women entrepreneurs as super distant, and I was convinced that this was something I could never achieve. ” But, as she herself is in charge of remembering, “power, you can”, a maxim that they are also in charge of remembering every day from Tipscool, where they have created mentoring and orientation programs for young talent focused on promoting STEAM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) among young women.
“We collaborate with companies motivated to attract female talent, and recently launched the campaign I can be, to break with gender stereotypes and that girls and girls discover that they can become what they want, through the eyes of references that we currently have as inspiring mentors: great engineers, mathematics, scientists, researchers and leading technologists of our country ”, Cid wields. And it is that, with initiatives like this, it may soon be possible to break down that “glass ceiling”, those invisible barriers that continue to prevent many women from reaching those leadership positions for which they are undoubtedly trained.