Victor Davies, an IT manager says mentoring has given him valuable experiences and insights that he will use with his own son when the time is right. Here he explains how being a mentor has had a positive impact on him.
Victor, you’ve been mentoring 11 year old Leon* for the past 4 months. What do you most enjoy about being his mentor?
I get a great sense of satisfaction when my mentee looks to be turning a corner, or actually starts to understand what he needs to do to reach his goals. When we started his mentoring program, we laid out a set of measurable and attainable goals. It’s very rewarding seeing changes in your mentee as a result of the program and when a parent tells you their child has really improved and is doing well at school, it makes it all worthwhile.
Why did you decide to volunteer for Urban Synergy?
When I joined Urban Synergy, I had just become a father for the first time and realised how important my input will be in making sure my son grows up to achieve his full potential. It also struck me that many young boys and girls might not have a positive role model in their lives – someone who could advise them and be a role model and mentor.
I also felt I could learn a lot from mentoring a young person, as it would help me when my own son reached that age. As much as I hope I give to my mentee, I am also learning a great deal from him.
As an IT Manager for a private equity firm in London, you have a demanding job and are also married with a young son. Why do you make time to mentor?
I recently started a new job and you’re right – I am busy but isn’t everybody! I became a mentor because I wanted to give back to my community in some way. As the old saying goes: ‘to whom so much is given much is required…’ My father passed away when I was young and were it not for my mother raising me in the right way and having ambitious and hard working friends, I may not be in the favourable position I am in today. I want to help Leon realise that he does not have to be an entertainer or a footballer to be successful. Helping him confront any negative misconceptions he may have and showing him that anything is possible is something that I enjoy doing and I make sure I find the time to do it.
What types of things you do with your mentee?
I try to make the activities as varied as possible such as bowling, cinema, playing computer games, board games such as chess and then there are times we just sit and talk. Where one week we may have a chat about his week, sports, and personal issues, another week we may get something to eat or do something else but I try to make our time together instructive and positive.
Any highs and lows so far?
When Leon was not doing well at school, there was a time where I was starting to think all my advice was going in one ear and out the other. But as I said to his mum, “Rome was not built in a day” and we would just have to keep on going until he finally understood what we were trying to do. The high was when he actually told me how well he had been doing in school, not getting involved in any trouble and his teachers where very happy with his progress. His mother was also very pleased with his behaviour at home. I am very proud of him for really trying hard to change his behaviour.
What have you learned since becoming an Urban Synergy mentor?
Have patience, patience and then more patience! Young people have to deal with peer pressure and I feel it’s one of the biggest problems they face. Even if they know what they are doing is wrong, they will sometimes want to look cool in front of their friends and make the wrong decisions. I try to be very patient and not constantly preach at Leon. Using a more gentle approach and letting him know that I never give up on him is an approach that works well for me and we seem to be getting very good results so far.
If there was only one single piece of advice that you could give a young person, what would it be?
Be a leader and not a follower. Peer pressure is one of the biggest reasons young people get into trouble. Most know right from wrong but sometimes looking good or cool in front of their peers can take precedence. I tell Leon that being your own man and being strong enough to make your own decisions is one of the keys to becoming successful in life.
My second piece of advice is to work hard and be dedicated in whatever field you choose to go into; you have to give it your all.
What would you say to other people considering mentoring a young person?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far being a mentor. It has been one of the most important and rewarding things I have done. The chance to shape a young person and hopefully help him grow up to become a valuable member of society is one which I truly appreciate and I encourage other people to get involved. My hope is that once Leon has reached his own milestones for success, in time he will similarly give back to others by becoming a mentor to other young people.
*Name has been changed
Edited by Claudia McKenzie, Urban Synergy