This time last year, I made a great decision. Looking for new ways to build my network amid a global pandemic, I applied for a mentee place on a scheme called Mentoring Circle, a free programme that pairs recently qualified female professionals with accomplished female leaders from across the industry for mentoring and networking events.

Kemi Oguntoye cut out

Kemi Oguntoye

A year on and I now feel, more than ever, that this kind of collaborative approach is exactly what we need to help us tackle the major issues facing us as an industry. Be it fire and building safety, building to net zero or rebuilding trust with local communities, these are very complex issues that we can only hope to address meaningfully through open dialogue and collaboration at all levels.

Like many of my cohort of mentees, I am committed to making a meaningful difference to the communities I work in. I have witnessed first hand the positive, transformative impact regeneration can have on people’s lives. My own community stood taller and prouder after the London Olympics, which brought new investment and development to the area.

Looking back at the start of my career, I was aware of other global issues and harboured a desire to be part of solving them, but I did not have the industry knowledge or tools to implement change effectively.

Lifelong learning and continuous mentoring is valuable for everyone

Having the ear of a property professional who was not only ahead of me in their career but working in a different area could have helped me find new resources and plug me into networks I may never have come across on my own.

This would have equipped me with the tools and vocabulary I needed to tackle these challenges at an earlier stage, while also propelling me forward in my career.

Collaboration is key

The perception is that mentoring is only required at entry level, but lifelong learning coupled with continuous mentoring is valuable for everyone. For mentees, fostering collaborative and cross-sector relationships at this stage in our careers, both horizontally (between us as ambitious professionals) and vertically (with experienced mentors) will mean that we, as the future leaders of tomorrow, will have a more transparent, more well-rounded outlook and a strong network behind us to help us implement change.

For mentors, some of the reverse benefits include learning new ways to solve challenges creatively, increased self-awareness, and feeling the significant accomplishment of having supported a mentee’s professional development.

It is very much a reciprocal relationship and one that can stretch beyond individual to industry level. In my own mentor, Rachel Bell, board director at architecture firm Stride Treglown, I have found a cheerleader, a role model and someone I trust implicitly to help me achieve success in my career. Through Rachel, I am learning to pay it forward too.

To anyone who loves the property industry and the role they play in it, I would urge you to consider mentoring as a way to open your horizons, break down barriers and to build better.

Kemi Oguntoye is a chartered surveyor at SAY Property Consulting