Leadership Mentoring is Not Only Development, but Also Part of Organizational Culture

In many cases, a mentoring process is not only a professional but also a human connection, Tímea Buday Kollárik, CEO of the Hungarian Association of Executives, told Connect Magazine, who also talked about what motivates mentors to support.

The Hungarian Association of Executives has been organizing its mentoring program for years, bringing together experienced managers who are willing to share their knowledge with younger managers at the beginning of their careers.

Tímea Buday Kollárik

What is worth knowing about this program?

The idea came up about 6 years ago from the Board, but we finally launched the first program in 2019. I myself felt that it could be a highlight of the organization's activities, but I didn't expect our Manager of the Future Mentor Program to grow to this level. This was also supported by the commitment of the members of the Association to this area, as we have an unspoken cultural element of giving rather than taking from the organization. Support for young people was not an issue, as our members are experienced managers and we all believe it is important to pass on our experience and knowledge to the next generation.  

Together with our board member Zoltán Borbély and our former board member Péter Boros, who is currently a member of our Supervisory Board, we developed the framework and the program, which we have been improving together ever since based on feedback. In the pilot version, 5 mentors and 5 mentees participated in the process. We then launched version 1.0 in 2019, partly building on the feedback from this period. István Kapitány, the previous year's winner of the Association's Manager of the Year Award, was already involved in this phase, when 18 mentor-mentee pairs started working together. Since taking over as President in 2020, he has been a great supporter of the program and since then, from spring 2020, roughly in its current form, 40 pairs have been working together and promoting the program twice a year.  

During the pandemic, we reacted very quickly and launched a digital version of the spring program. In these months of restrictions, our mentors have also become more open and

potential mentees were also looking for ways to benefit and learn from this situation.

Of course, it soon became clear that the need for face-to-face meetings was much greater as opportunities opened up, with almost everyone moving from the digital platform to the real space. Since then, we have continued to assess needs while making long-term plans. We now run the mentoring program in three modules, called Manager of the Future, MasterClass and NEXT Level.

What are the key things to know about these three programs? How are they different and what are their focuses?

In the Association, we have focused on youth development in recent years, and the mentoring programs obviously serve this purpose. In terms of applications, we have found that although there are some applicants under 30 and the largest proportion of young people applying for mentoring are between 30-40 years old, there are also an increasing number of leaders over 40 who felt they had something worth developing and wanted to join the program. We developed our MasterClass program in response to this need. At this time, the cross-industry transfer of experience and joint consultation is the greatest possible help for an experienced manager. With this program, the Hungarian Association of Executives wants to support managers who are changing careers, leaving one industry and looking to develop in a new and innovative field. Mentors will be given support to rethink and develop their existing strategies and develop their own career path as managers.

We are delighted that

from autumn 2022 onwards, 30 of the 40 pairs will participate in the Manager of the Future program each semester, while 10 will participate in MasterClass.

It is also important to know that the employer can pay for the mentoring program, but of course it is also possible for the mentored person to cover the costs themselves. And for young managers under 30 years of age, we offer a scholarship each season, up to a variable quota. It's worth keeping an eye on our calls for applications, even for those who can't afford the cost of the program.

It is important for us to raise the visibility of young managers' successes, and this year for the 23rd year we will present the Young Manager of the Year Award at our Manager of the Year Gala, sponsored by DAS Legal Protection Insurance, to exemplary managers under 40. And for the fourth year running, we are also honoring talent under 30 with our Manager of the Future Special Award, this year sponsored by Foxconn. 

For the third year, we have launched our Next Level program, which provides start-ups with complex mentoring from cross-disciplinary leadership teams.

How is the selection process done and what are the pairs based on?

István Kapitány often points out, in addition to his considerable international experience, that he has never come across such a well-developed, well-functioning, large-scale mentoring program.

Even though it takes a lot of time and effort to plan, promote, and organize the program from season to season, the selection process is arguably one of the most crucial and accountable steps. The application process involves filling out a form, a cover letter, attaching a resume, and a list of competencies in which areas you'd like to develop. On our website you will find the profile of each mentor, which you can review and nominate a minimum of three and a maximum of six mentors you would like to work with, in order of preference. After reviewing the applications, we will work with the professional team to select the pairs based on the commitments of each mentor. The ability to work together is particularly important, as in a mentoring process it is essential to

have chemistry between mentor and mentee. 

Niki Seres was my first mentor in 2020, for example, between us it worked and still works so strongly that at first she supported a project or two in her spare time, and now we work closely together. Niki currently supports my work as Operations Director.

Can mentoring be part of company culture and contribute to employer branding?

It is my strong opinion, confirmed by feedback, that mentoring programs are an integral part of successful corporate cultures. 

They have a role not only in developing managerial and professional competences, but also in personal development.

I also think that internal training is very important for the development of colleagues, but external mentoring leads to a more honest, open relationship and can contribute a lot to the individual development of managers, from which the company can only benefit.

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