DramEd – a mentoring partnership story

5 min read

 Grace Francis is the founder of DramEd, a creative education company, supporting schools and nurseries to make performing arts accessible and fun. Her mentor Laura Carey is a specialist mentor for students at universities who suffer with mental health problems.
Grace Francis, Founder of DramEd
Mentee
Laura Carey, Director of JusRose
Mentor

I only began my mentoring journey this year, which started with a paid mentorship that I quickly realised wasn’t right for me. I then found out about this fantastic mentoring programme and met Laura, a mentor who is perfect for where I am in business and life right now. I love our mentoring relationship and what it has offered for me and so I’ve decided to do my bit and pass the baton on – I now take the learnings from this experience and mentor someone who runs a children’s activity business. My entire experience on the Santander Breakthrough has shaped who I am as both a mentee and now a mentor.

I worried about being matched with someone who is quite different to me. Not necessarily regarding our professions, but more so around upbringing, cultural background and personality. I had a mentor recently who had a fee for his mentoring service, he happened to be a white man with life experiences very different to mine. Whilst I learned valuable lessons from him, there were great differences in our lived experiences that stood in the way of our ability to achieve the kind of progress I wanted.

Grace

I’m a mentor by training and trade, so I’m not new to this field of development. Grace has helped me realise, however, that I, too, need a mentor. I’m so grateful that this experience has helped me discover being mentored and so I’m now receiving my own guidance on how to grow my business and maintain momentum throughout all the challenges that Covid-19 has presented.

I worried about potentially having a personality clash with my mentee and the possibility that this could hinder our ability to make good progress. As soon as I met Grace, I realised that this fear was completely unfounded and we immediately clicked. Our working styles suit one another, and we have so many similarities which means that our mentoring sessions are easy and enjoyable.

Laura

DramEd

Laura and I are very similar, and have lots of commonality within our lived experiences. For example, we are both working mums, and I find our conversations about this absolutely invaluable. Laura has also been so generous with her time, enabling me to drop her a message on WhatsApp and accommodating me at all hours. Her generosity, friendliness and relatability meant that all of my worries disappeared.

My highlight of the mentoring experience so far has been the way we have both developed a podcast at the same time. We realised that we both had the ambition to do it, but just needed that push from one another. Laura has since invited me on her podcast to talk about juggling motherhood and running a business.

Grace

The highlight of my mentoring experience so far has been seeing Grace grow in confidence as time has gone on. It’s fair to say that she struggled with low self-esteem and imposter syndrome at the beginning of the programme, but she has blossomed and gained masses of confidence as we have progressed.

Also, Grace can bring as much to the table as I can, and it’s been so fantastic to have our mentoring partnership not as a hierarchy of power, but simply as a transfer of ideas between equals. It really is a perfect example of reverse mentoring – I see a lot of myself in Grace, and I think she does in me and so its so easy working together.

Laura

DramEd

Since being on the mentoring programme, I really think I’ve made leaps of progress with my business. I’ve become more of a go-getter and I think that is a consequence of having the space to bounce ideas off Laura. I’ve also finally published my children’s book, which is a concept that I had in my head in May, and managed to publish in June – a time-frame that feels unbelievable. I’m confident that being in Laura’s space and having her support is what has enabled me to achieve so much over the past few months.

The one piece of advice I’d give myself if I were starting the mentoring programme again, would be to tell myself to reach out to Laura earlier and make the most of being able to be together. I’ve realised that we never have to do things alone; no man is an island.

Grace

There have been so many benefits from this programme for me, such as developing my podcast, growing my network in peer-to-peer sessions, being a part of a mentor’s WhatsApp group to chat and connect, growing my network on LinkedIn and putting myself out there to be open to new opportunities.

The only thing I’d do differently is tell Grace earlier that she can contact me at any time at all. I should’ve said it from our first meeting, because I think the flexibility of our partnership is what has made it so successful.

Laura

Case studies

DramEd – a mentoring partnership story

DramEd is a creative education company, supporting schools and nurseries to make performing arts accessible and fun.