Making a difference as a mentor

Ian Newman at dinner with his mentees.

19 February 2016

Acting as a mentor this year to not just one but nine current Lancaster students, Economics and Politics alumnus Ian Newman is a shining example of alumni generosity and of the mutual benefits of mentoring.

Ian, now retired, has had an interesting and varied career which has included work in Employee Relations and Internal Communications at Royal Mail and three years working for The London Stock Exchange. Latterly, he was the Deputy Head of Internal Communication at the Department for Work and Pensions, a role to which he was promoted after 10 successful years at the Home Office.

Now in his eighth year as a mentor through Lancaster University’s Career Mentoring programme, Ian has already helped 45 students.

“I had a fantastic three years at Lancaster,” says Ian. “This is a way for me to give something back, providing current students with an opportunity I didn’t have.”

Going the extra mile

As well as providing his mentees with a clear structure of support from the very start, helping them to both set and meet their objectives, Ian also goes the extra mile: from arranging a mentee dinner at local Italian restaurant, Molly’s, to offering ongoing support after the end of the official mentoring period.

“Although the students I’m working with are only on the official programme for a year, I’ve developed an approach which provides support over the rest of the time they are at uni (and for longer) if they find it useful.”

Mutual benefits

Ian is still in touch with a number of his mentees, including the first student he mentored through the programme: English Literature alumnus Chris Davis, now Research Manager at the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College.

Describing his experience as Ian’s mentee, Chris explains: “I feel extremely fortunate to have had Ian as my mentor and I have no doubt that the Lancaster mentoring programme has helped me in numerous ways, and continues to do so. The core skills that I learnt - CV writing, how to perform in interviews etc. - and the self confidence that Ian was able to instil in me were instrumental in my securing a place on a competitive and well regarded graduate trainee scheme, which was the starting point for my career.

"In my work today, I still use the skills and knowledge I picked up on the programme. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to any Lancaster student.”

On the other side, mentors don’t just benefit indirectly through helping others: being a mentor is an excellent opportunity for continued professional development, for example by improving coaching and communication skills.

“My involvement in the mentoring programme helped me to start thinking more about my own career and has led me to make my career choices since being part of the programme. So, I can safely say that it can benefit both mentee and mentor!” says Ian.

Career Mentoring at Lancaster University

For more information about the University’s Career Mentoring programme, visit the alumni pages of the Lancaster University website.

Lancaster University Management School alumni interested in supporting fellow LUMS graduates and current students on a more ad hoc basis can do so via the online platform, LUMS Connect. For further details about this platform, please email