Interview with Vidyadhan Sponsor -Dr Parasuram Balasubramanian ( Founder and CEO Theme Work Analytics)
Why is mentoring important? And why did you choose one-on-one mentoring?
Each one of us has many goals and ambitions. Often there is a lack of information or too much information causing confusion on which goals to pursue. Definitely, if someone has walked the path ahead of us, we can learn from such a person. First and foremost, it gives us the confidence that what we are thinking is right and achievable. We can also find many detours while walking and a mentor can help which one to take and which one not to take. This guidance we get from someone who has experience is a great help in life.
I have been participating in this process because I do believe that I benefited immensely over the years, being mentored by many, many people during my college and work periods. These mentoring sessions have been at home in India and away in other countries, have happened formally and informally. They have helped me grow not only professionally in my career but also as a person. Often, we make decisions and keep wondering if the decision is right. We cling onto them as we don’t have the option to revert. Still, commitment is not 100%. In such a situation, having a mentor is of great help. As I mentioned, I have been a beneficiary of mentorship and mentors throughout my life, and the least I can do is to do the same for others.
Personal Experience interacting with Vidyadhan Scholars.
It has been extraordinary. Over the last 20-30 years, the nature of interactions has changed. As the internet, mobile phones came into play, more and more interactions started happening through videoconferencing and telecommunication devices. What Covid taught us was how to leverage this medium to the very best. However, many messages I send out through mass communication, they are not equivalent to one-on-one interactions. It is of great value for a mentor to know the attributes of who he is committing to and then participate in their growth. And, similarly, for mentees too one-on-one sessions hold immense value. I believe trust develops in this process and they are encouraged to communicate openly even more. So, one-on-one sessions are very useful. It’s true that face-to-face sessions are superior to online sessions. But given that we are spread out all over the country, it is just not possible for all of us to keep travelling and meeting. Hence, I’m glad that Vidyadhan chose and pitched this medium so that we reach out to all mentees.
How do you think students leverage mentorship?
First and foremost, mentorship as a concept is wonderful because mentees get wisdom by interacting not with one person but with many. Many people give them general advice, but a mentor can make it a lot more specific because he keeps in touch on a long term basis and understands family circumstances, financial background and mentees personal interests/skillsets; so, mentorship sessions are useful to create a trust-based long-standing relationship. Mentees gain a lot by choosing appropriate mentors for themselves and continuing to have long-term relationships with them.
How do you want to further take forward this mentorship program?
One-on-one sessions have been held with 30 odd students. We were able to understand what their special requirements are and specific issues they have, how we can help sort out these issues. Then become clear. Many of those issues do not seem generic. We are able to help them on specific issues and many times bring other experts into the network and put them in touch with them. We can identify data and sources which are specific to their needs. Hence, I do believe that the one-on-one sessions, action items that have emerged and the follow-up plan on an ongoing basis are of great value to everyone involved.
Share experiences with other sponsors, potential mentors on how online mentorship systems can work. Vidyadhan has hundreds of such mentors who all truly care for their mentees. So, if we share sessions and experiences with them it will encourage them to go ahead and establish meaningful relationships with mentees. Give assurance and support and bonding necessary between mentors and mentees. Here, there is a phenomenal role being played by the Vidyadhan team and it comes as a big help to all the mentors.