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Real Mentoring Story: Partnerize

Jen Robson (North East Local Enterprise Partnership)

Created by Jen Robson (North East Local Enterprise Partnership), 30th October 2018

3 MINUTE READ


Will Goff, Director of US Customer Operations at Partnerize, explains how the North East LEP's Growth through Mentoring programme inspired a move overseas and a step up the career ladder. 

Partnerize was founded in 2010 and is now a leading provider of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for partner marketing. In 2017 Partnerize was named as one of the fastest-growing digital marketing companies by The Silicon Review magazine and is now trialling new artificial intelligence capabilities with customers including Marriott Hotels & Resorts and British Airways. 

Tell me about your own business background and story so far.
Thanks for the opportunity to tell my story. I’ve been with Partnerize for six years now and it's changed a lot since I joined the company. Then it was a small team of 15 people whereas now we have nearly 200 employees all across the globe. 
 
My role and responsibility within the business has evolved as the business has grown and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn throughout. Most recently, I’ve moved to San Francisco as Director of US Customer Operations. Looking at all of my time with Partnerize, it’s been a great experience and I’ve had the excitement of being part of a start-up and helping it grow to the global business it is today. 
 
Why did you decide to work with a mentor?
I’m a big believer that you can only do so much on your own. I’ve learned a lot by soliciting perspective from people who have more and different experiences to my own. 
 
We all have different strengths and points of view and I recognised the value of being mentored by someone whose life and business experience would fast track and improve my decision making skills. To really make the most of the opportunity, it was important to me that my mentor was not a friend or a family member but someone impartial, who could help me challenge the norm, change my point of view and offer advice from an objective point of view.
 
What have been the main benefits to your business of working with a mentor?
Quite simply my mentor's considerable business and life experience, insights and recommendations have fast-tracked my business knowledge base and thereby increased my value and effectiveness within the company. 
 
And what are the main benefits to you personally?
When faced with a decision I now find I often put myself in my mentor's shoes and ask, "What would my mentor do in these circumstances?" It's a simple question but the process of going through it has taken me outside my comfort zone, pushed me to think differently, do more and undoubtedly improved my vision and understanding of the possible solutions
 
I’ve recently taken this role in the US which is a new chapter both professionally and personally. When the opportunity arose I talked through my thoughts with my mentor and after we met, I went away and made the decision which got me here today. And it’s a decision I have never regretted because my mentor helped me take an informed decision. 
 
The discussion helped me to fast forward mentally into the role and recognise what was right for me. So, in a way, mentoring helped get me to the US and take a major step forward in my career.

How do you think mentoring can benefit a business that wants to grow?
When you’re in a growing business, you get great on-the-job experience but having a mentor helps you challenge the norm, identify opportunities and improve efficiencies at a much faster pace – essential when you’re working in a rapidly changing and fast paced environment. A mentorship gives you access to someone who has previous experience in similar situations and the relationship fast tracks both the individual and the business.
 
Mentors can also bring real-world experience to what works and what probably won’t, as they’ve done it before and for longer! Anything that helps a growing company get to a good decision faster should be interpreted as a competitive advantage. 
 
How would you describe the mentor-mentee relationship in three words?
Symbiotic, invaluable, unique. 

How has mentoring benefited you at work?
There are things I do now, and ways I behave which I wouldn’t have learnt without mentoring. It’s made me more thorough, more practical in how I approach challenges and opportunities and it’s opened my eyes to all the learning there is out there. It gives a level of comfort, knowing you have someone who you can bounce ideas off, and I’m so grateful for that. 
 
Would I recommend it to others? Without hesitation, it's made me more effective and I am where I am today thanks to the help of my mentor. 

How has mentoring benefited you at work?
There are things I do now, and ways I behave which I wouldn’t have learnt without mentoring. It’s made me more thorough, more practical in how I approach challenges and opportunities and it’s opened my eyes to all the learning there is out there. It gives a level of comfort, knowing you have someone who you can bounce ideas off, and I’m so grateful for that. 
 
Would I recommend it to others? Without hesitation, it's made me more effective and I am where I am today thanks to the help of my mentor. 

Want to find your own new business mentor? Sign up via our mentoring toolkit.

Sean Sewell, Co-Founder of Partnerize, explains the value of cross-company mentoring.

Tell me about your own business background and story so far
I’ve been in online marketing for 15 plus years now, starting my career in marketing and and moving into online marketing during the early days of PPC (pay per click) and affiliate marketing. Spotting an opportunity in the marketplace and identifying a potentially better way of doing things led to the creation of Partnerize. Fast forward to today and we have 200 people working across eight offices globally, we’re working with some of the world’s biggest brands including Spotify, Adidas and Nike, and we’re moving into the next phase of growth.

What first caught your interest about mentoring?
Interested in the concept of mentoring, Partnerize were one of the first businesses to engage with the Growth through Mentoring programme through mentee, Will Goff. Will’s mentoring journey enabled a conversation as to how my experience from startup to scaleup could support an earlier stage entrepreneur. 
 
A lot of businesses in the North East are now at the stage we were at three or four years ago. If we’d had access to a mentor to bounce ideas off we could have accelerated our growth as a company. we have learnt through experience and actually have a lot of knowledge within Partnerize which could help others to avoid some of the mistakes we encountered along the way. 

What do you personally gain from being a mentor?
When you’re mentoring you’re still learning. It’s a good development opportunity for anyone who’s working as a mentor as it pushes us outside of our day-to-day and makes us think in a slightly different way.  

How do you think mentoring can help a business to grow?
Interested in the concept of mentoring, Partnerize were one of the first businesses to engage with the Growth through Mentoring programme through mentee, Will Goff. Will’s mentoring journey enabled a conversation as to how my experience from startup to scaleup could support an earlier stage entrepreneur. 
 
A lot of businesses in the North East are now at the stage we were at three or four years ago. If we’d had access to a mentor to bounce ideas off we could have accelerated our growth as a company. we have learnt through experience and actually have a lot of knowledge within Partnerize which could help others to avoid some of the mistakes we encountered along the way. 

How do you think mentoring can help a business to grow?
I’ve been matched with a mentee who works in a totally different sector from me, but using a similar business model. They’re looking to build up operationally and internally as the business grows and matures and mentoring gives them confidence, even if sometimes it reaffirms what they think is the right approach. A mentor can help stop businesses making mistakes which could be costly, whether that’s in relation to hiring the right people, developing new roles or scaling internal teams – these are all things we’ve been through at Partnerize and that we can now help other businesses learn from.  

How would you describe the mentor-mentee relationship in three words?
The three words I would use are open, honest and trusting. 

Are there any characteristics or skills that you think a good mentor has?
Patience. Being able to listen as you have to really understand their business. Mentoring isn’t about instructing, it’s about listening and suggesting. Often people have the answer inside them, it just needs to be teased out.

What value has mentoring brought to your business?
It creates a better culture within our business and encourages cross fertilisation of business thinking, this is both beneficial for mentees and mentors. The opportunity to work with an external mentor psychologically creates a safer space to speak openly. A number of team members here at Partnerize have been supported by the initiative and I’m actively involved as a mentor myself. It’s definitely something I’d advocate for other businesses to get involved with. 

If you would like to find out more about how our mentoring programmes can help you, and your business grow, sign up via our mentoring toolkit today.


Jen Robson (North East Local Enterprise Partnership)

Created by Jen Robson (North East Local Enterprise Partnership), 4 months ago, [last edited 3 months ago]


Tagged under Mentor