The role of an EY Foundation mentor

Mentoring can provide crucial support when making big decisions in anyone’s life. But what does mentoring mean to you?

Mentoring can provide crucial support when making big decisions in anyone’s life. But what does mentoring mean to you? Is it having someone to run your ideas past? The confidence to ask for advice on decisions – big and small? Maybe it’s hearing about your mentor’s journey and experiences?
Whatever your answer, mentoring is a crucial part of the Foundation’s Smart Futures and Our Future programme. 

This continued element of support after the initial 6-month (Our Future) and 10-month (Smart Futures) programmes ends gives young people a sounding board during a crucial time in their lives when they’re making key decisions around their next steps.


We caught up with Alexandra Chan and David Adeniken on their mentor and mentee relationships and what they both got out of the experience.


Alexandra Chan working is a Cyber Security Associate in the Managed Services department in EY, she heard about the Smart Futures programme when she joined in 2016.


Why did you decide to get involved in the Smart Futures programme?

When I was younger I regularly spent my free time volunteering at events that benefited young people. It gives me great satisfaction to know that my efforts could potentially help those in a less fortunate position to have these experiences in life. After learning more about the EY Foundation’s Smart Futures programme when I first joined EY, I knew it was something I wanted to get involved with.



When did you first meet David and what were your first impression of him?

I first met David in July 2017 when he joined the Smart Futures programme. My first impression was how much enthusiasm, positivity and happiness he showed – along with how he towered over everyone in the room!



You were his formal mentor for 10 months. How often did you meet and what did you tend to talk about?

David and I met regularly throughout the 10 month programme. We have maintained our relationship since then by staying in touch informally. David knows he can always reach out to me whenever needed.



I believe you have continued to mentor David after this period. In what ways have you helped him?

We regularly chat about what David wants to do in later life and how to develop his career in line with his ambitions.


In June 2018, David took part in our EY Foundation expedition to take on Mount Toubkal in South West Morocco, tackling three days of mountain trekking passing through the Azzadene Valley. I have supported David in his fundraising with the help of generous donations from our Newcastle office, organising activities throughout a day and ending it with a live auction to bid on a signed Newcastle United shirt.


David’s commitment, attitude and willingness to succeed, coupled with the support of David’s school and our EY office has allowed him to experience opportunities he would not have otherwise received had he not been part of the Smart Futures programme.



What do you think David can achieve in his career?

Since Smart Futures, David has joined the National Youth Panel on behalf of EY and he has already attended multiple events. Whatever career path David decides to embark on, he will give it everything 100% with his ‘can do’ attitude and passion. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to mentor someone with so much potential.



David Adeniken was on the Smart Futures programme in 2017. Since the programme David has continued to be involved in the work of the Foundation, joining the Youth Panel and taking part in one of the challenges, trekking Mount Toubkal to fundraise for the charity’s programmes.


Why did you decide to get involved in the Smart Futures programme?

I wasn’t too aware about the world of accounting and financial services to begin with, but I was quite curious about what it entailed. I saw it as an opportunity for me to step outside my comfort zone while also experiencing something new. I was also keen to get a glimpse of what working life looks like.



Briefly, what did the programme involve and what do you feel you got out of it?

The program consisted of several different workshops, which helped improve employability skills. There were a number of challenges we took part in – for me the most memorable of these was the Dragons’ Den challenge, where we were tasked with creating and then pitching a product to several senior staff at EY.



Alexandra was assigned your mentor. In what way has she help you over the 10 months mentoring period? What are the main things she’s taught you?

I was really privileged to have had Alex as a mentor over the 10 months. I see her as more of a friend than a mentor, with her willingness to always answer my millions of questions regarding the world of work.


The biggest thing Alex has taught me is the benefits of being proactive - not just teaching it to me but always leading by example. She has taught me to take the initiative and to boldly strive for my career aspirations, and dreams no matter how impossible I sometimes think they may be.



I believe you have since joined the advisory board for the programme. What does this role involve?

Our role is essentially to provide a voice for young people at the EY Foundation, offering a different perspective and view with regards to the decisions they make. I've been finding my role extremely rewarding as I can do my little part in helping the EY Foundation grow and flourish so other young people can benefit from the same support and inspiration I also received.



I believe you’re still in contact with Alexandra who is mentoring you in a more informal capacity. How has she continued to help you?

Alex played a key role in helping me reach my fundraising target for the Foundation’s trek, where I climbed the highest mountain in Northern Africa. She organised raffles, bingo and quizzes at the EY office. With her help I was not only able to reach my target but to absolutely smash it!



What do you hope to achieve in your career?

I was stuck between going to university and entering the world of work until I found out about degree apprenticeships, seeing them as a great opportunity to experience the best of both worlds.


The help of Alex, the guys at EY, and the Foundation, has really seen me develop a new sense of confidence this year I never thought I would be able to achieve. I feel as though I am ready to take on the challenges of a working life. I am under no illusion that I still have a long way to go but I know with the likes of Alex and other mentors I won't have to face the challenges of working life alone.