My mentor and me

Monday, April 26, 2021

When we caught up with Janita Sluurman in March 2020, she was a product owner for data and analytics at Eurofiber and a nominee for the RightBrains Digital Talent and Leadership awards. Since then, she’s been promoted to the Head of Data and she’s become a fervent ambassador for RightBrains, currently participating in the RightBrains Digital Leadership Programme. She recently became the COO at Datacompetent, helping people and organisations understand how data can help them.

From early in her career, Janita has proven herself to be an innovative thinker, recognising challenges as opportunities for innovation, and with hard work and dedication, she is well on her way towards a lucrative career in the digital industry. Her hunger for knowledge and enthusiasm for growth is infectious, and it is therefore no surprise that she has become a model mentee in the RightBrains mentorship programme.

Start early

“I didn’t know the process beforehand, and I think that it’s the same for a lot of people – they don’t want to approach someone to become their mentor, because they don’t know what to expect.” After being introduced to Geke Rosier, founder of RightBrains, Janita was connected to Nicola Wilton where her first request was to be taught what being a good mentee entailed: “I needed a mentor in mentoring,” she explains.

With this being Janita’s first professional mentoring experience, she has since come to recognise and advocate for the importance of having a strong professional influence from an early stage in one’s professional development: “When you start your career, you’re in a realm that you never knew before. It’s all business, people, politics, and personal development, and you find yourself asking how you’re supposed to deal with it in the right way. That is why I find it so important that everyone should have a mentor from the very start of their career.”

The reasons why people choose mentors are vast and vary widely, and there is no clear-cut recipe to follow when starting a mentorship relationship. For Janita and Nikky, this was no exception: “We approached the relationship as a project rather than a continuous mentorship. We initially met for an hour once a week to discuss my development goals and map the road to how we could achieve them, and later it became once a month,” she explains.

Celebrate your accomplishments

For Janita, her growth project was centred on building her confidence so she could take her career to the next level, building her network, developing her networking skills, and expanding her public profile on professional platforms such as LinkedIn and RightBrains: “I am not sure whether it is a female or a Dutch culture thing, but I don’t like to ‘brag’ about my accomplishments. Nikky taught me that it’s okay to celebrate my victories and tell people of my triumphs, because that is what people expect from me.”

Since starting the mentorship programme with Nikky, Janita has not only gained confidence, but also learnt the importance of having a professional network: “I never thought it would be so much fun. Meeting other professionals teaches you to be a better professional, but on a personal level it is also good to know that there is so much more out there than just your experience within your company.”

A mentor is a gift to yourself

According to Janita, having a mentor provides you with valuable support during your professional development: “It’s somebody who can guide you through whatever professional or personal problems you might be experiencing. It’s a gift for yourself, and I think everybody deserves and needs it.”

Janita’s advice for anyone wishing to approach a mentor, is to go for it and not be afraid to ask for guidance: “There is no such thing as a silly question. Ask for help, don’t be hesitant. And if you’ve connected with a mentor and he or she tells you to practise your presentation skills, for example, do it! You’re not there to not do your homework. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone or practising or going to that networking event and meeting people. Do whatever you need to do, and be engaged.”

Although this project with Nikki is coming to a close, she views Nikki as a role model for life and someone she can always turn to for advice: “When I see her mentoring people just from the goodness of her heart, and being such a confident, strong and kind woman, that is inspiring. With what little time she had available, she made a huge impact in my life and I am extremely grateful to her. Having such a role model not only helps you to grow, but also prepares you to become a mentor and give back to other people.”

Are you interested in becoming a mentor, or are you looking for an inspiring woman to mentor you through your own career development? Sign up to the RightBrains platform where we can connect you to hundreds of female professionals in the digital industry and help you reach your goals!

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or mentee in the digital field, be sure to sign up to the RightBrains platform, where you can find your perfect match!