As a company dedicated to giving everyone a voice, equity is key to everything we do. Learn about Medallia’s partnership with Future Frontiers and from our UK Medallians, who mentored youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to help make access to education more equitable.
In the UK, one of the strongest indicators of how well you will do at school and the career opportunities open to you is how much your parents earn.
At ages 16 through 18, young people face critical transition points where the decisions they make will have lifelong consequences. Too often, students from poorer backgrounds underachieve at these critical junctures — with less access to the necessary guidance, networks, and opportunities. They are four times less likely to go to university and five times less likely to get a top apprenticeship. All this means that by age 26, four in five earn below the “just about managing” threshold (at £21,000 per year), according to the same UK Department of Education report.
That is why 15 Medallians in our London office partnered with Future Frontiers, an award-winning education charity that exists to ensure young people from disadvantaged backgrounds fulfil their potential. Anne-Sika Aniambossou, Mark Dunlap, Jonathan Flint, Levon McGregor, Lionel Wong, Lisa Garthside, Manuel Cervantes, Matthew Churchill, Mehul Oswal, Michael Adonteng, Olga Tsygankova, Rajiv Singhal, Sacha Othenin-Girard, and Zoe Lambrou provided 1:1 coaching and space for these students to explore interests, discover inspiring careers and plan for their next steps.
Their impact has been tremendous — 100% of the students responded to say they agree or strongly agree with statements like “I believe that I will be able to reach a career that inspires me.” It was a true pleasure sitting down with Anne-Sika Aniambossou, a Solutions Consultant with Medallia and a Black-at-Medallia ERG (BAM) lead, who helped bring our Future Frontiers partnership to life. As you’ll see, she is a powerful example of how giving back is truly rooted in our DNA at Medallia.
Why are you passionate about mentorship?
I’ve always believed mentorship is beneficial for both mentors and mentees. I have done tutoring when I was a student and have found helping others to be really rewarding. It’s also a great opportunity to develop new skills while having a positive impact on the community.
A great thing here at Medallia is that anyone can start working on internal projects or initiatives they really care about. For me, it’s finding time to participate in activities that enhance and serve the communities in which we live and work. It can be hard to find the time to do this when we’re focusing most of our week on our job.
Following the events that affected the Black community last year, Medallia executives committed to invest more in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (also known here as DEIB) and take actions that effect real change inside and outside of the company.
I was inspired by this and wanted to bring my own contribution to these objectives, so I started to look for mentorship opportunities for our employees based in the UK. Many Medallians had expressed their willingness to participate in such initiatives and it would be a great way to multiply our reach.
What drew you to Future Frontiers?
I was looking for charities in the UK that already had a mentorship program in place. Thankfully, there are a lot of charities with such programs and I got amazing support from you (Heather Jin, Medallia’s Global Head of Social Impact) and the EMEA People & Culture team in the sourcing phase.
The main selection criteria were the audience targeted and level of effort required by Medallians for the following reasons:
There are a lot of different types of programs available in terms of content, length, and support provided and Future Frontiers appeared to be the ideal partner. They provide an out-of-the-box program and the right level of support to make it successful. The initiative was sponsored by BAM.
What was the most rewarding part of the mentorship?
Getting to know my pupil and building a relationship with them. It’s amazing to see them realize their potential and plan for their future. It was really inspirational to see how far we’ve come and how confident my pupil was with taking the next steps to pursue their dream career. It’s also great to see how sharing resources and advice can make a difference in someone’s life and boost their confidence and motivation.
What did you learn from the experience?
First, that with some work, determination and sponsorship, any of your dream projects can come to life.
I was also amazed by the level of commitment each and every coach had in the project and I know they are all busy professionals.
The mentorship program was full of learning itself, especially around how to build a relationship with a young person and understand how you can help them best.
Those learnings go beyond the mentorship program. I believe it’s important to be humble and empathetic in any interaction you have with colleagues or people around you — and be curious and get to know them. You only see the tip of the iceberg in a work environment. This really helped me grow further as a leader and coach.
How did you connect with other Medallians through the experience?
This program is usually face-to-face, with the young mentees coming to the office every week for a month to work with their coach. This wave was obviously virtual because of the pandemic, but we managed to stay connected along the way!
We all went through training together and shared our questions and learnings via a dedicated Slack channel and had a little Zoom celebration at the end of the program.
One step of the program was around organizing a call with a sector role model for our mentee. Some of us were lucky to benefit from other coaches’ networks to find those role models.
I can’t thank everyone enough for their commitment and contributions to the success of the program! I’m so proud of being able to work with great individuals who share the same values and want to dedicate some of their time — which is definitely a scarce resource — giving back to disadvantaged communities.
Any learnings you want to share for those wanting to become a mentor?
Listening is a key part of being a successful mentor. There is only so much you know about your mentee so understanding how to get them to realize their potential is key and not easy as everyone is different and has their own aspirations, doubts, communication styles, etc.
Show them you are there with open ears and no judgement. Sharing your own experiences can also help build trust in the relationship, but remember to stay focused on your mentee’s goals and objectives. This is not about you! I found focusing on the positives, strengths, and aspirations very successful too.