IoIC Mentoring has been a game changer

Two-time mentee Catherine Ritchie shares how the IoIC mentoring scheme helped her career development as a consultant.

26 Jun 2023
by Catherine Ritchie

The IoIC mentoring scheme has been a game changer in helping me to switch up my career.

I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from it twice. Initially, in 2019, I worked with Pauline Boyne to make tentative steps towards my dream of moving home to Orkney as a self-employed and remote-based comms consultant.

Having an experienced comms director to bounce ideas off and encourage me to make progress against goals outside of my day job made a huge difference in preparing for a significant life change at a time when remote and hybrid working were less common.

Despite the careful planning and thought that went into getting ready, in 2020 you-know-what happened. Although I did manage to relocate that year, while continuing to support crisis comms and new ways of working in my final employed role, it wasn’t until a change of circumstances in 2021 that I fell into contracting on an interim basis.

With more than a decade of experience as a strategic comms adviser and plans to be a contractor on the horizon, this very similar, yet slightly different way of working still took some adjusting to. Knowing how beneficial my previous mentorship had been, I quickly realised how much I’d gain from the advice and guidance of someone who’d done it before. And that’s when I was matched with David Gallagher.

His support and experience as a seasoned comms contractor, and his mantra of wanting to ‘work with nice people on fun projects’, have been invaluable in helping me navigate the career changes that have made me the confident consultant I am today.

While there are more than 500 miles between us, David and I have met regularly on Teams over the last 18 months. He also makes himself available by phone and email for ad hoc questions and sense checking, and we’ve mastered the art of using GIFs to discuss career development. Even though we’ve managed to develop a strong mentoring relationship virtually, the icing on the cake was when our paths crossed in London this May, and we finally had the chance to meet.

I’d previously completed lots of fixed term contracts so was used to hitting the ground running to deliver in a role, but I’ve learnt so much from both David and Pauline about work through a self-employed lens: utilising the power of your network; looking for and securing the right opportunities; managing and negotiating offers; and most importantly, switching your mindset to realise the valuable contribution you’re making when doing all of the above, outside of the work you deliver in a contract.

Without the IoIC mentoring scheme, I’d never have had the opportunity to work with and learn from Pauline and David. I feel incredibly grateful for the influence they’ve both had on getting me to where I am today, and excited to see where my career goes from here.

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