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Cool Mentoring: a modern mentoring scheme for the HVAC industry

“If we help another individual, we help the industry as a whole,” says Founder

| | Jul 16, 2018 | 11:32 am
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Stephen Gill

United Kingdom, 16 July 2018: Mentoring, the system of guiding a new generation of practitioners of a particular trade, has existed in a variety of industries, facilitated by the inheritance of knowledge to a mentee. This has served to cultivate excellence within practice, closing the skills gap between the experienced and the novice – a gap especially palpable within the modern engineering community. This is what drove Stephen Gill, Founder, Cool Mentoring, to develop a modern mentoring scheme specific to the HVACR industry. “We all feel if we help another individual, we help the industry as a whole,” Gill said. “If the industry is highly skilled, we will all benefit.”

The mentoring scheme started as a small-scale initiative in 2014. The idea, Gill said, was to address the downfalls of modern business organisations where, in an increasingly competitive market, proper training is not being rolled out and there is a lack of exchange of knowledge between experienced stakeholders and the new generation entering the workforce. The mentoring scheme, Gill said, also aimed to take advantage of modern communication channels, allowing older professionals to easily connect and cultivate the skills of less experienced stakeholders. “We started with 10 mentors and mentees,” Gill said. “Four years later, we have completed 300 pairings, some have mentored three or four times.”

Emphasising the global nature of the movement, Gill said, since it began in the UK, the mentoring scheme has picked up in Africa, Middle East as well as in Asia, with recent pairings in Hong Kong and China. The scheme, Gill said, lasts approximately 12 weeks allowing both parties to have specific areas of concentration, though, he stressed, often the friendship between the mentor and mentee carries on beyond this period for a lifelong exchange of knowledge and expertise.

With regard to how mentors and mentees are paired, Gill explained that the website would list the mentors’ names and profiles. “For example, a mentor would list refrigeration, energy efficiency and management as areas of expertise,” he said. “The mentees apply and put a preference who they would like, if possible, and the reason why.” Mentors and mentees can live in the same country, or in separate continents, he added.

Following this, Gill said that the application would undergo an evaluation process to ensure mentors are not overloaded as they are all volunteers and there are no fees. The mentors themselves, Gill said, go through a free training programme, to ensure consistency within the scheme. Gill stressed that there is a shortage of mentors, with 100 mentees awaiting the start of the new programme in September. “We are always on the look-out for new mentors and mentees,” Gill added that there is also a lack of women mentors, with only two globally at the moment.

Gill explained that the mechanism also allows for ‘Reverse Mentoring’ where older professionals are mentored by a younger person in relation to emerging technologies and IT-related skills. Additionally, Gill said, mentees that have shown interest also include those that are looking to get back in the industry after a significant gap in the work portfolio, for whatever reason. “If they feel they have dropped behind in some way,” Gill said, “they get in contact to get the confidence again to enter the industry.”

Currently, Gill said, the scheme runs purely voluntarily with no funding, though they look to expand soon to accommodate growing interest. He added that they are moving beyond refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps to include experts in energy efficiency and energy usage. Currently, he added, they are even welcoming architects, building services professionals and those from the energy sector to the programme. “These are the next generation of built environment professionals”. Gill stressed that beyond knowledge transfer, it’s also about conferring experience and developing the individual. Gill added that interested volunteers, as mentors and mentees, may contact him at steve@coolmentoring.org for more information.

 

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com


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