Alumni Mentors help WWF improve skills and strategic thinking, case study

WWF Alumni Mentoring, PandaThroughout 2018, 150 staff from across the globe have joined WWF’s mentoring programme, with people from Africa, Asia, Europe, the US and South America. In order to fulfil the demand from mentees, WWF took the innovative step of contacting 20 former employees to use them as Alumni Mentors.

Following good experiences with Alumni mentors in pilot in 2016, Coach Mentoring Ltd has assisted WWF in planning the Alumni Mentoring project and guided WWF through this novel approach to mentoring. Specifically, “Mentoring for Practices” was tailored to build technical knowledge relevant to WWF’s work while also allowing personal development. It gave special attention to support quick learning ‘on the job’ while also encouraging innovative thinking and bringing in external perspectives via WWF Alumni.

“WWF Alumni have invaluable knowledge, experience and expertise on issues relevant to WWF as well as a unique internal and external perspective on the organisation and how we might move towards these goals. The external perspective can also help WWF staff to become more aware of external trends and to integrate this in our own thinking and work.”
Helma Brandlmaier, Knowledge Manager WWF

Quotes from Alumni Mentors about their experience in the 2016 Pilot

“It was great to be in a position where I could benefit others from what I had learned with WWF and elsewhere in my career. I was reminded of how tough it can be when getting started in a career and that experience will help me to support others more, as well as reminding me that I have a great deal of knowledge and experience that others can draw on, and that I should not hold back in offering that!”
Jenny Heap, Independent Consultant/Associate Director twentyfifty Switzerland

“I think that this programme has the potential to really help Mentees to better understand their function within WWF, to obtain advice and information well adapted to their short and long term professional challenges, and (if the experience proves successful) to know that a senior (ex-) WWF staff is there to listen and to help”.
Jean-Pierre d´Huart, CEO at Conservation Consultancy Services

2016 Alumni Pilot

“As a former member of WWF College it was a pleasure to participate in the pilot…. For me, most of the people who worked for WWF around the world have much to contribute and are still engaged with the organization’s values and mission. Using this critical mass to inspire the current staff is a very good decision.”
Joao Goncalves, João Gonçalves, SiBBr Head of Communication/UNEP Consultant

“The Mentoring programme helped me to develop my knowledge transfer capacities and acting as a better trainer. I sincerely suggest the programme for both Mentees and Mentors, who are open to share knowledge and experiences.”
Zoltan Kun, Wilderness Advocate

“The programme was a unique opportunity to gain insight into WWF’s work through the eyes of someone living and working on another continent, still facing similar issues. It was a very valuable experience, professionally as well as personally!”
Johannes Naimer-Stach, Marketing and Sales Manager

Quantitative Assessment of Mentees and Mentors

In the 2018 Mentoring for Practices programme, a small sample of mentees completed a self-evaluation assessment both before and after their mentoring engagement. Each had a significantly more positive judgement of their work skills at the end of the programme. Overall:

  • The evaluation showed overall a high level of usefulness of the programme for the Mentee
  • The self-evaluation at the end of the programme consistently showed increased confidence and more motivation by participating Mentees
  • There is also a trend for more active integration of WWF cultural behaviours (strive for impact, listen deeply, collaborate openly and innovate fearlessly)
  • The Mentors seemed overall very happy and satisfied with their participation in the programme, the support they received and the benefit they got from it themselves

Qualitative Assessment, quotes from mentees:

“Having a mentor for me was like reflecting on myself and becoming confident because I got advice on developing strengths and overcoming my weaknesses”
Bhawana Kafley, Program Associate, WWF Bhutan

“The Mentoring Programme is a start-up to open my gate and unlock my mind to seeking both technical support and mental support from the network and other Pandas. We shall thank all the mentors for their time and braveness to support this programme”
Sudarat Sangkum, Forest Project Manager WWF Thailand

Mentee quotes

“The programme is an opportunity for both mentor and mentee to learn, share ideas and grow. When rooted in openness, confidentiality and honesty, there are no limits to what can be achieved”
Chanda Mwale, Project Officer, WWF Zambia

“I put great value to having been given this opportunity to be engaged in a wonderful mentoring relationship. I have drawn great insights from this interaction, and I have learned a lot. Thank you for making this possible, and thanks also to my great mentor!”
Tanja Ploetz, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Agriculture and Land Use Change, WWF Germany

Qualitative Assessment, quotes from mentors:

“The mentoring programme gives me an opportunity to learn more about a colleague in a different field and office. WWF is a huge family with a lot knowledge and expertise, I feel this programme is one of many ways to reduce silos between colleagues and learning from others to be able to see issues and opportunitesfrom different perspective. It is also opportunity to gain experience on building a professional relationship virtually.”
Juan Hendrawan, Global Fundraising Specialist, WWF International Global Development Centre

“My first experience as a mentor was hugely positive. This was great for my own personal development, I received a really good training and toolkit and feel that together with my mentee we really made progress together… Someone I will surely keep in touch with.”
Damian Fleming, Director of Conservation Programmes, WWF-UK

Mentor quotes

“Through coaching both mentor and mentee grow visibly; is a strong asset of our global network to feel personally connected across borders.”
Daphne Willems, Global fresh water expert, WWF Netherlands

“Building trust and trusting is a key in success and the programme assists with this. Nobody can succeed alone. Organisational success is only together possible!”
Liisa Rohweder, CEO WWF Finland

“The WWF mentor programme as a two-way process helps contributing to better respond on our conservation challenges through improving the management skills of both the mentee and mentor”
Zoltan Kun, European Wilderness Officer, FZS (WWF Alumni Mentor)

“It is enriching to obtain a different perspective and great to empower young people to reflect and grow in their work”
Sabine Krueger, Director Children and Youth Programme, WWF Germany

“This is a great opportunity to feel connected to the global network of WWF, and leverage on it for leadership development.”
Hui Shim Tan Head of Planning, Development and Monitoring + Co-Lead, XFire Innovation Challenge WWF-Malaysia

Alumni mentors assist in developing current employees

This programme is particularly unique in its use of Alumni mentors. Alumni mentors are also being considered by other organisations as an excellent way to increase their bank of mentors. This model transfers key specialist knowledge and skills specific to their organisation which are not generally found in the open labour market. Additionally it can help expand the mentee’s networks and collaboration with external partners and further increase their organisation’s Alumni network.

Coach Mentoring Ltd continues to support WWF (see WWF Mentoring Ambassadors, 2021 case study) in developing their employees through mentoring and coaching programmes.

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This entry was posted in Mentoring and tagged , , by Jacki Mason. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jacki Mason

Jacki is Operations Manager and Consultant at Coach Mentoring, and has experience of designing, developing and delivering over 50 mentoring programmes since 2002, many of which have been women only programmes. She has delivered gender diversity mentoring programmes to increase the entry of women onto public boards, to support members of professional bodies at all levels in their career development, internal programmes within universities and colleges, programmes aimed at women returners, and developed online mentoring materials for young apprentices in SET careers.

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