Mosaic is delighted to announce that the Mosaic Hero of the Month for April 2015 is Sadia Ahmad.
Sadia (34) from Bradford works at Highways England and is based in Leeds. Sadia’s role sees her primarily focussing on equality, diversity and inclusion and helps support the organisation to deliver against the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Sadia is a mentor on Mosaic’s Ex- Offender programme and has been volunteering at HMP Leeds (Armley).
Sadia’s employer is extremely supportive of the voluntary mentoring work she does with Mosaic. As a forward thinking organisation, they actively encourage employees to take part in volunteering opportunities and allow three working days per year towards this for all staff.
She enjoys mentoring and explains what originally motivated her become a mentor:
“I worked on a mentoring programme at my previous place of work, HM Revenue & Customs. This was as part of a Positive Action career management programme called embrace, aimed at black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees, due to the underrepresentation of BAME staff in Middle management roles. This is where my passion for mentoring came from.”
Sadia believes that mentoring is a rewarding experience and is keen to encourage others to follow her example. She said:
“I do find mentoring hugely satisfying. What has been most rewarding for me is knowing that I have positively influenced an individual who had given up on life and couldn’t see the world outside, which has so much to offer him, and the opportunities available if he wants them.”
Sadia explains that mentors play a valuable role in the community and a programme such as Mosaic’s ex-offender programme can have a huge impact on the offenders’ lives. She said:
“I have learned that there are so many talented people out there who have the potential to turn around their lives and meet their aspirations. All they need is someone to guide them along the way and help them to see that the only barrier stopping them from achieving these aspirations is actually themselves.
“Mentoring can be very challenging and prove to be a real test of character. Gaining the trust of a mentee is not easy, they have often been let down by friends, family, society and people or processes they regarded as a trusted sources. As a result of this and other factors, this often leads to a loss of confidence, tunnel vision and reluctance to take opportunities.”
Despite the challenges Sadia strongly encourages people to support Mosaic, take the opportunity to become a mentor and make a positive difference to someone’s life:
“A good mentor should be open, honest, critical and willing to give constructive feedback. If you feel you have the potential to coach and support a mentee and help them to realise their aspirations, be it work or in their personal life, then mentoring could be for you.
“As a mentor I have learned a great deal, gaining a wealth of experience and knowledge at the same time. I have also discovered so much about myself and I believe reward comes in many forms – it doesn’t always have to be in the form of money.”
Sadia was recently recognised by Mosaic for her contribution to mentoring, being highly commended for her work at HMP Armley in Leeds. She said:
“I am absolutely honoured to have received this award, and I thank Mosaic for giving me the opportunity to work with them to give something back to the community and supporting someone to making a difference to their life.”
Looking to the future, Sadia plans to keep up her mentoring:
“I will continue to support Mosaic’s mentoring programme, rising to the challenge of mentoring ex-offenders and will actively promote volunteering through my network of colleagues and friends.”
Read the full Q&A with Sadia
What motivated you to want to become a mentor?
I lead an award winning mentoring programme in the Civil Service as part of a Positive Action programme to address underrepresentation of Black, Asian & Minority ethnic staff in Middle management roles.
Within the first 7 months of the programme over 30% of the participants on the programme were successfully promoted, I realised how powerful mentoring can be and wanted to build on the success by taking the reach of the programme outside the Civil service and into the community.
Please tell us about a particular rewarding or special experience you have had as a mentor?
To be told that from just 2 hours of mentoring I had positively influenced someone who had given up on life, shut themselves away from friends and family and had no career aspirations to someone who took his first positive step in three years to turn his life around for all the right reasons.
What have you learned from your time as a mentor?
I have learned that there is so many talented people out there who have the potential to turn around their lives and meet their aspiration, but they need someone to guide them along the way and make them see that the only thing that is stopping them from meeting their aspirations is themselves.
What have you found challenging about mentoring?
Gaining the trust of a mentee is not easy, they have often been let down by friends, family, society, and people or processes they regarded as a trusted sources, and as a result of this amongst many other reasons has led them to losing confidence, having a tunnel vision and not taking advantage of opportunities and becoming disengaged.
And what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I work for Highways England as a Business Manager– My work focusses on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and supports the organisation to deliver against the Public Sector Equality Duty. I am currently part of a project team working in collaboration with our Supply chain to recruit a greater diversity of talent which will contribute to the broader business imperative to develop a more sustainable, collaborative, and innovative approach to delivering its programme of work.
Would you recommend being a Mosaic mentor to others?
Yes, I would strongly encourage people to support Mosaic and take up the opportunity to become a mentor and make a positive difference to someone’s life.
What makes a good mentor?
In my experience a good mentor would be someone who is a good listener, and role model who likes challenge. Someone who can coach and support a mentee to meet their aspirations in life, be it work or in their personal life.
I would expect a mentor to be someone who can be open, honest, and assertive and can give constructive feedback.
How do you feel about receiving your mentoring Award?
I am absolutely honoured to have received this award, and I thank Mosaic for giving me the opportunity to work with them to give something back to the community and supporting someone to making a difference to their life.
Is your employer fully supportive of your mentoring role? If so how?
My employer Highways England is extremely supportive of the work I am doing. They encourage employees to take part in Volunteering Opportunities and allow 3 working days per year towards this.
My manager and my colleagues are always keen to hear about my mentoring experience.
If there was only one piece of advice you could give to a young person to achieve success, what would that be?
Don’t limit yourself; the only thing that stops us is ourselves. We all have dreams, follow your dream and turn this in to reality. Take advantage of opportunities, and make yourself known for all the good things you do.
Any other personal reflections?
As a mentor I have learnt and gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I have learnt so much about myself and I feel reward comes in many forms and doesn’t always have to be through any financial gain.
I will continue to support the Mosaic Mentoring programme and rise to the challenge of mentoring Ex-offenders and will share my experience with colleagues, friend and family and encourage them to help change someone’s life forever.