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Carly Hayburn: « Get a mentor, don’t have an ego, don’t be afraid to tell them your real challenges and share your goals and aspirations» (Interview)

Carly Hayburn (a bit like Wonder Woman) by day works as a Regional Manager Supervision for Santander and by night is Head of Embrace Communications (Santander’s employee-led LGBT+ network).

  •      When and how did you start looking for a mentor?

I started looking for a mentor a few years ago, however the right opportunity has never really presented itself.  I looked using the internal HR matching database initially and also considered senior colleagues that I already knew.

I eventually noticed a post from OUTstanding that had been shared across the business giving people the opportunity to be mentored by someone externally. This seemed perfect as a senior colleague had suggested that this had really worked for her and someone external would always have a different perspective which would help to broaden my own.  

I am really grateful to Santander and my line manager for giving me the opportunity to take part in this initiative and take time away from my day job. Hopefully they will see the benefit in the coming months as I continue to develop.

  • What are the qualities required to be mentored? 

I think the most important thing is to be open to feedback, coaching and development.  It is also vital that you are your true-self and don’t put on a show for your mentor, they will see through it.  It’s also important to be prepared with things to discuss and ideas on how best they can support you in achieving your goals. Their time is precious so don’t waste it.


  • How have you benefited from mentoring?

I have benefited immensely in a very short period of time; my mentor asks amazing questions that really challenge me to understand why I think and feel something.  She has also given me really practical advice in terms of dealing with senior colleagues, how to present myself and my views in challenging situations and looked at broader short- and long-term goals.  She shares her own challenges and experiences freely which has really helped us in terms of building trust.


  • What was the best advice your received from your mentor(s)?

My mentor has been amazing, I have been so humbled by how willing she is to give up her time to help a total stranger.  In a relatively short time, we have been able to develop a very open an honest conversation.  Very quickly she identified ways she could help me and through discussion and gentle challenges she has really given me a very different perspective on things. 


At our last meeting she said to me “don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s important that you are kind to yourself”.  On reflection, I think this is a great piece of advice and something I won’t forget, it’s very easy to be self-critical and get tied up in what you could have done differently rather than consider what you did well.

  •   Do you think mentoring can help boost one’s career? How?

I’m not 100% sure about this as ‘boosting’ my career wasn’t my aim.  I do think however it can support you to be the very best version of yourself which is vital if you do have career aspirations.  Mentoring can also build your confidence enormously which can really help to boost you both personally and professionally. 

  • What advice would you give to future mentees?

Get a mentor, don’t have an ego, don’t be afraid to tell them your real challenges and share your goals and aspirations. You don’t need to impress your mentor – it’s not a job interview!  Remember to thank them and consider how they may benefit from a relationship with you.

  • Did you look specifically for an LGBT+ mentor? If yes, why?

No, I didn’t consider this.  Conversely my mentor had signed up to an LGBT+ mentoring programme which made a huge difference to me, as I immediately didn’t have the anxiety of needing to come out or wonder if I would be judged because of my sexuality.

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