Robert Brym shares his thoughts on the RIBA mentoring programme

Falconer Chester Hall is working with RIBA to deliver its mentoring programme. We have been involved in the RIBA mentoring programme for the past four years and it’s become important part of the FCH Academy our internal programme committed to supporting the next generation of architects to drive our profession forward.

At Falconer Chester Hall we recognise that we all need support and guidance to grow and develop and to become better professionals. Mentoring has become part of our culture and we strongly believe that supporting people throughout their career will help our industry grow and develop. Mentoring brings a number of benefits to both mentees and mentors as well as the practice.

Young architects, Part 1’s and 2’s are an important part of the architectural practice. They will become the next generation, essential for growth and development.  FCH’s continued success and future aspirations rely on our younger generation and we recognise the time and effort we invest now will bring benefits in the future.

To maximise the benefits of the RIBA mentoring programme we have developed a structured approach in conjunction with the principles of our FCH Academy. We offer a dedicated mentor to every 2 students on the programme, to guide and support the mentees throughout the process to maximise the benefits of the programme.

Our mentoring strategy covers a range of professional activities ensuring the students have awareness of the responsibilities and requirements on all RIBA stages and insight into the business of architecture. We involve our students in design team meetings or workshops to introduce the concept of professionalism and collaboration.  We organise site visits and encourage participation in meetings to demonstrate the complete architectural role, outside of the office walls.

Students are also given additional time from their mentors to help them with CV writing, portfolios or University assignments. We seek feedback from participants (see below) it is encouraging and suggests that students appreciate the opportunity.

The RIBA mentor programme helped me strengthen my academic knowledge but most of all it helped me to build up confidence, and made me more familiar with the industry. It is a great eye opener and an opportunity to learn and academically grow. It has been incredibly interesting and worthwhile. This will definitely impact my career and also guide me more in future.

The benefits of this mentoring initiative are also visible in the practice. Our mentors are often young professionals and their interaction with mentees helps to build their confidence, leadership and communication skills. Through their involvement in the programme they can reflect on their experience and lessons learnt and they set new, more ambitious goals for themselves.

A successful mentor should have a relaxed, open, friendly approach and be able to listen and communicate effectively and these are the skill our staff gain through participation in the programme. It also helps to build up their professional network as often mentees and mentors stay in touch after the mentoring programme is finished. The mentors are encouraged to record the informal learning they gain from participating in the programme towards their CPD.

It is important to Falconer Chester Hall to contribute positively to the profession by combining our values with our business objectives. We recognise that the stronger we become the more room there is to give something further. We will always facilitate the culture that encourages our staff to support and contribute to the worthwhile causes and demonstrate professionalism.

We are supporting the next generation of architects to drive our profession forward, and students learning from experienced practitioners provides a crucial step on this journey.

On a personal note, throughout my professional career I have had a few formal and informal mentors that were crucial in my personal development and my learning about all aspects of the profession. With the advice given, I was able to make the right choices and improve my architectural skills. My current involvement with the mentoring programme allows me to give something back to the profession and share the knowledge and experience I have. Working with students provides a unique and invaluable opportunity to support young individuals at the beginning of their career, seeing them develop and learn from your professional experience is very rewarding.