10 October 2017
The power of mentoring
The relationship between a mentor and mentee is built on mutual trust, respect and communication. Offering guidance and encouragement for junior employees, gaining exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking and fostering a culture of growth and leadership for senior employees, the relationship is rewarding for both.
We heard from a recent graduate and his manager, at the Sohar Refinery Improvement Project in Oman, who explained the benefits of mentoring…
Mohamad Muhieddine, Engineer II – Projects
“After studying mechanical engineering at the American University in Beirut, I graduated in 2014 and joined Petrofac aged 22.
“Antoine was the delivery manager when I first started, and I met him in March 2015 after my initial training programme. Even though it was just the two of us, the first thing he said to me was “Welcome to the team!”
“He’s my manager but he doesn’t treat me like his subordinate. We meet socially, we play or watch football together. We’re both from the same area of southern Lebanon; if two people are working for the same company, living abroad, and are from the same country, there will always be an instant connection.
"The transition from Lebanon to Oman was a big step for me and, of course, the work is very different from the university world of study, theory and exams. Coming to Petrofac meant getting to do some actual mechanical engineering and I couldn’t wait to get going on a real project.
“The small age difference between us means Antoine was where I am only a few years ago and he makes me feel that we are on the same level. He guides me, from how to approach a meeting to how to deal with emails, passing on these valuable small tips which he has learned himself.
“As my manager and as my mentor and friend, Antoine doesn’t give me false promises, but explains the sequence of things and gives me advice. He is very practical and he keeps me grounded.
“He’s also a real advocate for me. I always make sure I do my job properly, but he has allowed me to be in the picture and to feel valuable here. There are 15,000 people on site and yet, two or three months after I joined, the management knew me, because Antoine had put me on the frontline and let me shine.”
Antoine Salameh, Senior Project Engineer
“I met Mohamad about six months after he started at Petrofac, following his initial training and when he was first assigned to Sohar. As his supervisor, we’re in daily contact on the project and the mentoring relationship has developed in parallel to the working relationship.
“There are only a few years between Mohamad and myself and I have clear memories of what it’s like to be new. When I was working on my first project, in Abu Dhabi, my managers gradually gave me new and additional responsibilities so I could develop and start to build my managerial skills. Having those experiences fresh in my mind helped prepare me for mentoring someone else; I know what got me going when I was new to Petrofac, and I use that with Mohamad to encourage him.
“I conduct Mohamad’s quarterly assessments, which are part of the graduate academy structure. We take those opportunities to discuss his career, talk about his achievements and where he is, and any concerns he has. I’m there for him and am ready to address any issues and answer his questions, whether professional or personal, and we talk on the job or after working hours. Our interaction is daily in the workplace and we also meet socially; it’s more than an employer/employee relationship and it’s whenever the moment is there.
“Being a mentor is probably not for everyone; you have to want to do it and understand why you’re doing it. You need to be a good listener and a good role model, because being a mentor highlights every aspect of your own behaviour. You need to think about how you conduct yourself, how you respond to others and how you react to different situations, because the ‘mentee’ will be watching and learning from you. Mentoring also helps me develop my own managerial skills, and I find it very rewarding.
“Watching somebody grow and develop, from very early on in their career to taking on big responsibilities, is very satisfying and makes me feel proud. I feel I’ve played a part in who Mohamad is now. We’re friends as well as colleagues and, wherever our respective career paths take us, we’ll always remain in close contact.”