Advancing Life & Work

Mentoring - a key component of your strategic career toolkit

HP20150615024 - Copy.jpg


Alena Sapundzhieva,  leader of the HPE mentoring program shares her thoughts on how mentoring benefits both the mentor and mentee in their career journey.  The blog below was written by Alena.

When I started writing this blog post, I gave a deep thought on what image I could possibly draw to illustrate the mentor-mentee relationship. As a devoted hiker, quite expectedly, what first came to my mind was related to my adventure experiences. There is a part of a hiker’s equipment called head torch. You put in on your head and you can easily walk in darkness directed by the ray of light coming from it, while having your hands free. It is a great tool, however, it gives you a limited view. Imagine there is a person walking next to you, who has a head torch on his/her head as well and has already walked this route a couple of times. What happens is that you not only broaden your view immensely, but this person can also point out to tricky parts on the route that can lead to errors, show you alternative roads you may miss while looking at your feet or another direction, and let you decide for yourself which one to take. This person also encourages you to reflect on your pace and increase your self-confidence, because you have right next to you someone to support you.

What should be noted, though, is that by walking side by side, the experienced person also benefits – from the alternative angle of light and from the different perspective and perception – because everything changes and the route walked before might offer unexpected new views with time.

Mentoring can be divided into many categories, the first of them being formal vs. informal.

  • Informal mentoring is something we get at one point or another in our lives – it might be a parent, a friend, someone you share common interests with. It has less structure than the formal one, can last a long time and is more of an emotional commitment. I have had an informal mentor in the past, a colleague and a friend of mine and I have to say such a relationship can be extremely fruitful. In order for it to be proudly labelled such, though, one should be open (I’d say sometimes to the point of feeling vulnerable) – to constructive feedback, to a different mindset, to admitting his/her own weaknesses and strengths, be frank and willing to develop.
  • Formal mentoring is the nature of HPE Inclusive mentoring program. It is structured and limited in time. It also brings people together on the basis of compatibility – when mentors/mentees apply, they fill in an application form with their areas of interests, experience, skills they want to develop etc. This is followed by a matching phase where people are connected based on their applications.

The program is then divided into:

  • Open mentoring – open to all employees, supporting and developing in general and nurturing a positive growth culture;
  • Reverse mentoring – open to executives and millennials. This is mentoring in its more unusual form, but it promotes cross generation learning which otherwise cannot be easily obtained;
  • Diversity mentoring – mentoring focused on gender diversity.


Many people ask themselves: “What’s in there for me in this program?”. Here is what a past mentee from the  Alexander Tsukev, has to say about it:

“I wanted to be able to talk to someone who didn’t know me, the work I am doing and the interests I have. I basically wanted to have a fresh pair of eyes and get first-hand experience from someone who can provide me with alternative ways of approaching things in my work and discuss real life situations. I definitely learned lots of things I am going to apply in my work. Mentoring does not have to be a formal process, it can simply follow the parameters agreed between the mentee and the mentor. In my case my mentor and I managed to set the right expectations and promote a practice of active listening. Anything shared took the shape of advice rather than a rule from a handbook. I recommend it with no reservations whatsoever to everyone as it establishes above all a good professional relationship and prompts you to search for constant improvement.”

Mentoring first and foremost is a relationship between 2 individuals. And as with every relationship, we should always remember that it takes two so that it can thrive. Each person has their share and each person should be willing to walk a mile in each other’s shoes.

About the author

Alena Sapundzhieva, Planning Operations Team Lead at HPEAlena Sapundzhieva, Planning Operations Team Lead at HPE

Alena Sapundzhieva is currently the Communications Liaison of the HPE European Women's Leadership Council (EWLC) which powers the Inclusive Mentoring Program.

She holds Bachelor’s degree in English Philology.

Alena joined HPE in 2014 and is currently Global Planning Team Lead in the GSD Supply Chain Organization. 

Explore HPE Careers and start an exciting professional journey!




Susan Graye
0 Kudos
About the Author


Talent Acquisition and Attraction