Following recent events that have put the Black Lives Matter movement firmly on the front pages,  people have been learning more about the inequality and unseen obstacles that people of colour face in life. As a result there has been a public outcry for businesses to step up and do their bit to make a change. As a company with black founders, Christian Facey and Wilfrid Obeng, we’re very aware of the challenges and systemic issues that can hold people from minority groups back from achieving their goals. And recently we have been able to reflect even more on our position in the market, where only 1% of venture-funded startups have black founders and more than a 1/3 of FTSE 100 firms are without board members of colour. With this in mind we felt that we should share our combined experiences from forging our careers at some of the most successful companies in the world and offer advice to the wider community to help change these statistics in the future. So we created the AudioMob mentoring program to truly walk the walk and give back in the best way we could.

Having been mentored ourselves, and having experienced first hand the positive impact it can have, we wanted to to pay it forward by sharing our own experiences and advice. Although we have always planned to instate a programme that supports the community, recent events have given us that extra push to accelerate our plans - and, just like that, our mentoring programme was born and it has been a roaring success ever since. 

What is the programme and how does it work?

Our mentoring programme is designed to offer support to black students aged 18-25 and assist them in reaching their full potential and meeting their goals. Although we would never refuse to help anyone from any background, for the reasons previously mentioned we wanted to use this opportunity to help create change. 

Our mentoring programme is a month long taking place through weekly 30-45 minute sessions and webinars for larger student groups. (Due to the pandemic these sessions are currently virtual). 

During each mentoring we offer our mentees lessons and advice on a choice of topics including: 

  • Study and interview techniques

  • Securing your first internship

  • Passing coding interviews 

  • Founding a startup

  • The importance of networking

  • Improving your soft skills e.g. presentation

  • Working at some of the world’s most successful companies

  • Effective ways to advocate for Diversity & Inclusion change

  • How to do everything noted above, with the additional context of being black

Students can select their preference between Christian or Wilfrid (or both) as their mentor in the application process as both mentor on different topics based on their professional experience. 

After completing our mentoring programme we hope to have given students the tools and encouragement to follow their passions and brave the world. Mentees are always welcome to get back in touch afterwards, should they need any additional advice. 

What results have we seen?

Since the start of the programme a mere few months ago we’ve had over 40 mentees who have shown immense improvement and fantastic results. Students have loved Christian’s honest approach to the world and his way of getting things done. They have also loved taking part of Wilfrid’s vast technical knowledge and his straightforward approach to challenges. We've also had a huge amount of word of mouth referrals from our mentees, which demonstrates how beneficial they have found the programme. 

Larry Hammer, an engineering student at Imperial College London, found out about the mentoring programme through SEO London, a UK based organisation that helps talented university students from ethnic minority or low socioeconomic backgrounds get access to career-enriching opportunities in leading industries and launch successful professional careers. Describing his experience as invaluable, Larry says he has become a lot more self-aware and empowered to go out in the world and make an impact. 

“I applied to the mentoring scheme online and I can’t stress how useful this has been. Throughout the scheme you pick up on a lot of unspoken things like the proper way to network and build relationships - which you aren’t taught at school. These soft-skills are typically distilled to public school students but not so much to state school students like me. I don’t think the value of this is emphasised enough. Finally, through my experience I’ve learned many valuable lessons. In a nutshell; I learned that I can do it.”

As both of our founders, Christian and Wilfrid, have had mentors since being teenagers, it is particularly rewarding for them to see the programme triumph, as they are now able to offer the support they once received themselves. 

We’re not done yet...

At AudioMob we know there is always room for improvement and lessons to be learnt. Starting the mentoring programme has been a huge learning curve for us too. We’ve become aware that there are a lot of capable students who are missing out on opportunities and don't have the confidence to actively reach out, and we believe this lack of networking and confidence is the result of a lacking representation. We know that with more time and resources we can continue to make our mentoring programme more accessible and continue to help people reach their full potential and goals. 

What advice would we give to other businesses?

If you’ve been thinking about setting up a mentoring programme, don’t overthink it -  just do it! There is too much knowledge in this world for it not to be shared, and it could make all the difference for just that one person. A wise person once said that “a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself”, and if all it takes is for one person to share their knowledge and experiences with someone in order for them to realise their potential, we believe we can all make time for that. 

If you’re interested in our mentoring programme head to the mentoring page on our website to view the application process.