I really didn't think at the beginning of the journey back in November that I would write today some four months later that the journey that I and seven others have taken as a Pathfinder Group has been transformational. But I find myself saying exactly that.

The task that was set for the Pathfinder Group was to define what being a Professional Business Mentor is, creating a qualification to suit and designing the pathway to achieve it. I knew it would lead to something good, and what it actually led to is the promised land, the holy grail of understanding the true meaning of professionalism in business mentoring and coaching. This journey has allowed us to collectively explore so many challenges that has led, for me, to a whole new level of business mentoring. I soon realised this wasn’t about the qualification but about the journey of deeper understanding and realisation of what it meant to be a mentor or coach in business.

Working together, with passion, respect and integrity, we have challenged every thought as to what we do as mentors. We have questioned the words professional and professionalism. At times we didn't agree, but not agreeing is healthy, because it brings out what really matters to get a better understanding of what business mentoring actually is. We had a huge mandate from the Executive Team back in late summer and that was to deliver the professional qualification in business mentoring and coaching. I truly believe we are on the pathway to do that and that this is really something special.

In challenging and questioning our understanding, it has led to a deeper, much better, much clearer understanding of what business mentoring is. Simply put is to say that business mentoring is coaching plus. We realised that coaches can't mentor but mentors can coach and the realisation for me, and this is probably where it's been transformational is the fact that I never called myself a coach because I didn't believe I was a coach, I was a business mentor, and I brought all my experience, knowledge, pain, scars and grey hair into the room when I met a client and I used that to help them develop who they were as a business person.

Having taken the initial steps on the journey that is the professional qualification is to understand that I/we don't have to call ourselves coaches to be a coach we don't have to call ourselves coaches to be mentors but what we must realise we absolutely use coaching skills in our mentoring sessions with our clients and that for me has been transformational.

As a result of our work exploring the member journey, I now have a much greater understanding of the actual purpose of the ABM. It is the responsibility of every member of the Association to make sure they are professional in what they do. And it is the purpose of the ABM to help facilitate that journey of continuous learning. As we are a professional Association, we must have a desire to ensure and help our members to be at the top of their game and encourage members to want to be at the top of their game; that is our differentiator in the marketplace, and it can be each member differentiator too.

Our members are experienced in business, that’s a given, and each member commits to continuous learning at the time of applying. It is the ABM’s role to ensure high quality professional training is offered, and if they choose, leading to accreditation and qualification. I am extremely proud to have and continue to work with the seven people on the Pathfinder group. The ABM is on the brink of something special. Many prospective members I speak with show great interest when I mention the professional qualification.  

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council are interested in speaking with us. The ILM want to report the outcome of our work in their journal. A University wants to write a paper on our work.

If we get this right, we can set a solid foundation for the future of the professional standing of the ABM. That future could, in 10 years’ time, allow us to become a chartered Association; that's a fantastic vision, a vision that our Founder Kerrie I'm sure would be proud of.

But it's not about having chartered status, it's not about having a certificate in fact it's not about having a qualification… it's about the fact that we as an Association stand for professional and the setting of minimum standards in business mentoring and coaching.  

With the ILM Level 5 level 7 we are giving each member an opportunity to become accredited qualified professional business mentor with a badge if they so desire. This opportunity that we have now will send a clear message to the business support landscape, that we are a serious organisation. We will not stand by and ‘allow’ just anybody to call themselves a business mentor. If they wish to use that term they should belong to a professional Association and we are the only professional Association in the UK that represents professional business mentors.

But as I said it's not about wearing a badge; it’s about making sure that every member commits 100% to continuous learning and that we the ABM evaluates and monitors that continuous learning by supervision or audit.

The members of the Pathfinder Group have been an amazing group of talented professionals to work with, who, together have created what we think is the journey of an ‘aspiring’ business mentor and the learning journey of an experienced mentor who wishes to join. We welcome your comment and feedback on the exciting journey so far.

Simon Fordham



The Association of Business Mentors is registered in England and Wales under company number 7533326 at The Nest, 12-18 Sampson Street, London, E1W 1NA
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