Mentorship is an important component of increasing the representation of women in tech and start-ups, explains Lucy Ward, managing director of Trouva.

I’m a big advocate for mentoring, especially for women, who I believe can truly benefit from the boost in confidence good mentorship brings.

“Your mind-set and the people you surround yourself with impact how you operate in the workplace”

In industries where women are underrepresented, it is important we provide them with strong networks – both in and outside of work – so that they feel supported and have someone to turn to whatever the situation.

That’s why when Retail Week approached me to take part in their Be Inspired campaign, I wanted to get involved.

Why is mentorship so important?

Your mind-set and the people you surround yourself with impact how you operate in the workplace.

Mentoring is an asset to help guide you on your career path and overcome hurdles as they arise, whether these be with investors, a boss or your team.

At the end of the day, the path you are walking has been travelled before, so why not have someone who has experienced it guide you?

How to get the most from your mentoring experience

Above all, mentoring is a partnership – you only get out of it what you put in.

I have two fantastic mentors who have been invaluable on my journey as managing director of Trouva, an online marketplace for independent shops, where I’m working at a start-up for the first time and have to negotiate the worlds of retail and tech.

My mentors have demanding jobs, so it is crucial I use the time I have with them productively. I always go to a session with a list of things I want to ask.

Most of the time, the conversation will go off in a totally different direction, but I feel more comfortable meeting them with some idea of what I’d like to get out of the meet.

“Above all, mentoring is a partnership – you only get out of it what you put in”

I believe that mentoring should not only be people in prestigious management roles guiding juniors – younger women can mentor each other as well. On a practical level, this is key as in the tech and start-up industries there are fewer women in senior roles.

Since working at Trouva, I have made an extra effort to make contacts in the start-up world as it is great to connect with people who are often facing the same issues.

For example, the female founder of Floom is someone I can always talk to for advice on how to approach a work situation.

  • Lucy Ward is an ambassador of Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign. For further information on the initiative click here.