Alma’s International Mentoring Program boosts managerial competences and offers sparring to the everyday life

Alma has succeeded in its transformation from traditional print media to an international company providing digital services. This journey has also required continious development of everybody’s competences and keeping our skills up-to-date. Alma Medians are offered a wide range of opportunities for development, including mentoring, online courses, and in-house training.

Popular mentoring programs have also been organised in Alma’s business units. In the Finnish units, mentoring has also been utilized among managers. The experience has been so encouraging that there has been a growing desire to extend these managers’ mentorships to other countries as well.

In 2021, mentoring program for Alma managers went international for the first time. The purpose of the program was to connect Alma’s managers to share their own experiences and know-how related leadership and managerial tasks. Mentoring is one of the best ways to develop oneself and help others in their unique developmental paths.  

The practical implementation steps

A total of 30 managers from four different countries participated in the 2021 international mentoring program. They were paired up in 15 pairs based on their applications.

“At HR, we aimed to connect the pairs best suited from the perspective of expectations and development needs. Further, we wanted to enable working across countries so that everyone would get a colleague outside their own countries. Apart from one pair, this also happened,” says Alma’s People Development Lead Joni Mäkinen.

The mentoring program ran until the end of 2021. It started in April 2021 with a kick-off meeting introducing, among other things, the principles of successful mentoring. Based on their own development needs, each pair was to form an agenda for their future appointments. Following the official program, pairs stay in touch and continue sparring with each other should they choose so.

Mentoring provides valuable peer support to managers

Based on the managers’ feedback, the favourite part was the networking with a colleague from outside the team. Being able to discuss, share one’s own thoughts, and ask for an opinion from a colleague who is working in a similar role, has been perceived as particularly valuable.

Croatian Vanda Lugarov, Head of HR of MojPosao company, was among those who participated in the 2021 mentoring program. She was paired with Alma’s CEO Kai Telanne.

Telanne says that as mentoring sounded interesting, he participated in the program.

“I participated because I wanted to share my experience of business management with younger people. At the same time, I wanted to learn myself – by reflecting what I heard,” Telanne says.

Lugarov and Telanne have met on monthly basis for about an hour and a half at a time. Lugarov is convinced that virtual meetings have been useful, and the time is well spent.

‘We’ve talked about for example our leadership styles, team play, everyday challenges, change management and business in general.”

“This program gives you the opportunity to get away from everyday tasks and to focus on the topic of conversation. Such a dialogue helps you to look at things from a different angle. A mentor can help you in confirming you are doing something well or challenging you to think about other approaches. It is certainly very helpful to talk to someone who has a lot of business and leadership experience. Most certainly, any feedback from the mentor really means a lot to me”, describes Lugarov.

Telanne thinks that the best part has been their open discussion with a free agenda. Lugarov, too, says she has learned a lot from mentoring.

“In particular, I learned more about business, understanding the bigger picture, the importance of team play and how patience is very important in many ways. I am happy that we will continue our meetings even though the program officially already ended at the turn of the year”, Lugarov adds.

Going forward, Alma Medians can search for a mentor on a digital platform

Mentoring programs will be developed so that any Alma Medians can seek a mentor or sparring pair for themselves in a digital service going forward.

“The purpose is to build employee led programs, whereby the ‘search is constantly on’. One’s own development area and a suitable pair can be found internationally among 1500 colleagues. Many times, a challenge with similar programs is that the need for development can be current right now, but there is not a suitable mentoring program available at that time. In the future one can initiate mentoring relationship whenever the need is current by utilizing a digital platform” says Mäkinen.

“Alma has an excellent culture for sharing one’s competence. We are enthusiastic about each other’s coaching and, on a low threshold, offer support for others to develop. This makes Alma a particularly good place to grow,” Mäkinen rejoices.