Dr Diane Munday is the Scheme Coordinator for the Teaching Research & Academic Mentoring Scheme (TRAMS) and is based within Organisational & Staff Development Services at the University of St Andrews. In today’s post, Diane shares some of her experiences with us and offers some excellent advice for running large cross-institutional mentoring schemes.
Can you give a brief description of your mentoring scheme?
TRAMS started about sixteen years ago as a collaboration between the University of Dundee and the University of St Andrews. I took over as scheme coordinator in 2017 and looking after the scheme is the favourite part of my job.
The scheme has now grown to incorporate seven partner institutions – six across Scotland (St Andrews, Dundee, Abertay University, Glasgow School of Art, the James Hutton Institute and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh). Trinity College Dublin is our seventh institution, which means the scheme has now gone international!
How many mentors and mentees does the scheme have?
At the moment, we have:
· 448 active scheme members
· 160 partnerships
· 159 mentors in the database
· 217 mentees in the database
· 72 dual role mentors and mentees
What are the objectives of the scheme?
For us, mentoring is one of the most powerful professional development tools available, particularly for those in academia. Our overall objective is to match senior academic researchers with junior researchers. We see it as kind of ‘sending the lift back down’ and helping others develop.
However, we’re also now seeing more ‘peer-to-peer’ mentoring partnerships developing within the scheme which also brings great benefits for networking and sharing experiences.
You use SUMAC to administer TRAMS. How has this added to your success with the scheme?
It would be impossible to administer a large scheme with seven institutions without SUMAC. Creating a sign up form and doing the matching manually would take ages. It saves us months of work and allows for easy collaboration.
What do you like most about using SUMAC?
I would say the matching algorithm. Also being able to see all the partnerships easily. The tagging function is very helpful and the ability to send emails to different audiences. The reports are powerful for showing the impact of the scheme on people so I find them useful for analysis.
'It would be impossible to administer a large scheme with seven institutions without SUMAC.'
What is your advice to other practitioners looking to set up a mentoring scheme?
Start small and then build up, so it builds naturally. Only change one thing at a time to keep things simple and achievable.
Be very clear who the scheme is for – you’ll cause yourself a lot of work if you are not clear who you are targeting and why. Always be clear what your objective is and your reason for running the scheme.
If it’s a staff mentoring scheme, make sure to match your mentors and mentees outside of the line management system.
Also don’t forget to speak to others who have built schemes before to get some useful advice!
What are your future plans for TRAMS?
We intend to grow the scheme and would like to partner with more institutions in the future, that’s definitely on the cards. We’d also like to work towards accreditation, so we’re looking into that and discussions so far have been very positive.
What do you love about being a mentoring and coaching practitioner?
I find it really lovely when someone has done well, enjoyed their participation in the scheme and then comes back and tells us ‘I’ve got a new job’, or ‘I’ve got a fellowship’, something like that. Or even when they just want to say thank you, that was a fantastic match. It’s not always just about careers - some people find meaningful friendships from the mentoring process. I just love it and think it is so powerful.
Keen to run your own mentoring scheme? Or want to scale up an existing scheme? Speak to one of SUMAC’s mentoring experts to see how you too can run your most successful mentoring scheme yet.