Scottish Life Science Association Mentoring Programme

Welcome to Wisdom the SLA mentoring programme.

Mentorship is a well-established method of transferring knowledge and advice from generation to generation. As Scotland’s health science sector has grown and developed, we have cultivated a rich resource of individuals with a variety of experiences at all levels in the life science industry. Our members have been involved in starting up and guiding companies, raising funds, managing teams, building business networks, scaling up, and moving on, not to mention facing and overcoming many obstacles along the way. WISDOM is a programme to pass on the learnings from these experiences so we can collectively grow Scotland’s Life Science Sector so that it creates, attracts and sustains life science businesses of scale. The WISDOM mentoring programme is open to all staff of companies that are members of the SLA. The SLA through WISDOM is committed to promoting equality and diversity within the life science sector in Scotland.


• To provide access to experienced individuals across the business spectrum who can provide guidance and insight to SLA members wishing to develop their career in the life science sector.
• To build a network of Scottish companies that employ people that are better prepared and qualified to meet the challenges of a more competitive environment.
• To provide Scotland with a competitive advantage in the life sciences through the development of the people working in it.

How SLA mentoring works

The SLA will introduce the mentor and mentee. It is up to the mentor and mentee to agree terms such as confidentiality, frequency of meetings and location. There is no set time for this mentoring relationship and it can continue for as long as both parties are willing. There is no set plan for meetings or form or location although it is generally thought that face to face meetings where possible are best to establish rapport and trust.

SLA’s Mentoring Policy

This policy sets out the SLA’s aims and approach in supporting all mentoring relationships, and applies to all mentors and mentees. It is not intended to create a legally binding relationship or contractual agreement. The SLA is committed to all mentors and mentees, who can expect to:

• Be valued as individuals and respected for their knowledge and skills.
• Have support, feedback, appreciation and encouragement.
• Have opportunities to discuss concerns or problems with the mentoring relationship.
• Have all information relevant to them.

The SLA expects its mentors and mentees to:

• Show commitment to the mentoring service.
• Be reliable and engaged in the mentoring service.
• Have a flexible approach
• Operate within your limits and, where necessary, support the mentee in seeking a different mentor or help of another professional (e.g. business adviser, financial adviser or counsellor).
• Be sensitive and tactful where necessary.
• Treat your mentee, other SLA members and SLA staff with respect.
• Respect confidentiality of any discussions. This is important and will help to create trust with your mentee.

Guidance for Mentors (Application form)

Firstly, thank you for volunteering to be an SLA mentor. We hope you enjoy your role and take pleasure in using your experience to help other members with their career development. We ask that you complete a short questionnaire which will help us match you appropriately with a mentee. Should you have any questions, please contact Scott Johnstone at Scott@sla.scot

Your role as a mentor

A mentoring relationship is a professional relationship and you should approach your mentoring partnership as you would any other professional relationship. We recommend that a confidentiality agreement acceptable to both parties is signed at the start of the process. Mentoring is a process of providing support to a mentee to allow them to explore issues so that they can find the solution to issues themselves. As a mentor you are not expected to:

• Solve your mentee’s problems and have all the answers.
• Tell the mentee what to do or how to behave.
• Provide specific technical expertise or to be a source of free advice

By providing a supportive ‘ear’ and the benefit of your experience you will provide a valuable resource to the development of the life science sector in Scotland. The benefits of mentoring are felt by both the mentor and mentee.

Mentoring sessions

Mentors and mentees are free to set their own agendas for meetings. For the first session would this would most likely include:

• Introductions.
• Explaining your role as a mentor.
• Discussing the focus of the session (your mentee’s goals and expectations)
• Discussing practicalities of future sessions
• Discussing how the relationship will work
• Clarifying what you have both agreed to do before the next meeting.
• Agreeing a date and place of the next meeting.

Before your first meeting it is good to think about the venue. We advise you arrange to meet in a reasonably quiet public place to avoid unease, for example we do not recommend you meet in either your or your mentee’s home. If you decide to meet at either of your workplaces, you should check with your employer first; issues of commercial sensitivity and use of company time should be considered. The SLA offices can be used as a location if desired. Generally, however, if two people do not ‘click’ within the first two meetings, the relationship is unlikely to develop the depth of rapport and trust necessary to address issues through mentoring. The reality is that not all relationships are going to work. In the absence of rapport it is always better to dissolve the relationship and the SLA can help you with this. Please get in touch with us at any stage if you need advice.

Guidance for Mentees (Application form)

Mentoring allows you to explore new ideas in confidence and look more closely at yourself, your opportunities, your goals and any issues you face. It can help you learn how to manage your career in order to maximise your potential and develop your skills. Some common benefits that you can gain from being mentored include:

• Being supported through change
• Personal development
• Broadening your horizons and experiences
• Raising your aspirations
• Building your confidence
• Improving your performance
• Greater job satisfaction
• Enhancing your creativity and thinking in new ways

We want you to get the most out of your mentoring relationship, so we ask you to be committed in seeking development opportunities, self-learning, feedback, encouragement and support. We recommend you approach your mentoring partnership as you would any other professional relationship. Once you have read through these guidelines, the next step will be to fill in the online questionnaire. This will allow us to find out more information about you and what you hope to achieve through being mentored, which will help us match you with a suitable mentor.

We will put you in touch with an appropriate mentor who we will have matched you with based on your responses in the questionnaire. We will do this as soon as possible, but you may not be matched straight away; while we will do our best to find a suitable mentor for your needs, we cannot guarantee one.