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Why your ambitious company will need a mentor to succeed

Many of the famous names in business attribute a major part of their success to the mentors who guided and advised them

One thing that some of the top business leaders attending the Making the Most of Europe debate in March agreed upon is that a mentor is important for ambitious businesses that want to take on the world.

The debate, hosted by Spectator in conjunction with easyJet, had a panel comprising Ashford MP Damian Green; Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City UK; Vicky Pryce, chief economic advisor at the Centre for Economics and Business Research; and Michael Hayman, co-founder of Seven Hills PR.

Warren Buffet sat at the feet of Benjamin Graham, while Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, mentored Marissa Mayer into her position as CEO of Yahoo.

Why mentoring matters

The continued importance of being able to benefit from the wisdom of those who have played the game of global business and won was underscored by the CEO of property investing platform Property Partner, Daniel Gandesha, who spoke to the Telegraph about the debate. Gandesha, a mentee of a senior executive from a high-profile tech company and someone who has used advice from the programme Upscale, said that mentoring allows businesses to learn from the trial and error of those who have gone before and facilitates accelerated learning.

Upscale and the Mayor of London’s export programme

Upscale, a recent initiative of Tech City UK, is one of two public sources of mentoring in international trade that London’s small- and medium-sized enterprises can draw on. The other is the Mayor of London’s export programme.

Gandesha, who wants to expand his UK-focused £25m company into Europe, told the Telegraph that the monthly sessions run by Tech City had already been helpful in formulating his plans. As the public body tasked with protecting the interests of UK digital businesses, Tech City has also used its influence to prevent EU legislation that would not have been helpful to UK businesses, said Gandesha.

Mentors can’t replace hard work

Remo Gerber, CEO of the taxi-booking platform Gett, also spoke to the Telegraph in the wake of the debate. Gett is one of 50 companies in the first cohort of the Mayor of London’s export programme, which was launched in February. Gerber explained that simply being a part of a community of like-minds was a benefit in itself.

Speaking about the opportunity the programme had given him to be part of trade missions to Israel, Singapore and Malaysia, Gerber said the experience had been invaluable. He did offer a word of warning, however, to companies that want to expand the £140bn in exports already produced by companies based in London. The Mayor’s programme can’t do business for you, said Gerber, with companies needing a real appetite for growth to be able to trade across borders.

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