How I mentor my boss

When I joined A.S. Watson in May 2016, I never imagined I would be fortunate enough to be the Group Managing Director and Mr. Dominic Lai’s mentor. But what exactly does a reverse mentor do?

Grace Leung

Digital Marketing | SEO | Social | Content Marketing | Analytics

When I joined A.S. Watson in May 2016, I never imagined I would be fortunate enough to be the Group Managing Director and Mr. Dominic Lai’s mentor. But what exactly does a reverse mentor do? 

A precise view of reverse mentoring from Alan Webber, the co-founder of Fast Company is: “It’s a situation where the old fogies in an organisation realise that, by the time you're in your forties and fifties, you're not in touch with the future the same way the young twenty-somethings are. They come with fresh eyes, open minds, and instant links to the technology of our future.’’

Hong Kong HQ

A Mentor’s Perspective

I’m one of the six reverse mentors at A.S. Watson. I still remember how excited I was leading up to our first mentoring session because I obviously wanted to make a good impression with the most senior person in the Group. How should I prepare myself to be a reverse mentor and what exactly should I be sharing? After all, I would have imagined Dominic had other priorities rather than learning about social media, which is a key part of our lives as Millennials but might not be as interesting to others. During our first session, he expressed an interest in how Millennials use social media and its influence on their online shopping decisions.

In addition, my main role as his mentor is to show him the latest trends happening in our industry and across the digital landscape, including search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social listening, website analytics and app marketing etc. I’m pleased he’s also interested in hearing about my role as a Digital Marketing Specialist and about the eLab digital team I work with. Because of his interest in my day-to-day job I felt it was a golden opportunity for me to show that, in this ever-changing digital age, one of the major benefits of being aware of developing trends is how it gives me the freedom and confidence to think outside the box and implement new ideas.  

Grace and Mr. Dominic Lai

I don't imagine many staff will get a similar chance to have frequent direct exchanges with a member of top management and I appreciate the development opportunity I’ve been given. Being his mentor has huge benefits for me because I’ve learned so much from him. For example, I understand more about how to be an effective leader and the importance of having a long-term vision even in our daily work, so we can stay one step ahead of change and keep adding value to our business in order to plan for future success. 

It's been almost a year of us working together and so far we’ve had mentoring sessions twice a month. I’m very pleased that Dominic is a keen learner and he always likes to keep in touch with the latest happenings in the market. My mentoring of Dominic will be ongoing, so I hope we will both continue to learn a lot more in the future. He shared an interesting perspective with me commenting that digital technology is growing rapidly and so we need to ensure collaboration is in place supporting essential digital transformation.

If you want to know more, see my interview with Group Learning & Development Director (Asia) about this programme.

And see Dominic talk about being my mentee.