Charlie Bennett

Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme
BSc Economics and Political Science, 2022
Mentored by Martin Devenish MBE

""Tell us a bit about yourself, your mentorship and what you gained from taking part in the mentoring scheme.

My name is Charlie Bennett and I am a final year studying BSc Economics and Political Science.

I was honoured to be selected as a mentee for the ALMP Careers Mentoring Programme under the experienced guidance of Martin Devenish MBE. Currently a Board Member of S-RM, a cyber security consultancy firm, Martin has thorough experience across the corporate landscape, having previously spent 20 years at Goldman Sachs. Recognised not only for his business intelligence but also for his services to education, having received an MBE in 2017, Martin offered me invaluable expertise and advice throughout the job application process as I pursued my career aspirations in the world of finance.

Offering both professional insights and personal reassurances, I worked closely with Martin with the goal of securing a graduate opportunity. Martin helped me to narrow my search focus, offered expert advice on my CV & the application process, and gave me the confidence to be proactive in my search.

From this process I have learned a great deal about the world of finance, effective application methods and am waiting to hear back from a final stage interview with a leading Corporate Finance house located in Birmingham.

Did you have any preconceptions about the mentoring experience that were challenged as a result of your experience?

At the beginning of the programme, my ultimate goal was to narrow my aspirational focus to a career that both interested me but also suited my personality. At first, I was sceptical as to whether Martin would be able to help in this remit, but through both zoom calls and over a pint in Selly Oak, I was able to build a professional but personal relationship with Martin that allowed us to narrow down my search criteria and ultimately reach the goal of finding the right career path for me; that path ended up being a transaction advisory role in Mergers & Acquisitions.

What is one piece of advice you learnt from your mentor you could share with other students/graduates?

One of the best pieces of advice I took from Martin was during our face-to-face encounter over a pint back in November. Martin made me recognizant of the fact that "any experience is often good experience." It made me realise that I shouldn't try to get overwhelmed by the ultimate goal of pursuing a full-time role post-graduation, and rather should broaden my scope and look for other opportunities that over time lead to that ultimate goal. This has subsequently resulted in me applying for a number of internships which offer the ultimate goal of a graduate job after the fact.

Can you share any top tips for making the most of the mentoring opportunity and how to be an effective mentee?

There are a number of tips I would offer to ensure both you and your mentor make the experience worthwhile.

1 Be proactive. The mentoring programme offers an invaluable opportunity to learn from and pick the brains of the best in your chosen industry, so take every opportunity to expand your knowledge, understanding and application aptitude. Ensure you are communicative with your respective mentor and keep them in the loop throughout all processes: you never know when they could offer an unexpected helping hand or word of advice.

2 Ask questions. The mentors generously offer their time throughout the year to help & support you, not to judge you. There is no doubt they're rooting for you to succeed, so act accordingly and work with them to achieve your fullest potential.

3 View the programme as a commitment to your future self. The programme gives you a valuable opportunity alongside your full time studies to lay the foundations for your future chosen career, so recognise this fact and be motivated to do everything you can to succeed.

4 Finally, take great confidence from the process. Through working with Martin, not only have I recognised my genuine desire to be successful, but I have also grown my knowledge and discovered professional attributes that I didn't think I had. The programme is a recognition of your commitment and your potential, so never lose sight of that!

Why would you recommend the scheme to other students?

I would recommend the scheme for 2 reasons. First and foremost, the breadth and success of the mentors that offer their time are second to none. You will find few opportunities like the one offered here that offer you one-to-one advice & guidance with a success story from your chosen field. The second reason I would recommend the scheme is related to my earlier mentioning of 'a commitment to your future self.' A degree from a Russell Group university presents the platform for fantastic success, but every extra step you take toward that success will always be rewarded. Make use of this fantastic programme, offered through the University, and commit to your future.


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