Reverse Mentoring with local university students/graduates

The idea of Reverse Mentoring, (with final year undergraduate and recent alumni from the West Midlands as mentors) came about as a result of informative talks with BPS Birmingham, Citi-Redi, GBSLEP and Birmingham Business School.


It was identified that a combined collaborative approach was needed to:

  • Improve the graduate outcomes of those who live in the West Midlands, particularly from under-represented groups by raising the awareness and enthusiasm for careers in the Business, Professional and Financial Services Sector (BPFS), Health and Life Sciences Sector & Technology sector.
  • Improve skills and diversity in the BPFS and Health and Life Sciences sectors using untapped graduate talent, to support sustainable and inclusive growth.

Working with these sectors and students/graduates, it was considered necessary to break down local students’ perceptions of the sector(s) and understand more widely why certain groups are not applying in the same numbers or not being hired as expected. Without a diverse workforce that represents the region, the sector remains concerned about future challenges hindering creativity, productivity and their ‘stickiness to the region’.

What is Reverse Mentoring?

Traditional mentoring is a valuable, informal relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person guides someone who is less experienced to reach their goals by sharing personal experiences, advice, unbiased support and feedback. 

In reverse mentoring, the power position of the two parties is switched. On this scheme, the organisation (you - the mentee) will be asking the student/graduate (the mentor) to give feedback, support and advice on what they think about your current graduate recruitment practices or/and how you target students. This could include your strategy for targeting secondary schools and universities to future proof your organisation’s workforce.

We’re keen to help you gain an insight into the mind-sets and experiences of graduates in the local area and how you can attract a wider, diverse range of graduates. 

We define ‘diversity and inclusion’ as empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin.

View transcript of Reverse Mentoring video

Why a Reverse Mentoring scheme?

The Reverse Mentoring scheme is part of the Transformation West Midlands Project, a partnership project between The University of Birmingham, Newman University & University College Birmingham, funded by the Office for Students.

The project exists to boost the job outcomes of local graduates, thus improving local economies. Our project goes further: to build a stronger diverse talent pipeline sought by employers, with work-ready local graduates, supporting those particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

We recognise the challenges and we hope that reverse mentoring is one way to affect change with employers. Final year undergraduates and recent graduates would mentor Student Recruitment teams/Hiring managers from your organisation to tackle certain challenges together.  

How does the Reverse Mentoring scheme work?

For this scheme, we’d love any organisation, large or small, from the business, professional, financial services sector to take part.

A team of three students/graduates will go through a university- led application process so that they are well-matched to your organisation and the challenge posed by you.  

What is my organisations commitment?

As mentors (students/graduates) are offering their time voluntarily and part-time, the meeting times will need to be flexible.

We suggest that organisations (as mentees) commit to a minimum of 1 hour a month face-to-face contact time (from a time period of January - March 2022), including non-contact time, which then allows the mentors to reflect on your issues, offer appropriate guidance and have periodic conversations to work up viable solutions with you.  All is flexible.

What is the benefit to my organisation?

We hope that the results of conversations and feedback have the power to positively change how you do things and offers the deeper insights you seek.

You’ll also be giving local graduates/students, from under-represented groups the fantastic opportunity to build on key transferable soft skills, experience a work environment in-situ, providing greater awareness about a career they may be aspired to join, but perhaps lack confidence to apply or didn't succeed first time round.

The scheme was piloted in 2019-20 with four organisations in business and financial services: HSBC, Shoosmiths, Gowling WLG and BSN Associates. In 2021-21 the scheme was expanded to broader sectors and featured organisations such as: Air Liquide, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Birmingham City Council, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Deloitte, FDM Group, Future Genetics, ICF, SOTI, Steps to Work, Teach First, Unlocked Graduates & West Midlands Police. Details can be found here.

Feedback from employer involvement includes:

Charlotte Leer

Emerging Talent Attraction and Selection Lead at HSBC

“The programme offers meaningful, first-hand insight into how employers can better recruit and support a broader range of candidates; for example, how increasing awareness of our flexible working policies could help us better attract top talent from single-parent families, which make up nearly a quarter of families in the UK. As a result of participating in the scheme, we will be running commercial awareness sessions for local students about the business and will also be partnering up with a few faith culturally based societies to pilot a mentorship scheme to give students year round support.”


Reverse Mentoring Timescales

January - September 2021: Recruitment of mentees: A conversation/meeting with the Transformation West Midlands Project Manager to help you establish your challenge, which then leads to a challenge brief.

October - November 2021: Your challenge brief is advertised by the three universities (through their careers services) for locally domiciled (West Midlands) final year students/recent graduates to apply to.

November - December 2021: The selection process is conducted by the Project Team and mentors are matched to mentees.

Early January 2022: An initial launch to meet your mentors and to receive training to ensure commitment and skills capability.

January - March 2022: Periodic communications to tackle the challenge together, reflection time and final exit session.

May/Jun 2022: Feedback and evaluation.

What to do if you are interested in Reverse Mentoring

If you are interested in Reverse Mentoring, please contact Matt Haskey, Project Manager, University of Birmingham for a conversation. Email:


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