Mentoring week: Prof Heather Hartwell – Let’s give back

Professor Heather Hartwell is a UK-registered nutritionist and Professor in the Bournemouth University Business School. She has led many research projects, including the EC FP7 project VeggieEAT, the EC Horizon 2020 project FoodSMART and the British Council / Newton Fund project Veg+. In this blog post, Heather shares her experience of being a mentor at Bournemouth University and her thoughts on the mentoring role and relationship.

My primary goal in undertaking the mentoring programme facilitated by Organisational Development in 2009 was to use my experience and help staff who would like to enhance their own personal development and assist colleagues in realising their full aspirations. It was to give back to a community which had been totally supportive to me during my time in HE.

While there are theoretical models such as GROW (please see below) and much academic debate, mentoring to me is more fluid, less structured and more dependent on the mentor/mentee relationship.



Identify goal to be achieved
Reality Acknowledge the current situation and raise self-awareness


Identify alternative courses of action
Will Identify what will need to be done to make decisions on how to proceed.

The way forward

Table 1 – The GROW model (Whitmore 2002)

Respect for each other and commitment to action are crucial in a successful mentoring relationship where both are in tune and harmony. Notwithstanding, the nature of the mentor/mentee rapport changes with time; initially the focus may be on helping the member of staff settle into their new role, providing information and support on practical issues. The dynamics will then change to be more symbiotic and two way street.

Academic staff mentoring new academic colleagues may:

  • Review education and assessment strategies
  • Give support on exam question setting and assignment marking
  • Share education expertise and resources
  • Observe learning and teaching sessions and offer supportive formative feedback
  • Invite mentee to observe them
  • Offer guidance on university quality procedures and systems
  • Motivate and encourage innovative approaches to teaching
  • Support the mentee in submitting bids for grants and funding, providing guidance, feedback and opportunities for peer review
  • Support the mentee in writing for publication, identifying appropriate journals and providing guidance, feedback and opportunities for peer review
  • Identify with the mentee to engage in research, enterprise, professional practice
  • Identify opportunities with the mentee to disseminate research, enterprise, educational and professional practice
  • Introduce them to appropriate networks of support and collaboration


 What type of person makes an Effective Mentor?

 Clutterbuck (2004) suggests that a good mentor is someone who has:

  • An interest in developing others
  • An interest in continuing to develop themselves
  • Reasonably good explaining skills
  • Good listening ability
  • A broader perspective than the mentee’s
  • Generally good behavioural skills
  • Integrity
  • A sense of humour (absolutely essential in the eyes of mentees!)

I thoroughly enjoy the role and get great pleasure in the success of those who I support.

I hope that I am inspirational, enthusiastic and empathetic, although we must ask my mentees! The role takes my work to a new level within BU and provides a resource that hopefully will benefit not just individuals but the organisation as a whole.



CLUTTERBUCK, D., 2004. Everyone Needs a Mentor. London: Institute of Personnel Management

Talbot Campus Ref: 658.407124

WHITMORE, J., 2002. Coaching for Performance: GROWing people, performance and purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey

Talbot Campus Ref: 658.312404