The CFK Mentoring Programme | The Council for Frontiers of Knowledge

The CFK Mentoring Programme

Posted by Mark





Human Resource Management






Research Management
DTU Nanotech
Department of Micro-and Nanotechnology

What is Mentoring?

Roots back to the Greek mythology. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War, he entrusted his friend Mentor with the task of raising his son Telemachos in his absence and to promote the boy's development.

In the English-language literature, mentoring is defined as: "A process whereby an experienced , highly regarded, empatheDc person (the mentor) guides another (usually younger) individual (the mentee) in the development and re-examinaDon of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional development. The mentor, who often (but not necessarily) works in the same organizaDon or field as the mentee, achieves this by listening or talking in confidence to the mentee"

Why Mentoring?

  • You can obtain personal support to achieve your own and organizational goals
  • You can obtain tools for your career development
  • You can share knowledge and learn from each other
  • You can create new networks, collaborate across "borders"
  • You can promote a more open climate
  • You can obtain new perspectives on life, achieve a fuller life

Mentee role

  • To be proactive!
  • Think about your future, i.e. your objectives and goals in the short and long term
  • Formulate your goals with your mentor
  • Receive feedback (but also give!)
  • Reflect
  • Keep an open mind towards "the journey

Through your mentor, you can look at problems from a distance and at the same time have a unique chance to be at the center of things and be the focus of a conversation
By communicating and puCng words on problems, not only the problems, but also possible solutions may become more visible or clearer

Mentor Roles

The mentor's motivation stems from interest in mentoring, and the satisfaction derived from passing on his/her experience to a younger less experienced person Not only the mentee but also the mentor benefits from the mentoring process:

  • Gives insight into issues concerning his/her young professional colleagues
  • Encourages to reflect on his/her own professional and personal development


Voices of mentees?
  • "My meetings with my mentor has enabled me to have a clearer picture of possible career paths. I have started to make plans for life after graduation
  • "Peace of mind, inspiration and work satisfaction"
  • "It was a door to new arenas and new acquaintances"
  • "To ventilate my experiences and thoughts"
  • "A sense of belonging to something larger"
  • "Help to prioritize"
  • "Help with practical matters in career planning"
  • "An impartial assistance in an emergency and the precarious situation"
  • "It has been nice"
Some statements from mentees after evaluation of two mentorship programs run by Lund University, Sweden (PLUME and luPOD)


Voices of mentors?
  • "I gain a lot of energy by sharing knowledge on how it is in industry. I believe it is important to build bridges between academia and industry through research, master thesis, courses and now also through mentorship. I see this as a win-win activity"
  • ''Intellectual stimulation"
  • "To meet another generation"
  • "It felt good!"
  • "Gaining insight into the conditions for young academics (important for my own leadership)"
  • "Opportunity to reflect on and get perspective on my own career and my own challenges"
Some statements from mentors after evaluation of two mentorship programs run by Lund University, Sweden (PLUME and luPOD)

The agreement

  • Not mandatory, can be interrupted
  • Start with a view on the relationship (confidentiality / trust)
  • Agree on approach, time, location
  • Discuss expectations on the mentee/mentor role
  • Write down your goals and the expected impacts and issues / themes / that you want help with

  What then is e-Mentoring?

In principle the same thing, but apart from face-to-face meetings, it includes meeting through various electronic means E-mail, Skype, Messenger, Adobe connect, Telephone..................... etc. Most e-Mentoring programs have an internal interactive Web platform  

Nano2Life’s internal interactive web platform-­Before Log-in

Nano2Life’s internal interactive web platform- After Log-in

Personal e-Mentoring room for Mentor and Mentee

Why e-Mentoring?

In scattered organizations/networks where the mentor and mentee lives far apart

Many Relationships are possible Mentor and mentee able to communicate whenever is convenient for them
Absence of visual cues can remove some potential barriers Record of conversations
Encourages democratic and co-operative approach May suit those for whom face to  face meetings produce anxiety
Allows remote meetings that are time and space independent Higher probability of being able to recruit mentors who are still active
Asynchronous communication encourages reflection Good for communication of information and ideas

Some Perceived Weaknesses of e-Mentoring

Absence of visual cues provides less information and feedback Mentoring Conversations may take longer to develop
Not as personal as face-to-face meetings May not suit those for whom the medium may produce anxiety
Less “sparking off” than face-to-face meetings Needs a formalized programme environment
Poor expression of emotions, and informal chat Requires additional competencies
Interactions must be frequent

e-Mentoring Projects by Circle2Europe in the UK

  • MentorsByNet - SEEDA & Business Links
  • SE e-Mentoring for Farmers - DEFRA & BLs
  • East of England e-Mentoring for Rural Businesses - East Mentoring Forum

Evaluation of MentorsByNet

  • 96 % mentees and 80 % mentors described the experience as positive.
  • 91% mentees and 84 % mentors would participate in a similar programme.
  • 60 % mentees and 70 % mentors saw convenience, flexibility, ease as major benefits of e-mentoring.
  • Only 30% saw impersonality as a concern.
  • >50% mentees and mentors plan to continue the relationship.

Face-to-Face meetings are important! In Nano2Life's e-Mentoring program we had:

  • Possibility for Face-to-Face meetings between mentors and mentees (based on mutual agreement between the two) every 6 months in relation to research meetings and annual meetings.
  • Some mentors and mentees visited each others labs after mutual agreement.

During Nano2Life meetings we organized different Career Promoting Activities for mentees :

  • How to improve your presentation technique
  • How to write an excellent proposal (EU specific)
  • Summer schools on NanoBio technology
  • Competitions on best written popular scientific paper, best young poster and oral awards, best achieving young scientist.

A CFK Based Mentoring Program Questions to be addressed:

  1. Are you interested in this e-Mentoring program?
  2. If yes, how do you think this program can help empower young African scientist?
  3. Are there volunteers willing to be active from the African side?
  4. How do we adapt such a program to African needs and circumstances? E.g. What ICT platforms work in an African setting? Skype, Messenger, Adobe connect (cost money!). Are there other tools that are better suited for the African situation?
  5. What type of mentors and mentees - African and Western? E.g. An African PhD stud/postdoc with a Western mentor, and a Western PhD stud/postdoc with an African mentor
  6. What type of mentees - master students, PhD students, postdocs?
  7. How do we recruit mentors? E.g. apart from the CFK, are there existing African-Western collaborations that could be a source of mentors?
  8. Should we try and combine it with a research exchange program?
  9. Any thing else that you think should be addressed?

Possible funding sources?

Cecilia Agrell and I will apply for money from different sources and have identified some potential sources below:

  1. Vinnova (Swe)
  2. SIDA (Swe)
  3. Svenska InsDtutet (Swe)
  4. DANIDA (DK)
  5. IFS -
  6. ISP -
  7. European Union
  8. World Health Organization (WHO)?
  9. The World Bank?
  10. Ugandan and other African sources?
  11. Bill Gates Foundation?
  12. Any other possibilities ????

Funding for the program will cover:

  • Scholarship for mentees/mentors for face-to-face meetings
  • Salary for a person developing the interactive web platform....... or other platform agreed upon (Uganda based?)
  • Salary for a person administrating the web platform (Uganda based?)
  • Organizing career promoting activities for mentees
  • Nothing else

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