Mentoring through international boundaries

Mentoring Article June 2016We talk to International Mentor Ibimina Kakulu and her mentees about their successful partnership.

By Susannah Campbell, Student Engagement & Events Coordinator

As the number of international students arriving to study in the UK on both the BSc and MSc Real Estate courses increases it is increasingly important these students have the opportunity to be mentored by a mentor from their home country as part of the RREF Mentoring Scheme.

Ibimina Kakulu, a former international student and now mentor to two current international students explains, ‘I recognised the socioeconomic and sociocultural challenges associated with the application of academic knowledge gained while studying in the UK. In different real estate practice environments, particularly in emerging economies, this could be frustrating for fresh graduates who on return to Nigeria or Ghana, might experience difficulty in integrating knowledge and skills into a less developed economy, as I know with only some of the knowledge I acquired in my MSc only recently becoming relevant’.

A double sense of fulfilment...
Like many of our international mentoring partnerships Ibimina’s relationship building with her mentees, Edward and Anthony, has been primarily through emails, mobile and WhatsApp conversations, combined with opportunities to meet such as at the RREF Mentoring Reception, and in the UK informally when possible.

Edward notes, ‘Our major means of communication - e-mails, helped to build a nice relationship but we were blessed to have her come to Reading during the Easter holidays and we finally met face-to-face at the RREF Mentoring Reception in London. I must say, it was a joy to meet her and we ended up chatting for hours and we took some memorable pictures to top it all up. We also had dinner in Reading days after and shared more knowledge and bonded. That was awesome.’

But the partnership offers a positive experience for Ibimina also, ‘It keeps me informed of developments in the field of Real Estate. Interactions and discussion on their proposed research topics, sends me back to the internet in search of a clearer understanding of novel issues I am not familiar with is. Overall it is an excellent platform for contributing to the development of the Real Estate Profession and largely philanthropic by design so you get a double sense of fulfilment.’

The key word would be "Insight"...
Making the most of the mentoring period by focusing from the beginning on what her mentees want from the relationship and their career aspirations, such as if they will be returning home after study, the types of work experience they should pursue and the local professional associations to join Ibimina ensures her advice is relevant and helps to give focus. Offering a contemporary experience of the Real Estate situation from their home country Ibimina’s mentees agree has been extremely beneficial.

With Anthony commenting ‘The key word would be “Insight,” going back to Nigeria to practice or lets say Africa, is a different scenario from the UK, and why an Internationally based mentor with that specific experience is pertinent. By sharing her insight on what the African market has to offer and what the professional landscape feels like, it will be less daunting to make a transition.’

Inspire the next generation of leaders...
For both mentees it has been an extremely positive experience in helping them to develop their future careers and they would encourage other international professionals to sign up, ‘we need your help and experience so that we can pass it on to the generation behind us to keep our industry on top for a long time to come (Edward)…. This is their opportunity to not only give back, but to inspire the next generation of leaders in this profession (Anthony).’

As our international student numbers increase we are still looking for more international mentors to ensure we can offer these students a relevant mentoring experience, who can guide and help them fulfil their potential as the real estate leaders of tomorrow. If you would like to become a part of the scheme don't hesitate to contact us.

If you would like to find out further information on how to become a part of the RREF Mentoring Scheme please contact or call 0118 378 4192.


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