Being a Mentor in the JAYE Malta Company Programme
For those not familiar with the JAYE Malta Company initiative, the programme revolves around an exciting 9-month journey for 6th form students in charge of starting an actual business. The excitement is real since they get to be CEOs, production managers, they get to create products or services, run the accounts, and do the marketing – the real thing.
Mentors get to join the ride by offering advice, information, guidance, and support. Sometimes it might look like conflict resolution or marriage counseling, but more often than not, these young groups of people with the entrepreneurial zest go through a fantastic process of bringing an idea to life and mentors get a chance to witness it. This year, AX Group is participating as a mentor in the JAYE Company program and I am coordinating our efforts.
It is my first year of being a mentor and I must admit I am hooked. The enthusiasm that students bring is absolutely overwhelming. There are a few guiding rules that I try to abide by; it helps me keep my focus on providing the best support possible.
It’s about the fishing rod, not the fish
Leave the bait, ask the tough questions but ultimately let them figure it out. Having more experience than them, you might want to share it with them so they don’t make any mistakes – but that is not what JAYE and this process are about. What’s great about this programme is that it’s not about who sold the most or who had the most marketing exposure. It’s not like in the UK show The Apprentice where it’s just about sales figures. The JAYE Malta Company programme judges you on the process. The company might actually go on to make a loss or the CEO might have abandoned the company along the way and it still wouldn’t forbid the company from winning awards for perseverance, quality, HR, best use of technology or innovation. It’s all about what they learned along the way and how they adapted to adverse circumstances. Therefore a mentor’s role is to observe, allow them to follow their own path and offer guidance but not solutions when required.
It’s business time
During their first year as sixth form students, they are already preparing for sitting for their A levels; arguably one of the biggest sets of exams of their life. And it’s dooming. They are terrified. Who they want to become when they grow up is a daily question that probably pops into their heads. This initiative can help students answer some of those questions. The programme offers role play, discovery and it offers students to understand their skill sets. They can think that they love the design and will leave the program learning that they were best at managing and leading instead. One can start as the ‘product person’ and leave the programme in love with finance and projection. No math exam will ever give you this opportunity. No school exercise will give the opportunity to be a CEO at the age of 16 and see what’s out there – in the real world.
So many businesses, institutions know about the programme and treat these 16-year-olds with the respect that perhaps on other occasions they might not find when doing an internship or when starting a business at a young age.
Remember, it’s supposed to be fun
What I try to offer my team – and perhaps that is also a reflection of my outlook on work – is that this is supposed to be fun! They have this amazing opportunity to experiment, bring attention to an issue that is long forgotten in the public domain, go on national television, speak to the Minister themselves, and call directly far east suppliers for the best prices. There are no limits here if one wants to learn and excel.
All I can say is that it has been an exciting journey so far and I cannot wait what the next months are going to bring. Ahead of us lies the part in which groups have to start marketing the product and the Grand Finale will be held in May. Good luck to all the groups and all the mentors!
Article written by Anika Gatt Seretny, Public Relations Executive at AX Group