The Value of Mentoring as Continuing Professional Development

Continuing Professional Development is as much about developing and showing your competencies as it can be your path to holistic growth and that of the profession you serve.

Imagine the delight of receiving an invitation to go to an end of year architecture degree show from the students that you were assigned, and honoured, to mentor by the  RIBA Future Architects Programme. Our students were at Ravensbourne University, an institution that is keen to connect its student body to professional life.

Arriving at North Greenwich station (Architects: Alsop Architects.1998) to be on the peninsula of the O2/Millenium dome (Architect: RSHP. 1999) then too wander across an elevated walkway/The Tide (Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro + Neiheiser Argyros. 2019) before entering the Ravensbourne University Building (Architects:Farshid Moussavi, Foreign Office Architects. 2010) to be met by the future of design. Photographers, Product, graphic, UX designers and future architect s displaying and moving through spaces across multiple floors visually linked by a full height atrium. This allows for a moment of wonder and inspiration.

The Tide

Each building’s form and gestures show playfulness,technical ingenuity and fun. This feels quite befitting of an area that describes itself as the “Design District”.  It reminded me, that from my younger days to now, the reasons why I love the profession of architecture and made a connection to it early on. It shore up the need to facilitate the passing on of knowledge and inspiration to the next generation of designers.

The full height atrium visually connecting departments and disciplines

Although I am not currently in the position to employ a Part 1 or a Part 2 Architectural Assistant.(This is the office based training years undertaken by architectural students) there was an opportunity to give back and engage with the next generation of Architects by becoming part of the RIBA Future Architects programme. (

The students through mentoring sessions have access to professionals to talk and discuss work, life and stories that have formed the mentors careers to date like starting a business, finding work, being employed or not. It creates the environment for frank and fruitful discourse, which is something invaluable, it felt, for all parties concerned.

Whilst being at Kingston University studying for the Part 3  (The final training before being able to become an architect) I heard the expression ‘Reflective Practitioner’. An amazing term that allows you to take ownership of your journey, your career to date and think about how the lessons you learn will impact your practice currently and in the future. 

So what if that being able to reflect, connect and give back to the profession is part of your Continuing Professional Development? Well surprise, surprise it is. For architects it comes under the heading “Outreach: mentoring, volunteering and architecture in education”(Topic 1. Architecture for Social Purpose. RIBA CPD Core Curriculum)

Whether something that you can log on a chart or not it is important to make time to bridge the gap between yourself and the future generations of whatever path you have chosen. The talk of diversity sometimes forgets to mention that there needs to be an initial conversation between people who may never find the opportunity to speak and I am here for it.

 I spoke with a student about their work connecting on the concept of defensible space ( Oscar Newman).  I also talked to my mentee about studying remotely during the pandemic and the effect of mopping up a plaster spill during a scarcity of kitchen  towel and toilet roll. I watched the book and certificate presentation awarded to the students after a tough year. I marvelled at the beauty of the renders and splendid models on show. There was something so familiar and not dissimilar to episodes on my journey to qualification.

In my reflection I realised 20 years in or day 1 there was so much that bonded us and so much that we symbiotically have to offer each other from interacting. 

So if you have the opportunity to be present for the people coming up behind you, do it!. It will not only enhance and enrich your professional life but it may be the moment when someone on the path realises this journey is doable and I have met the people who are doing it!

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