My Mentor: Jo McCafferty, HR and EHS director, Penn Pharma

Penn uses mentoring in what I believe is its true sense – as a form of training and learning, for the personal development of individuals. We use the experience of our more senior people to support the development of less experienced staff and even to address gaps in their own team.

I have acted as a mentor, and have been mentored previously, but my best mentor to date is my current one, our chief executive, Peter George.

Strategic planning

I joined Penn a year ago. I had worked before in senior HR positions, but my role here also required strategically planning and driving the business as a whole as a member of the executive team.

As my mentor, Peter concentrated on this area to bridge both the gap in my own development, and that in the executive team and the organisation.


It was the start of a process which, at first, I thought was a little unusual. Peter did a presentation for me, on how when he first joined Penn two-and-a-half years earlier, he went about ensuring that he and his team really understood the products and the market.

That was an eye-opener for me, in terms of the detail they’d gone into. They then used this process as the basis for the company’s strategy.

Sense of humour

Having such a formalised process was quite new within the business. At times during the mentoring process, being relatively new to the pharmaceutical sector, it became quite complex for me. But Peter has a good sense of humour, which helped.

We have a laugh, but we take the mentoring relationship seriously. We set targets, and we have a plan of things we want to cover. And as this is a fast-moving business, we have to make sure that the mentoring process stays flexible.

He is still mentoring me, and the process has acted as a great enabler, encouraging me to develop skills quickly and effectively while still going about my day job.

Tailor-made fit

Because of how the mentoring has been conducted, it has been tailored to me, to Penn and to our industry, which has been invaluable.

In fact, knowing how much I’d gained from the process, I arranged for Peter to deliver his presentation to our senior managers. They loved it, and we’re already planning a follow-up.

We’re continuing with the mentoring process, and are now looking at specific areas of the market.

Tell us: Has a mentor helped you? E-mail [email protected]

Comments are closed.