Alumni Spotlight: Antonios Rizk

Antonio Rizk - right

Mentor name: Antonios Rizk

Country: Lebanon

Mowgli Mentoring Programme: SANAD Lebanon Mentoring Programme

There’s no doubt that having a mentor can have a significant impact in the life of a mentee. After all, this relationship is established to support the growth of the mentee. Being a mentor comes with a lot of responsibility. Within Mowgli’s mentoring programmes, we go beyond professional mentoring to supporting personal development through our 360-degree mentoring model.

As we shared in this blog post, an effective mentor is not only present/available for guidance, he/she holds a mirror that allows the mentee to reflect on their choices, gain perspective on their internal interferences while holding him/her accountable to their growth journey.

Mowgli Mentor, Antonios Rizk fully understands the value of mentoring having begun his journey with Mowgli as a mentee in 2013. 6 years later, he joined the SANAD Lebanon Mentoring Programme as a volunteer mentor; giving back and supporting others in the same way he was supported. With Lebanon undergoing a period of unrest coupled with the ongoing pandemic limiting movement, his relationship has weathered various storms and is still going strong. His sole inspiration is to take his mentee to the next level where she can fulfil her potential.

Antonios shares more below…

Joining the SANAD Lebanon Mentoring Programme

I was a Mowgli Mentee in 2013 and developed a really good relationship with my then mentor, who I’m still in touch with, and consider a friend. I felt that it was time for me to give back and also gain access to Mowgli’s rich network of professionals.

Developing the mentoring relationship

“Like any relationship, the foundation of a good mentoring relationship begins with friendship and getting to know each other at a deeper level. The first step for me was getting to know my mentee Tatiana and her family. Last year, I took a 2-hour trip to visit her family twice. She’s a driven entrepreneur who is focused on her goals and equally holds herself accountable to them. I appreciate her curiosity and the fact that she explores ideas outside her core business. Tatiana is establishing a gymnasium for women in Baalbek .

While this pandemic has affected the goals we set, we still keep in touch through calls and messages, and have already discussed changing the goals to fit the current situation.”

Antonios emphasises on the need to always have back-up plans and be open to change. With his support, Tatiana applied and qualified for a funding opportunity. She is also working on taking her fitness programmes online.

Self-reflection during COVID

If things continue as they are, I may have to close down my business in a month. I have learnt to stay positive and have begun looking for opportunities outside my traditional business model. We have to be intentionally positive as this helps unlock a new level of creativity. We hear this over and over again, setting new goals and adapting is key! Opportunities may not be a word that many want to hear at a time when we feel uncertain but we must think of the possibility of things never going back to normal and identify ways to move forward.

On a personal level, I have learnt the importance of managing my time especially now that many of us have plenty of time. I’m taking up a lot of online courses and trying my best to stay active with gardening; a new interest that has helped me reconnect with mother nature. I’ve also noticed that I use mentoring skills while interacting with my children.”

The value of networking and peer mentoring

“One of the things that has really supported me during this period is the mentor support network we have. Half the mentors in this programme are going through the same business risks as mine. As they say a problem shared is half solved, we’re sharing a lot and have gotten a number of solutions through our peer network. These are some of the greatest minds we have in Lebanon, if anyone is going to give you a great perspective during this time, it’s one of these mentors. I’m extremely grateful to this network.

Not only are we discussing our personal challenges, but how collectively we can support our mentees. Things are even more difficult for the micro-entrepreneurs we mentor, and it’s important for them to know that we are available to continue supporting them.”

A word of encouragement for mentees:

Take charge of your relationships — mentoring is all about supporting your needs

Take advantage of the support network within both mentee and mentor groups. This is a community that’s willing to give and support without asking or expecting anything in return

One of the most common questions we’ve received over the past few weeks is how can mentors continue supporting mentees when they have their own fears around what’s happening in the world right now. Responding to this, Antonios shares,

“As mentors, we’re not here to coach or provide advisory services. It’s important to have healthy boundaries and understand that your role is not to provide solutions, but act as a sounding board empowering the mentee to find solutions from within. Understanding this helps relieve some pressure of trying to constantly provide solutions.

Mentors also must be aware of their emotions. If you’re in a negative space, communicate with your mentee on the need for space. The resources Mowgli shared during the mentor training workshop are also useful for self-reflection. One that I have been constantly referring to is the wheel of life which I revisit to identify my gaps.”

Looking at the future…

“Moving forward, I want to continue developing my mentoring relationship to one that is beneficial both to my mentee and myself, and beyond this programme. The first thing I’ll do after COVID is go visit Tatiana and map out how we can get back on track, and nurture her into a leader and future mentor. Being a mentor has been more beneficial to me than being a mentee. It has helped me grow in a lot of ways.

I’m also looking forward to the new normal. This period has made me realise that time is my most important asset. I’m looking to change how I work. I intend to keep up with the healthier lifestyle; drinking less coffee, working decent hours and creating time to do things that re-energise my body and mind. Maybe I will even adopt using a bicycle instead of a car. The possibilities are endless.”