Mentoring: Jon Wardle

Jon Wardle started a year-long mentoring relationship with Sophie Turner Laing, the CEO of the Endemol Shine Group, just prior to becoming director of the National Film and Television School.

“That year talking with Sophie came at a critical moment for me. It was wonderful to have someone with so much experience to share ideas with and test out my thinking on,” he said. “Sophie was a brilliant mentor because in the way she talked and worked with me she was saying ‘Let’s go do it’, not ‘You go do it’.”

He said the meetings with Sophie always gave him a huge boost. “Sophie is one of the smartest people I’ve ever ‘worked’ with. Not only does she have incredible business and creative instincts, but she is a really decent, emotionally intelligent person who operates with real authenticity. Chatting with her played a key role in shaping how I still approach leading the NFTS,” he said.

“I still get the occasional encouraging message from Sophie, her ongoing support for me and the School means a huge amount.”

When the opportunity came to pay it forward with the ScreenSkills mentoring programme, Jon signed up straight away. “I had never been a mentor before but had obviously benefited a huge amount personally from being mentored,” he said.

He was matched by ScreenSkills with Danielle Duncan-Rosembert, then a final year student at Bolton University studying SFX make-up effects.

“ScreenSkills doing the matching was a big thing for me. It felt a bit arrogant to offer to be someone’s mentor, so being matched with someone who had already asked for mentoring made getting started really easy.”

The other worry is that it will take a lot of time, he added. “But when I was being mentored Sophie, who leads a global company, always had time for me. She would fly in from South Africa, land at Heathrow and come straight to her meeting with me. That afternoon she would be flying to New York.”

Jon is now promoting the opportunity to become a mentor to graduates of the NFTS. “NFTS graduates have so much to offer. So far we have helped get more than 20 graduates signed up as mentors. It helps that I can say I’m doing it personally and that I enjoy it,” he said

“Danielle makes being her mentor really easy. She is really switched on. She knows what she wants and she is doing all she can to make it happen. Alongside her degree course she is doing extra short courses and trying to get as much work experience as possible. She always turns up to our meetings with questions and ideas she wants to discuss.”

Jon will continue to work with Danielle for the remainder of this year. “With the pandemic, I’m busier than ever. But like Sophie made time for me, I want to make the time to help Danielle through what is a really tricky moment for her in joining the industry as a new entrant.”


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