Mentoring Tandem Nora Els and Friederike Ott

“An outside perspective is incredibly helpful”

After her maternity leave, TUM Alumni Nora Els was looking for support for her return to work. In TUM Alumni Friederike Ott, she not only found her perfect mentor, but through her assistance she also found a new job.

Already during her parental leave after giving birth to her first child, TUM Alumni Dr. Nora Els asked herself a lot of questions: She had just finished her doctorate, was highly motivated and wanted to return to working full-time. However, due to the economic situation in the pandemic this was not an option with her previous employer. Was this perhaps the time to start her own business and set up a company?

“I knew that I wanted to start working soon and wanted to find my way out of academia and into the field,” she says, “but I also had some bad experiences when I mentioned in my applications that I had a child.” That’s why she applied for TUM Mentoring Professional, in which alumni support other alumni as sparring partners and provide advice and their experience. According to Nora Els this was a stroke of luck, because she was put in contact with TUM Alumni Friederike Ott, who immediately provided her with active support.

“My mentor always manages to meet me exactly where I am with my problem and situation and points out perspectives from the outside that I sometimes do not see from within the situation.” (Nora Els)

Friederike Ott has been undergoing professional change again and again, roughly every five years she was assigned new areas of responsibility: “The freedom of mind and the creative freedom that came with it was definitely significant”, she says today. Since 1985 she has held various management positions and then went into business for herself in 2016. Since then, she has been working as a freelance trainer and coach and consequently knows the issues Nora Els deals with not only from personal experience. And she is happy to share her knowledge – also within the TUM Alumni Network.

“In the application process, she helped me to be more confident in my cover letter and the way I present myself”, she says. She supported her in “analyzing my role in complex situations and conversations and pointed out possible solutions.” Especially the view from outside is incredibly helpful as well as indicating new perspectives, “which I myself sometimes don’t see in the situation”. Within a few weeks, a new employment at Climate Alliance Tyrol opened up for Nora Els.

“I was thrilled and pleased by how much my mentee trusted me and how open-minded she is.” (Friederike Ott)

Since March 2020 they have talked on the phone several times and, when traveling was possible again after Corona, they soon met up in Innsbruck. Even after a successful job hunt, the support continues: “It is very nice to know that I can always ask her if I am unsure about a decision.” Although decisions and actions have to ultimately taken by herself, “her  experienced, neutral view is incredibly valuable,” Nora Elssays. “I never thought I could learn so much from mentoring and would recommend it to anyone.”

Find out more about TUM Mentoring Professional.