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Humentum Matchmaking

April 12, 2022

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Najwa Al Abdallah

Director of Corporate Services
Money Advice Trust


Zeynep Erisek

Corporate Finance Manager

Humentum’s Mentorship Program provides an opportunity for networking, skill-building, and fostering relationships among individuals within the membership. The program pairs members for conversations, mentoring, and professional development, creating bonds across organizations while promoting peer learning and broadening ideas within the sector. Zeynep Erisek and Najwa Al Abdallah share their experience and the friendship they have formed along the way.

Matching mentees and mentors

Back in July 2021, we were matched by Humentum to work together. Zeynep as the mentee and Najwa as the mentor, although these roles are sometimes reversed as we continue to learn from each other.

Zeynep is a corporate finance manager. While working at an international development organization, she participated in Humentum’s virtual roundtables designed to bring young professionals together to talk with their peers. After working five years for an NGO, Zeynep was at a point where she was struggling to make a serious career decision. When she learned that Humentum offered a mentorship program, she immediately knew she wanted to join.

Zeynep was at a crossroads and needed some encouragement to decide her career path and ultimately take action. That said, she didn’t know where to start, what to do, or what changes she needed to make at that point. She wanted to talk to an experienced professional openly about her struggle and career plans. Listening to a success story from a woman who worked in a similar industry, and experienced comparable feelings before, helped Zeynep find her way.

Najwa is an Associate Consultant with Humentum. A non-executive and executive director, she has over 20 years of global experience in the nonprofit sector. Najwa is currently Director of Corporate Services at Money Advice Trust and a Trustee of International Rescue Committee UK. In previous roles, she was a member of a mentoring scheme and received training in mentoring and coaching. Najwa wanted to put her skills to use outside her day-to-day job to give back to the community and Humentum.

Getting started

We had our first meeting to:

  • “break the ice”
  • set expectations
  • agree on timings

We started meeting once every fortnight via Teams as we live in two different countries; Najwa in the UK and Zeynep in the US. We found times that worked for both of us, and our meetings became something to look forward to.

By the end of the six-month program Zeynep tried applying for roles in the private sector to learn more about the process and the chances of securing a position. Excitingly, she started a new job in January 2022 and is thriving and utilizing her skills and knowledge while learning new ones. On the other hand, Najwa has gained a lifelong friend and looks forward to hosting Zeynep in Kingston and showing her London soon!

Zeynep’s top three takeaways:

  • I had a great manager as my internal mentor, but as an external mentor, Najwa broadened my perspective; I could talk about my career life openly with her.
  • Najwa didn’t solve my issues or problems, but more importantly, she let me come up with answers by asking me critical questions.
  • I was ready to move forward but needed a plan. Najwa helped me realize my potential and encouraged me to act by advising me on some useful techniques.

A lasting bond

We found the program very useful and highly recommend it to our fellow professionals. To make the best use of your time, we encourage you to be open and honest, listen actively, and appreciate the efforts of both parties. The mentor will not always have the answer to all the mentee’s questions. Still, they will be able to bounce ideas, offer their experience, lessons learned from their successes and failures, and ultimately provide a different perspective. Mentoring is like every other relation; it is about having and giving and sharing and receiving (inspired by Joey’s sermon at Chandler’s and Monica’s wedding in Friends!). There is no greater job than the joy of giving and knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life.

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