5 mins with Danny Graham, ITP Mentor of the Year 2018

Can you tell us about your career background?

My background is in telecommunications. I first started out with BT as a trainee apprentice in 1979, and after completion of that I became a Technical Officer- with various roles within BT from transmission, private wires to data communication engineering installing modems and multiplexors.

In 1993 I moved from BT to Cellnet which was an internal move, as Cellnet was owned by BT at the time. I started as a base site engineer installing and maintaining the 2G network at the time and quickly felt with the aid of some great people and even better managers who saw the potential in me when maybe I did not, that I could achieve so much more given the right opportunity and support. So, in 2000 I was given the opportunity to set up the first official quality programme, this was all new to me but I knew I had the drive and passion to do well – not only for me personally, but for the people I had to manage as we had no real processes, tools or dedicated people at the time.

This was the real start of my journey within Cellnet/BT Cellnet/O2 and now Telefonica UK. Since then I have had various roles focusing on leading people, improving network quality, managing performance and most importantly, delivering a better customer experience. I often look back in my career and try and find the positives, if you focus on the positives it will allow you to become more positive and grow as a person.

Being a mentor is so important because the world and technology is moving so fast it’s hard for our up and coming people to sometimes see the woods from the trees. This is where mentors can offer the additional support and adviceand see the true potential in people and help them develop themselves toachieve more out of life in general.

Were you ever mentored?

No, I never formally had a mentor however I was fortunate enough to work and learnfrom some great people during my career.

What drove you to become a mentor?

 It was more around seeing people not achieving their full potential for whatever reason and giving back to others. During my many years of working I have been fortunate and lucky enough to have worked and learnt indirectly from some great people, managers and leaders, both internally and externally.

How long have you been mentoring?

Just over two years now.

What do you get from it?

Seeing people grow in confidence and become more productive gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I have been able to realise the impact a little support and guidance can achieve, where a person can go from feeling withdrawn, unable to reach their full potential and misunderstood to excelling in fields. The process has allowed me to learn from being a mentor as well, where I have also grown as a person in understanding that it is more productive to listen and provide guidance rather than solution.

How do you see mentoring helping young professionals?

Mentoring can play a big part in a young professional career. In this fast-moving world, where people get easily distracted, they need a sounding board and someone who can see their hidden potential, help them grow and display their ability to the company and themselves. Also, apprentice and graduate schemes are becoming more attractive, and so since it will be a first job for many of them, that guidance and support a mentor can provide will be essential to their development.

What advice would you give your peers who may be considering mentoring?

Do it! You will benefit from the experience and you will be helping people to grow and bebetter people in and outside of work

How did you feel about winning the ITP Mentor of the Year Award?

I feel overwhelmed and very proud that Sonam took the time out to put me forward for award and that the judges picked me as the winner. Winning any award is a great achievement and I take great pride in displaying it in the office where I hope it will inspire others.


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