Expand your horizons with a career sponsor

The Resilience Formula is delighted to introduce our guest writer Danielle Ballardie, Head of Cash Markets & Deputy Head of Markets & Global Sales at Euronext. Thanks, in part, to her highly successful career in the financial sector, Danielle recognises the huge benefits gained by making the right connections at work, and how knocking on the right person’s door at the right time can be extremely advantageous to moving up the corporate ladder at a rewarding pace. In this piece Danielle talks of the virtues of acquiring a sponsor in the workplace.

What is a sponsor?

According to wikipedia “A sponsor is the individual or group that provides the support”.  In the context of a career sponsor it is about support and about being in a position to positively influence someone’s career.  Opportunity comes through self-belief and often what others think of you & your capabilities.  Having a sponsor can help you to find opportunities, take on new projects/roles, make good career moves and get paid more. 

How is it different to a mentor?

A mentor acts like a sounding board, listening to the challenges you are facing and providing advice from their own experience and knowledge to help you overcome obstacles and achieve more.  A sponsor also does that and is in a position to do much more.  Whether in your reporting line, senior management or outside your current company, the key is that they can influence the level of responsibility and opportunities available to you.  They have ‘got your back’ and can promote your credibility to others in all sorts of networks within and outside your current company.

Why is it important to have sponsorship?

“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together” Paul Ryan

Going it alone will get you so far, but truly working with others, supporting others and helping one another to grow will lead to greater careers and lives.  Sponsors know that.  They benefit from your relationship often as much as you benefit from theirs.  They have the position, influence and desire to help you achieve your goals and grow in your career.  Research shows that people with sponsors can achieve more.*

How do you get one (or more)?

In my experience and what I hear from others typically is that getting a sponsor happens naturally, it’s an organic process as you build rapport and credibility with someone influential.  Unlike a mentor which is often explicitly agreed upon, a sponsor tends to form over time in an informal way.  That said, it’s worthwhile actively thinking about who does sponsor you and if you think someone could play that role, get to know them better, find out what they think of you and discuss career development and your ambitions with them.  That way you’ll find out their level of sponsorship for you and you can act upon that to build your credibility.  One sponsor is great, many is amazing.