Sonya Trivedy - Executive Director of Income, Samaritans

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Sonya Trivedy

Sonya Trivedy who is Executive Director of Income at the Samaritans, tells us about how having a mentor helped with her career progression.

The early days

Growing up, I was always curious seeing my family support organisations such as CND and Greenpeace and I was also inspired by my uncle, whose career included working at Oxfam and Save the Children, and ended with a role at the United Nations.  This interest was reignited during my time at university – my environmental sciences degree included learning about the work of NGOs, and I remember thinking how much I’d like to work in the charity sector.

As with many graduates, I left university with debts to clear and bills to pay and tried a few different jobs, including an unexpectedly interesting stint at the Obituaries department at The Times, before landing a role in IT recruitment. After three years, I experienced a “what am I doing with my life?” moment and knew I wanted to explore working within a charity.  Luckily, my IT job was well-paid and I’d been able to save enough money to leave without having another role lined up immediately.

I actually went for a job with Help the Aged which I didn’t get, but instead was asked by John Thompson, who was in the role of corporate development manager at the time, if I’d volunteer with the organisation before I then started working as a temp in the charity’s events team. This was the start of not only my fundraising career journey, but also my incredible bond with John, who I always refer to as my “guardian angel.” It was John who encouraged me to go for my first permanent full-time paid fundraising role – within the corporate partnerships team at the Red Cross.

My mentoring journey

Some years later, whilst I was at Every Child, I was discussing the topic of mentors with my CEO, when she asked if I’d ever considered John, now the co-founder of Changing Business where he works as a fundraising consultant and recruiter, being my mentor. When I reached out to him, John said yes, and that was the start of our six-month mentoring journey.  There were so many helpful conversations we had, and I was reminded of these recently when I stumbled across my old notebook from our sessions together. One of the most valuable pieces of advice (out of many!) John gave me was when we talking about career progression. He suggested I get hold of a range of job descriptions for the role I ideally wanted to have, identify where there were gaps in my skillset, and strive to gain experience and knowledge in those areas.

Achieving my life goals

In my mentoring notebook, I had outlined two main life and career goals – to have a family, and to hold a “director of” position.

I remember posting on LinkedIn when I took the position of Director of Fundraising at Terrence Higgins Trust, by which point I’d also already started my family. Within five minutes of me putting the update up, John had commented on the post “all goals achieved”.

This simple acknowledgement of everything I’d worked so hard for – with John’s help and support – felt amazing.

If I had one piece of advice to anyone within the sector at any stage of their career it would be to consider getting a mentor, and to gravitate towards people that bring you joy and lift you up when choosing who to approach. Being mentored definitely had a positive impact on my career, and my outlook on life in general.

Sonya Trivedy
Sonya Trivedy
Executive Director of Income, Samaritans
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