Vanessa Hoffmann completed her dual studies in business informatics in 2017. As a digital mentor she gave advice to General Manager Ursula Redeker on how to manage her tasks digitally with the help of a special tool.

A lot of things in life have to fit: job, outfit, partner­—and this does not only apply to love life! It also has to "match" in digital mentoring, a programme run by Roche in Mannheim and Penzberg, where colleagues help each with digital tools. The first mentors and mentees report on how the learning approach becomes a success.

If the chemistry is right, something great can come from which both sides benefit. In the case of the Digital Mentoring program, this involves the assignment of mentors to mentees: colleagues who feel fit to use digital tools pass on this knowledge. Because the young colleagues, who belong to the digital natives generation, are often particularly fit, this can—but does not have to­—result in a reverse mentoring situation where experienced managers learn from more junior colleagues. In a pilot phase, the digitally affine graduates of the Cooperative State University, Vanessa Hoffmann, Kevin Latusinski and Johannes Hill, showed three members of the senior management of Roche Diagnostics GmbH, which digital helpers can make their everyday work easier.

Make a wish...

Before they start, the learning couples make arrangements. Questions can be clarified like: In which areas do I want to become more digital? What is particularly important to me? What are questions or needs?

Then the hot phase begins: The Digital Mentor accompanies his protégé at work for a whole day. "Especially the beginning was enormously valuable so that Kevin understands how I work and where there are starting points for improvements through digital tools," explains Henning Franke, Head of Digital Transformation. Johannes Hill also reaffirms: "Direct exchange is essential. This way we can try out new solutions directly—and experience our first successes."

Reuniting is fun

Until the next meeting, the mentor gives his mentee small tasks to carry out and then have a look at what worked out well and where difficulties occurred. "We're talking about completely new things, such as the possible uses of augmented reality at Roche, but also about general issues, for example: 'How do my documents remain stored for longer than the regular 3 years', or: 'How do I pair my new headset with my laptop'," Vanessa Hoffmann describes her experience with General Manager Ursula Redeker.

In order to achieve a lasting benefit, the couples meet for regular follow-ups. Mentee Volker Lodwig, Head of Public Policy, sees this as a great opportunity: "I can keep asking the experts directly, especially about new applications and technology, so I keep in touch with the latest trends."

And what do the Digital Natives say?

It's a really great feeling to be able to help.

"Being able to work so closely with an experienced manager at the beginning of your career in particular is super exciting. The insights and experience are invaluable. As a mentor and mentee, both sides benefit so much from simply getting involved without fear of doing something wrong," Vanessa is convinced. "Besides, it's a really great feeling to be able to help."

Each tandem has its own experience of how intergenerational exchange works even better. Another option is that mentor and mentee switch to the next partner after a certain time—to receive and offer even more suggestions.

In the meantime, many other colleagues of all ages have signed up for the mentoring program. We are curious what experiences they will make!