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Getting your first big break in business can be daunting – sometimes all you need are a few words of wisdom and a strong mentor to set you on the right path. To that end, Marie Claire created the Inspire & Mentor programme, in which today’s most influential women share their experience and expertise to help others forge their own successful careers. Don’t miss your chance to take part: entries for 2012 close this Friday.

Inspire & Mentor | Marie Claire's Trish Halpern and Smith co-founder Tamara Heber-PercyMr & Mrs Smith know all about the challenges of growing a baby brandlet from inspirational infancy to fully-functional market leader, which is why co-founder Tamara Heber-Percy (above right) was delighted to join Marie Claire‘s eight-strong mentor panel as ‘The Web Expert‘, alongside bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes and luxury fashion guru Nadja Swarovski, among others.

We quizzed Marie Claire editor-in-chief Trish Halpern (above left) – another of the UK’s most inspiring women – about the scheme and some of its success stories…

What was the inspiration behind Inspire & Mentor?
The scheme was launched in 2010. The UK was in a recession and young people – especially young women – were finding it tough to get the careers and jobs they wanted. We wanted to help our readers with their careers. But more than that, we also wanted to promote mentoring as something our readers should think about trying – and offering to other women.

Which mentee has been the greatest success story to date?
There have been so many success stories, but one of our biggest successes was Clare Watt-Stevens, 27, who founded BoBelle accessories. She was mentored by Kate Bostock, who is the executive director for clothing at Marks & Spencers; Clare’s products are now stocked at Marks & Spencers.

Who has been your biggest business or personal inspiration?
I work in an industry full of inspiring women – from my predecessor Marie O’Riordan to my friend Jo Elvin. I’m lucky to work with inspiring women day in, day out.

In your opinion, are entrepreneurs born or made?
Born: you have to have the gut instinct to know if something going to be successful, as well as passion and drive – and you can’t teach passion and drive.

Inspire & Mentor with Marie Claire and Mr & Mrs SmithAny words of wisdom?
I love this quote: ‘Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are already doing it.’

Want to be mentored as part of Marie Claire‘s 2012 Inspire & Mentor campaign? Find out more and apply online before June 1 2012. 

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