Manaakitanga: Everyone needs a mentor

Written by Roxana Mocanu in COCOONERS N.8

April 26, 2024
4 min read
manaakitanga, people mentoring one to another at the table.

This article was first published in COCOONERS N.8 by Roxana Mocanu from Noosfera, one of the most valuable organizations one could walk with along the way to a better personal and professional development.

[ma naa’ki tan ga] — upholding the self respect/authority of others (mana) while growing their capacity. Aki is the task of urging someone to act. An invitational approach to learning, and of respect, generosity and care for others. (maōri)

My motto: “I ask you to be loyal to your transformation while I shift and twist in mine.”

The Context: Slowballisation*

Apparently, the golden age of globalization, in 1990–2010, was something to behold. Globalization has slowed from light speed to a snail’s pace in the past decade for several reasons: the cost of moving goods has stopped falling; multinational firms have found that global sprawl burns money and that local rivals often eat them alive; activity is shifting towards services, which are harder to sell across borders: scissors can be exported in 20 ft-containers, hair stylists cannot; Chinese manufacturing has become more self-reliant, so needs to import fewer parts.

Nations are running for the demographic dividend, defined as the accelerated economic growth that can occur as a population age structure matures, given strategic investments in health, education, economic policy, and governance.

The demographic window of opportunity in Europe has been created by the median age of population between 26–41 years. To pay all the dividends, countries prioritize education for all, entrepreneurship empowerment for women and broaden the reach of health services in rural and hard-to-reach communities.

*Slowbalisation is a term coined by Adjiedj Bakas, a Dutch trend watcher, in 2015 which describes a reaction against globalisation (The Economist).


My country faces a dramatic shrinkage of the talent due to a dynamic migratory phenomenon (the Romanians are the second world migrating population after the Syrians). The educational system is outdated and cut off from the labor market. We build 80% on rather traditional economy: manufacturing sector, agriculture, tourism, IT sector, BPOs (20% of GDP). Looking for bright, highly educated workforce, investors are struggling to recruit, retain and develop talents for complex tasks and projects. The unbalanced workforce demographics has urged us to explore the potential of the mentoring as main learning method, a spring for intergenerational bridge, knowledge and values transfer, a hope of raising the youth leaders autonomy.

Mentoring is a collection of thousands intergenerational conversation, on the same Betha frequency of thoughts” (Decalogue, Noosfera).

Mentoring the Millenials in Europe

What we do with great impact at Noosfera is to identify Game-changers and to invest in their development. Across Europe we struggle with the same challenges of the modern world of work:

  • develop new leadership competence;
  • address gender or generational imbalance;
  • solve the problem of youth unemployability and inactive population (including NEET);
  • deal with diversity and inclusion;
  • improve the retention, engagement, performance;
  • better use the potential of transformational processes (digital transformation, HR transformation);
  • address maternity and paternity needs;
  • resolve the talent scarcity menace overall.

For the new decade we will focus on celebrating the Onlyness, staying human while going through the digital transformation and re-creating fun and normality within progressive workplace!

Enable all the healthy business conversations across generations

Lessons learnt from “Noosferic” experience:

  1. it is crucial to allocate resources for mentoring the Game-Changer teams: time, money, competencies;
  2. the secret ingredients of healthy business conversations (trust, confidence, role-modelling) and simply need of people to be heard (become significant-other, rely on somebody) transform an organization in a very attractive workplace;
  3. there are subtle boundaries between being supportive to a team with Game-Changer mindset, creating space and building autonomy.

We are prepared to celebrate wisdom transfer and connect generations within diverse international community, to share knowledge and build upon collective intelligence at work.

As a Mentee, I express myself entire gratitude to my Mentors, women who ‘gave birth to me’ and men who ‘raised me’: to David Clutterbuck (developmental mentoring, entrepreneurship), to David Simmonds (Learning & Development), to Marian Stas (be a trainer), to Marius Brasoveanu (be a tutor, transition from a local to a multinational corporation), to Linda Holbeche (Employee Engagement, Reward, Organisational Development), to Naomi Stanford (Organisational Design), to Paul Tolchinsky (OD, professional networking), to my father (for family values).

As a Mentor, I have been honored to contribute to the development of young people.

With the right support and freedom to pursue their imagination, they have the right potential to transform the ways in which the team pursue their dreams. They are likely to thrive in any organisation that values innovation, and creativity, and a genuine capacity to ‘think outside the box’ and to enhance ‘safe to fail’ cultures that encourage experimentation in the process of innovation and creativity. Learning dialogues with people like them are just solar flares. It’s the amazing talent, the brightness, the game-changer attitude shaping this leaders generation.

COCOONERS is our half-yearly publication, printed out in a very limited number of (recycled-paper) copies, and released in digital version. You can read more about it here:

This is the account of our staff at Cocoon Pro. Wish to know who are the people in Cocoon curating our content production?Have a look at the people page on our website here. For any question or feedback we would be happy to hear from you! Reach out here: