26 Aug What the mentees are taking from Mentor Walks
Since we started Mentor Walks in 2016, we’ve helped 1,866 mentees across Australia, and counting. Thanks to the support of 283 mentors like you, women across the nation have found the confidence to shift gears in their career, ask for that pay rise or take that scary leap of faith into business ownership.
Over the last few months we’ve had the pleasure of catching up with some of the mentees after their walks to see how the advice they received has panned out.
From acing job interviews to striking the perfect work/life balance, here’s what a few women had to say.
Finding lost confidence
After her former mentor (and then CEO) resigned from the company, Geelong mentee Melissa felt that she had no one in her corner.
“For the first time, I didn’t have guidance and I put my trust into untrustworthy hands. The confidence that I had worked so hard to gain was gone,” says Melissa.
At Mentor Walks, she was paired with mentor Jane Den Hollander, former Vice Chancellor of Deakin University.
“Jane told me that in life – and in the workplace – there is going to be negativity. There will be people who don’t have the right agenda, but it is how you conduct yourself and how you control your own behaviour that counts. You can’t change the actions of others but you can choose to be the bigger person.
“It took two strong, talented women (my personal mentor and former CEO Bernadette Uzelac and MW mentor Jane) to tell and show me that I am already succeeding by voicing my issues and concerns, and sometimes having a voice and an educated opinion can be intimidating to others who expect you to nod and be submissive.
“Both women told me what I already knew, but needed to be told. I can succeed. I have what it takes to hold my head up high and be confident as the woman I am.”
Getting a new job
Brisbane mentee Angela Timbs came to Mentor Walks at the exact right time. The day following her walk, she had a job interview. After a career in marketing and communications, she decided she wanted to put herself on a new path and follow her passion for the arts.
She came to the walk seeking advice on how to best pitch herself and her skillset in her interview and, lucky for her, she was paired with a mentor who also harbours a strong passion for the arts, outgoing CEO of Screen Queensland Tracy Viera.
“The advice from my mentor made all the difference to my state of mind going into the interview,” says Angela.
“Tracy really did embody so many of the qualities I want to emulate in my own life. She had some great advice about owning my successes in an interview situation – not to downplay my individual contribution to a group outcome when talking about examples of my work.”
“This was quite a simple insight but turned out to be incredibly helpful when I went to my interview, as it really helped boost my confidence.”
And the best part is, she got the job!
Finding the balance
Wollongong mentee Emma Kucelj is at an important stage in her life and career. She’s getting married next year and starting to think about having children. She’s having to think about the challenges that many women face at her age: how can I balance my professional work with my personal/family life?
“My career is a huge part of my identity. I don’t want to have to compromise or give that up. By asking the work/life balance question, I wanted to hear reassurance from other women in established careers that as a woman I can maintain both a career and a family at the same time. I wanted to hear from someone who had done it and succeeded at both – and I did.”
Emma’s mentor, Deb Hughes Organisational Development Manager at BlueScope, helped her to realise that “women can in fact have it all. We can change careers, move around and upward while also having children, provided we have the active support from the systems and institutions that are there to protect us.
“Deb explained she had multiple different roles and responsibilities during her career and worked in a variety of departments and developed her skills broadly over her career,” says Emma.
“Some people see movement sideways, or changing roles often, as a step back down the career ladder. It’s not a weakness and this mentality needs to change. It means you’ve been exposed to different environments, workplace cultures, working styles and leadership styles. It’s valuable to have that diverse experience on teams.”
Trying something new
When she came to Mentor Walks, Wollongong mentee Jennifer Lewin was seeking advice around how to manage and work effectively in a relatively new business sector.
After working at Mercer for over a decade, she was still able to find a new role within that business that challenged her.
At Mentor Walks, she was paired with mentor Leila Hogan – organisational development manager with the Wollongong City Council – who was able to offer value by sharing her own personal experiences.
“Leila gave an overview of her role within the council and the changes that she was currently working through to create a positive culture within the business. She also shared her experiences working against change resistance. This was something that both myself and my fellow mentee were very keen to delve further into and we explored this further throughout our walk,” says Lewin.
As an avid lifelong learner, attending an event like Mentor Walks was just what Jennifer needed.
“Learning happens in so many ways, we learn through doing, through organised training and from our own experiences. To be able to think outside the box, or see from another’s perspective, we need to learn from other people’s experiences and then connect that with our own. Mentoring is an excellent facilitator to this way of learning.”