Mentee feedback on WIMnet NSW’s 2017 mentoring program

  • By Fiona Robertson, WIMnet NSW

Once again WIMnet NSW’s mentoring program has drawn overall ratings from its mentor and mentee participants in excess of 4.5 out of 5 at the conclusion of its third year of operation. Dr Ali Burston of Metisphere, the Program’s Director, presented the program feedback at the closing event in Sydney on 27 October 2017.

But the highlight of the evening was a presentation by mentee Cheryl Holland, Marketing and Logistics Superintendent at the Bengalla Mine in NSW’s Hunter Valley, who came to the program as a working mother trying to get clarity about her career path. Cheryl is a qualified accountant with 13 years’ financial and commercial experience in the coal industry.

Cheryl admitted to being a little uncertain about what to expect from the program. However, with the benefit of the initial training session to help her prepare, she came away from her first meeting with her mentor feeling this was a very good match and recognising that the mentoring sessions could be structured to her individual needs.

In sharing her challenges with the audience, Cheryl highlighted some common reasons that mentees sign up to the program – clarifying career objectives, work-life balance considerations (particularly with a family to manage), building self-confidence, the opportunity to network and improving public speaking skills.

Cheryl’s mentor, Lorna Clarke, was well-credentialed to assist based on more than 20 years’ experience in the oil and gas sector, initially coming from a finance background but having spent the past 15 years working in commercial roles at a senior management level. Lorna now runs her own consulting company and has been able to successfully juggle her work-life balance raising a family whilst also having a very fulfilling (and successful) career.

For Cheryl, some key learnings were the importance of seeking feedback and being prepared to take on challenges – in this instance the challenges that her mentor put forward that had surprisingly good outcomes. Cheryl also developed an appreciation for the benefits of networking and organised a breakfast for the Hunter Valley participants during the program helping to cement the relationships developed through the formal parts of the program.

In conclusion Cheryl shared her two key takeaways:

  • don’t negotiate with yourself – be confident and always ask – you never know what the result might be
  • you get out what you are prepared to put in – so, reflecting on her reservations about agreeing to do this presentation she told us to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’

Formalities included acknowledgement of each of the individual mentors and sincere thanks to all of the sponsors, comprising gold sponsor Orica Minova, silver sponsors ANZ Bank, Coal & Allied, Glencore Coal Assets Australia, Port Waratah Coal Services, Weir Minerals, Whitehaven Coal, event sponsors EY, BHP and McCullough Robertson and scholarship providers Metisphere and WIMnet NSW.

The evening continued as program participants took full advantage of the opportunity to network and judging by the level of chatter and movement in the room, many links have been forged for the future.

WIMnet NSW is finalising plans for its 2018 mentoring program, with sponsorship arrangements in the process of being concluded. Mentee applications opened on 29 November and will remain open until January 26 2018.

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