MENTOR REVELS IN
learning experience While the benefits of mentoring for up-and-coming professional women are widely celebrated, less documented is the positive learning experience the relationship can have on even the most experienced mentor.
BELINDA STUCKENBERG SIGNED on as a mentor in the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) e-Mentoring Program to help other women in the mining, oil and gas sectors. She was surprised, however, to find that she too developed new skills. Having spent more than 20 years in the resource industry working extensively throughout South Africa, Mozambique, Canada and Australia, where she now works as a safety improvement manager with BHP Billiton, Stuckenberg felt it was time to give back. “I have always found value in having a mentor in the workplace, which is typically one of our senior leaders who I can use to bounce ideas off and get some coaching and advice,” she says of her own experience as a mentee. “What I bring to the role of mentor is the experience of working in different environments and different cultures, and I’m absolutely able to draw on those experiences to provide something valuable to the mentee.” That value, Stuckenberg believes, extends beyond the sage advice of an accomplished resource industry professional, to encompass more general woman-to-woman career guidance. “I think that we, as women, experience the workplace differently, and it depends on the organisation and on the culture,” she explains. “When I began my working career, I remember there was definitely a glass ceiling and you had to work a lot harder than your male colleagues to make any progress. “That’s changed today and some of the more progressive organisations recognise the need to have accelerator programs in place to enable women to reach those higher positions.
would never have ordinarily used.” While acknowledging the positive influence she has had on her mentee, Stuckenberg also speaks fondly of the The experience has grown my reciprocal learning experience. “I was apprehensive when I started skills around active listening, out, wondering if I am going to say the as it’s important to really right things and know the right things, understand your mentee. but I think in the first instance, you just need to have the confidence to get in there,” she says. “My experience, however, has equipped me with a good overview of the “The experience has grown my skills industry and how things works, especially around active listening, as it’s important to as a woman, which enables me to give really understand your mentee, what they something back and support other women want out of the program, and then how to in this industry.” provide that advice and coaching so they BHP Billiton is renowned for supporting can get some good results. its female workforce with family“I’ve learned that I can help others, and friendly programs to encourage career I’ve started to reflect, bringing some of progression. Through personal mentoring, the issues I’ve discussed with my mentee however, Stuckenberg is better placed to back to my own team, applying some help women navigate the career ladder. of the skills I’ve developed through the “One of the benefits of having a mentor program to play the role of a coach more outside of your organisation is they are often for my colleagues. “Participating in the program has given removed from your environment and able me the confidence and energy to do more, to reflect and provide advice on how to and I intend to take on another mentee. achieve positive outcomes,” she says. “It will be a different experience again, “This process has definitely raised my mentee’s confidence and enabled her but we will embark on that learning journey together.” RP to try different workplace strategies she
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