In our increasingly competitive workplaces, the multiple benefits of being mentored are not to be underestimated. For individuals, studies show that good mentoring can lead to better career success, more leadership opportunities and help you navigate promotions.  

Moreover, organisations that embrace mentoring are rewarded with higher levels of employee engagement, retention, and knowledge sharing. In fact, mentoring has proved so beneficial that 71% of the US’s Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees. 

In short, when done right, mentoring can be life changing for an individual, and highly rewarding for employers and organisations. 

Mentoring also works hand in hand with sponsorship. Whilst mentoring provides the opportunity for leaders to offer advice, support, and share their experiences to boost the success of mentees, sponsorship invites senior leaders to invest their reputation, influence, and power in putting forward their sponsored person for new opportunities, promotions, and projects. They make themselves vulnerable and offer up their reputation as an assurance of their sponsored person’s talent and potential. The NAWO Mentoring Program will support our mentees to access sponsorship relationships in their organisations, and further their career aspirations.

We have a rich and diverse network of women who participate in our mentoring programs, and two of our mentors and mentees recently sat down with us so we could talk to them about their career journeys and what mentoring has meant to them.  

Mentoring is a great way for those who have benefited from mentoring to give back to their peers and be part of bettering gender balance in operations.

“Mentoring is a professional payback obligation we have towards our upcoming and younger colleagues (mentees). I have been lucky to have had some amazing mentors who realised the potential in me and helped me grow professionally and personally. I feel it is my time to repay, passing on the support to grow others in their journey. Personally, it is very fulfilling and energising for me to see people, and especially women, grow in technical and operational roles. Seeing your mentees succeed, no matter how small the step, is very rewarding for me.”   

Roya Khalil is a powerhouse in the NAWO community. A PhD qualified chemical engineer, she is currently Director of Research and Development at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers. Roya is in her second year of mentoring for NAWO and brings a genuinely humble and friendly approach while sharing her significant career experience and wisdom with other women.  

Roya takes her unique approach to supporting women within all her networks, including at Incitec Pivot. She models the premise of having ‘best friends’ at work as you would have outside of work. She sees these valuable relationships as the perfect vehicle to support women internally, and also to provide insightful and relevant professional feedback that women might not be given anywhere else. 

When she sat down to chat with us, Roya fondly shared a story about a NAWO Circle mentee: “This woman went on to successfully launch a new project (opened and launched a new retail store). Through the Mentoring Circle, this woman overcame the self-doubt that had hindered her ability to reach her goal.”  

Mentoring is an energy boost for leaders who love to see their colleagues and peers grow in their careers, meet their goals and thrive in their potential. 

‘’Mentoring and supporting women is an energy-adder for me. It is wonderful to connect to people to workshop ideas and concerns and to find a way forward. Often at the start of a new mentoring relationship, women really look at mentoring as something that takes away from their work and needs to be on their own time. When we can get the conversion to understanding that developing yourself and that learning and networking is good for the business and benefits both the business and you, we see massive energy created. It shifts the whole mindset from being a super doer to leadership. What a win!” 

Kari Banick is COO at Blackwoods and a star NAWO volunteer mentor. Kari’s personal approach to professional relationships is above and beyond what is normally seen or expected. Kari advocates whenever she can for employers to market roles in a way that is attractive to female talent. 

Kari volunteers her time with NAWO as a mentor and we couldn’t be more grateful. But it doesn’t end there. Outside of NAWO, Kari is involved in Mentor Walks, a women’s start-up that facilitates one hour walking mentoring sessions for women. She is also a Menttium mentor; a US-based international mentoring organisation which matches mentors and mentees globally. Kari relishes the opportunities these initiatives provide for her to connect with and inspire women. 

More from Kari: 

“I really like the visual someone once shared with me: We have two hands, turn around and catch the hand of two women and pull them up behind you, amplify their voices and their good work. Turn around and look forward and use those hands to push a woman ahead of you forward in the same way, amplify their voice, good work, and leadership. Sponsoring a group like Women in IT Affinity Group (WITAG) creates space for trust and the conversations that need to happen to change the culture, not the women.”

When you’re paired with the right mentor, you can cover a lot of ground and focus on nurturing the skills you want to take the next steps in your career. 

“This time last year I had been at Ampol just over 6 months when my leadership team gave me the opportunity to be a Mentee in the NAWO program. I thought a lot about what I wanted to get out of the program and came up with some topics to work through like personal branding, imposter syndrome, career direction and boundaries.” 

Tracy Johnston is currently a Learning and Development Coach at Ampol and has been for 20 months. Over the years, she has experienced incredible growth as a professional and is truly inspiring. For twenty years, Tracy was a nanny and at the age of 40, she decided it was time for a career change. 

It wasn’t always easy, as she was often faced with the stigma of later stage career changes and met with cynicism about her ability to move into a different industry. The move was challenging, but Tracy believed in herself and was adamant to enter the operations industry.  

She started by working in retail and quickly became assistant manager. From there, she moved into an L&D role with Lagardere Travel and Bunnings before moving into her L&D Coaching role with Ampol. 

Tracy generously shared what the NAWO Mentoring Program has meant to her:  

“Through projects I created for myself and discussions that resulted from my findings, my mentor provided me with a sounding board and a safe space to work on the areas I needed to. I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked myself and my colleagues some hard questions. 

My mentor helped me evaluate the information I received from the discussion I was having and think of how to best utilise it to my benefit.  

After completing program, I can honestly say I have learned a lot about myself, how I want to be and how to self-check on how I am doing. The Mentoring Program at NAWO was a great gift to me, I can see how they took the time to match the Mentors and Mentees to the best of their ability for the right fit. Like with any training, you get out of this as much as you put in, I definitely made myself vulnerable during this process and I was extremely lucky I had an amazing mentor that created a safe environment to be vulnerable in.” 

Group mentoring can be a great space for learning, exchanging ideas, and building strong meaningful connections that last.

“When I was nominated to join the NAWO Mentoring Program I was not sure what to expect but having heard great things, it was an opportunity that I jumped at. My preference was a group setting (as opposed to one on one) where I could learn from my mentor but also be able to meet and learn from other mentees. “ 

Cailyn Incoll-McKay is a HR professional and Mental Health First Aider working in an industry that spans retail and warehousing in the truck and trailer industry. Throughout her career  she has seen the challenges faced by women across varying industries and has been determined to play her part in helping women overcome those challenges. 

Whilst she continues to influence and advocate, she is proud to be working for MaxiPARTS, who proudly support gender balance, work life balance, and women in achieving their career goals. 

She shared with us her thoughts on our Mentoring Program and how it has influenced her role and career: 

“The program is highly interactive where you truly get out as much as you are willing to put in. With our mentor’s support, guidance and encouragement the group was able to establish a strong connection quickly, where we could all contribute and share our experiences in a safe space. 

Our mentor was a great fit for our group, perfectly matched and created a safe environment where we were able to share our knowledge, lived experiences and perspectives. Our mentor also shared his experiences with us and it was incredibly valuable to learn from his journey.  

I would recommend the program to anyone who is wanting to invest in their professional development and bolster their skillset.” 


About NAWO’s Mentoring Program.

We are now accepting mentor and mentee applications for our 2023 Mentoring Program intake. Registrations close on Friday, 18 November.