Former mentee Helen Tarkanyi has revealed how the Drinks Association’s 2019 Inclusive Leadership Program transformed her career.
Tarkanyi shared her experiences and advice with the 2020 Inclusive Leadership Program cohort during a Zoom panel discussion.
She recently moved into a new role as Channel Marketing Manager at Brown-Forman Australia and said that while many different elements played into her career progression, the Inclusive Leadership Program taught her to play to her strengths.
“One of the modules focused on looking at leadership in terms of people management, problem solving, awareness and strategic thinking as opposed to just your industry experience,” she explained. “Probably without that I wouldn’t have had as much faith in myself to seek out a new opportunity and have those early conversations, as I’ve only been in the drinks industry for three years.”
Tarkanyi added that she also now sits on the Brown-Forman Diversity and Inclusion board and calls on her Inclusive Leadership Program learnings every day.
“I have a deeper awareness and confidence in what true diversity and inclusion means, but also how it can actually contribute to planning and the way we do business,” she noted.
“It’s also heightened my awareness for every day meetings – both internal and external. I remember sitting in a meeting with an external partner where I was the only female on a long table. Although the meeting was about my project, for the first 10 minutes no one addressed or spoke directly to me – quite honestly before taking part in the Inclusive Leadership Program I would have just allowed that to continue and play out, but my heightened awareness around inclusion in meetings gave the confidence that it was right to speak up and challenge the conversation.”
Tarkanyi admitted she expected the Serendis-led mentoring experience to be a typical training style program, with a focus on “more surface-level learning”. However, she found the mix between the group learning sessions and mentor one-on-ones extremely useful to reflect upon and discuss.
She suggested mentees consciously consider the program’s content and how it might impact their day-day decision making and responses in the workplace as early in the process as possible.
“The earlier you can start, the quicker you will really see and feel the change,” she said.
She also said she found it invaluable to be mentored by someone who wasn’t directly associated with her company.
“It’s very different to just talking to your manager about your own growth or team dynamics or projects, because your mentor is so far removed from the every day and have no prior knowledge or bias,” she explained.
“My mentor was also from the digital space and had a predominantly male team so his perspective was completely fresh and new.”
Tarkanyi also felt the discussions she had with her mentor resulted in positive outcomes for both of them.
“I hope that we both benefited from the partnership, as sometimes I would share challenges that would align with something similar that he had or a situation that he hadn’t given thought to, but then did as a result of our conversations,” she explained.
The Inclusive Leadership Program is a Premium Service offered by the Drinks Association.
Pictured main: Tarkanyi with Michiel Tops, Global Marketing – Digital Director, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, who was a panelist at an Inclusive Leadership event during last year’s program.