This year’s Inclusive Leadership Program kicked off in Sydney on 12 May and for some, the process will take them to entirely new territory. But whatever lies ahead over the next six months, there are sure to be plenty of learnings for all participants.
At the Kirribilli Club in Sydney, a handful of mentors and mentees from last year’s program spoke to the crop of this year’s participants – 23 pairs in all – about what was, for the most part, a ‘virtual’ mentoring journey in 2020.
Amy Miles, Senior Brand Manager, Pernod Ricard said that the program: “exceeded her expectations”. Indeed, it was a very happy reunion for her and her mentor, Emma Beard, Enterprise Services Director at Lion who met in person on the evening for the very first time.
For Beard and Miles, while they followed the formal learning and modules, the best opportunities for growth came about when the two of them sat with moments of uncertainty and examined what was at the heart of it. That was when “the real nuggets of learning” were found, said Beard.
Prior to commencing the program, mentees outline in their submissions what sort of professional development they are seeking and the Serendis team then go about trying to match mentees and mentors as best they can.
Matthew Bazeley, National Sales Director at Brown-Foreman was a mentor last year and said that his mentee and he did not get off to the smoothest of starts. He said it was not clear to either participant why they had been matched.
“We were light and shade. It seemed odd and we were figuring each other out. But there is a science to it. It just takes time and just staying on the journey” he said.
In the end, the face to face meeting opportunities were what worked best for Matt and his mentee and the program proved rewarding for both of them in the end.
Serendis Leadership’s Bianca Havas is facilitating the program again this year along with Julie Thompson. She reminded participants that while they may ask for a certain set of supports from people, sometimes “they might not always get what they want but they might get what they need”.
For Miles who was a new working parent at the time of the mentorship, she appreciated the insights of having a mentor who had already walked the path before. And survived. It was also an opportunity for her to shift the way she defined diverse teams. She said, “A diverse team is one made up of people with backgrounds, experience and knowledge. And it means getting comfortable with challenging ideas and with a variety of ideas.”
For Loic Berger, Head of Commercial Strategy at Pernod Ricard, his key learning was: “If you are not consciously inclusive, you are likely to be unconsciously exclusive.”
Mentors and mentees follow modules and mentors share their own experiences with mentees while also learning how to enable real cultural change within their organisations. By facilitating impactful mentoring conversations for male and female leaders, different perspectives emerge, industry leaders continue their own learning and the importance of inclusions and diversity is emphasised.
The program runs for the next six months.