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The surprising things I learned from my mentor

When Kimberley Britt, now a stakeholder relationship manager with CPA Australia in Canberra, joined IML’s Mentor Program, she was surprised at the professionalism of her mentee, Lauren Stokoe, a graduate recruit in Deloitte’s risk management team. Lauren was equally surprised by Kimberley’s readiness to guide her along her career path – and willingness to share tips and advice.

Britt and Stokoe have been meeting fortnightly since October to plot the achievement of goals. Here’s what they’ve got out of it:

Why did you join IML’s mentor program?

KB: I was interested from two angles. I was interested in a mentor for myself but also having had opportunities in my career from what I see as a council of mentors – different people with different skills that contribute to mentoring for your career – I wanted to be able to give that opportunity to somebody else. I know how much it’s helped me.

LS: I was very nervous about starting my job at Deloitte and I thought it would be a nice opportunity because you could get a mentor matched to your personality and career aims.

I liked the idea of some guidance from someone who has been there and done that and is in a place where I’d like to be in 10 years down the track.

What did you get out of it?

KB: It was very fulfilling. Watching Lauren go from someone who has not had much experience in a professional environment to growing in confidence and enthusiasm. Being able to contribute in a small part to her career journey is valuable. Initial meetings were about goal setting and what Lauren was hoping to achieve and then as she got closer to starting her job, it was more focused on things like networking.

LS: Kimberley gave me good advice on starting my career and helped ease my nerves about networking and communicating with other members of staff. I know that she’s incredibly busy, especially being on the Young Manager Advisory Board of IML, but she always has time to answer my emails and answer any questions I might have.

How will the program help you to meet your career goals?

KB: It broadens my understanding and experience of different people in the workforce and how they are approaching things.

LS: I think it helps to have someone to talk to about how to handle certain situations, from conflicts or interviews or events. Having that advice will definitely help. And Kimberley is a role model – she’s where I want to be, especially as she’s a female in authority making her way through her career.

What have you learnt from your mentor/mentee?

KB: It’s reminded me a lot about how daunting it can feel to start in a new workplace. I often have graduates or new starters in my area who are quite young. It’s reminded me that sometimes you take things for granted in the workplace, that people are comfortable walking into a manager’s office or going to a networking function and having conversations. Those are things you learn.

LS: How to approach certain situations, particularly ones regarding conflict. Also, how to talk with people within the organisation, because it’s more formal than what I was used to. Also little things that I was nervous about, like what to wear and how I can go about meeting people.

What do you think your mentor/mentee has learnt form you?

KB: I’ve tried not to provide Lauren with solutions but prompted questions and thinking around the questions that she has so she comes up with a solution herself. I think it’s shown her that she has the answer already but it’s given her the confidence to back herself.

LS: I don’t know that Kimberley learnt much from me! Maybe more of an understanding of graduates and realising the mind frames that they might enter the workforce with.

What advice would you have for anyone interested in participating in the program?

KB: As a mentor, it’s an enriching experience to be able to share your knowledge and reflect on your own experiences and even think about how you would handle challenging situations. It’s a great opportunity to help someone on their career journey.

LS: It’s not only another networking opportunity, but it gives you a person who you can talk to about things going on in your workplace and you know it won’t get repeated. The mentor doesn’t have any vested interest so everything is objective.

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