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Why I’m a mentor: I want to share my skills

Susan King  is the sole proprietor of Susan King Consulting. Kate Goodman is Executive Manager for TheBumpWA. Paired together in IML’s WA’s mentoring program, they reveal the fruits of their six-month relationship.

Tell us a little bit about your job and career background

Susan King: My career has been rather serendipitous and varied in nature, involving an unusual mix of work in governance, strategic policy and planning, strategic resource management and institutional performance and review. For the past few years I have been mixing consulting work with various board or committee roles and related pro-bono activities. My consultancy specialises in senior executive and board-level consulting services in areas such as policy analysis, governance, strategic planning and performance and quality review.

Kate Goodman: I have been in my role at TheBumpWA for a full year now. It is a job I feel I have been in training for all of my professional career. I manage a number of small dedicated teams and report directly to the board. We are a not-for-profit organisation educating, supporting and empowering women and their families predominantly in the midwifery-led care model.

I have a significant amount of autonomy and work with a diverse range of WA agencies in the complex environment of healthcare [high cost, highly emotive, driven by compassion for humanity].

Why are you a mentor-mentee?

SK: My main motivation to serve as a mentor has been to share my varied experiences and skills with mentees who are willing and keen to embrace such a program. Both the mentor and mentee to some extent put themselves on the line and need to be committed to their respective roles.

KG: I had spent more than two years in a challenging role as corporate services manager. I found that my work environment was affecting my health. I went into a period of personal and professional re-evaluation. The way forward for me was the professional lifeline of IML WA. I became an Associate Fellow in May 2013, started the mentor program in July and by November had secured the career change that I desired and needed.

How did you get together?

SK: Kate is my second experience of the IML WA mentoring program and she was very prompt in organising our first meeting, held at a popular cafe. [We continued nourishing our sessions with good coffee, plus breakfast or lunch.] Towards the end of the session the parties should decide whether they are happy to proceed. If I remember rightly Kate basically said that she had just wanted to make sure that I didn’t have “two heads”! I think she also felt that working with a mentor with a fair bit of “life experience” might be beneficial.

KG: After we had been matched and had reviewed each other’s profiles we met for coffee to get to know each other and see if we were the right match for a good working relationship. We spent most of our agreed hour reviewing the ground rules of the mentoring relationship, in particular the checklist for assumption testing about confidentiality. I recall Susan being uncertain how she could assist me. I was totally clear that we were matched and would work well together.

How did the mentoring sessions go?

SK: Kate was extremely well organised and tenacious and shared with me things such as her outcome achievement statement, CV and results of Myers Briggs-type instruments. I tended to respond with feedback, which included exploring consistencies with her initial views on her next career step. We also talked about whatever work-related challenges or decisions she was currently facing [such as work ambiguities, job opportunities, applications or interviews]. My role was of a constructive-supportive listener and sounding board. I also encouraged Kate to take a bit of time out for herself and keep things in balance.

KG: This is my first experience as a mentee. I found the process to be a true source of professional reflection. I worked with Susan to restate my strengths and talents, define the next stage of my career and identify skills gaps and the strategies to fill the gaps.

Describe your relationship now

SK: Kate and I still keep in touch via email or attendance at IML WA functions. We have mentioned getting together again over coffee, but as yet we haven’t managed to fit it in. I think Kate knows that I am available if she wanted particular information that I might be able to provide or if she simply wanted to use me as a sounding board.

KG: Susan created the space for me to complete the professional reflection work that I needed. Susan’s greatest value was being a committed listener. I have a great deal of respect for Susan, she keeps me grounded and focused, mainly knowing she is there for consultation if I need her.

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