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IWD 2024: Why mentoring others is the most rewarding aspect of my leadership role
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

There’s no better way to inspire female inclusion than by sharing your experience and expertise with others

Two decades working in high-pressure enterprise software sales has taught me that success is almost invariably the result of a positive corporate culture – but what does that actually look like?

For my money, it’s a setting in which integrity, accountability, effort and drive, clear communication and supportive teamwork are evident from the C-suite down.

That’s a big part of the reason why I’m passionate about helping female colleagues develop those attributes and hone those skills. It means they’ll become valued members of the teams in which they work and worthy candidates for career progression.

I think of it as inclusion in action – something those of us with the opportunity and capacity should be doing for the generation of emerging women leaders who will one day sit in our seats.

Paying it forward

As a senior leader at BlackLine, the market-leading supplier of finance automation solutions to the enterprise and mid-market – I took on the role of regional vice president in early 2023 – opportunities for me to engage in mentoring relationships are plentiful.

I strive to take full advantage of them because it’s a way of paying it forward.

You see, I owe a great deal to an extraordinary mentor, one who was pivotal in the launch of my own professional career back in 1989.

After finding myself the sole student attendee at a business networking event, I was subsequently offered a job by the only other woman in the room. A successful marketing agency owner, she took a raw 19-year-old under her wing, mentoring me and providing me with abundant opportunities to learn and grow. Without her support, finding my feet in the world of professional work would have been a far trickier proposition.

Elevating women at work

It’s critical female leaders like myself do the same for others, particularly those of us working in industries where women remain a significant minority.

It is one such. Just 29% of all jobs in the Australian IT sector are held by women, according to the Australian Computer Society’s 2021 Digital Pulse report.

We’re even more sparsely represented at senior and executive levels. By the Australian Computer Society’s reckoning, women hold just 18% of CEO roles and 22% of board seats.

I believe coaching and mentoring is one of the keys to redressing that gender imbalance; to empowering women and giving them the confidence they need to fulfil their potential in this dynamic and well remunerated industry.

Providing them with access to an environment where they can safely express what’s going on for them and what their challenges are is vital. So is the opportunity to see role models – other women who’ve overcome the obstacles and worked their way up the ranks.  

Making mentorship more effective

Investing in professional development over the past year has improved my ability to create a nurturing, supportive environment. In 2023, I resolved to enhance my mentoring practice by completing an International Coaching Federation-accredited course in my own time.

Based on well-founded cognitive therapies, it’s provided me with a framework for holding structured coaching conversations that are designed to help individuals identify and solve issues and overcome the barriers holding them back from achieving their goals.
 
Armed with that knowledge, they can systematically set about achieving optimum outcomes for themselves.

This formal grounding has enabled me to do a better job of supporting more women. I currently have six female mentees ‘on the books’ in the Blackline office, all at different stages of their career journeys. 

Seeing them enhance their professional effectiveness and achieve greater clarity around their career aspirations and goals has been immensely rewarding and fulfilling, perhaps more so than any other aspect of my role.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, I’m energised by the prospect of continuing to give back to other women in a practical, tangible way. By encouraging and uplifting each other, we can be the change we want to see.