We sat down with Diana Hall, Head of Operations at Castrol ANZ to talk about her experience of mentoring as part of the National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) Mentoring Circles Program. With over twenty years of incredible experience, she mentors seven women in operations across four different countries – proximity clearly is no hindrance for these amazing women.
The program has some of Australia’s largest organisations in their membership; BP, Nissan, NewsCorp, Rio Tinto, BHP, Orica, McCain, Australia Post and Coca-Cola Amatil and guides participants through a series of sessions that have the potential to have a profound impact on their future careers.
We were keen to hear from Diana, her perspective of the program powered by Mentorloop.
What is so great about the Mentoring Circle is that it is not a two-dimensional relationship that has been formed. They are a group of fabulous women, each with their own distinct strengths and personalities that can support, stretch and encourage one another, as everyone is anchored in a shared experience.
Behind every mentor is often another, or in a lot of cases, many more – often a whole personal advisory board! We asked Diana to share a little about her own experience of being mentored and the wonderful people who have guided her, to this point in her career.
There are always some standouts … those who show belief in you to enable you to find the belief in yourself! Sometimes they are there at those ‘big moments’ in your career – the defining pivots that created a step change for you. Sometimes they created the opportunity. Sometimes they were the catalyst for you creating your own change. Equally as important, but often less obvious, are those who are in the background – counselling, guiding, supporting, coaching, mentoring you – often unofficially. Sometimes you don’t even realise it. But then you take a moment to reflect and can appreciate all that they have done for you and more importantly, all that they have helped you find in yourself.
I have experienced both formal and informal mentoring relationships and have found them incredibly helpful, particularly those from outside my immediate area due to the different perspectives that you get – and the two-way learning that both mentor and mentee can benefit from.
The NAWO program brings together executive mentors for the opportunity to partner with a group of 5-8 high potential, mid-career women in operations. We asked what specifically drew Diana to participate in the NAWO mentoring circles program.
I wanted to connect with women from across a variety of industries. I wanted to hear their stories and share their learnings. I wanted to help them help themselves and at the same time, I wanted to challenge myself to enable me to continue to grow.
I have been to a number of NAWO sessions and have always enjoyed the inter-industry discussions. As an active mentor within my own organisation, I know how invaluable it can be – both to the mentee and to the mentor. Therefore the opportunity to connect with women from across a variety of industries, with different experiences, perspectives and goals was incredibly appealing.
NAWO is a not-for-profit, driven by the vision of a world where women and men can be equally represented and valued at every level. The program’s vision is to inspire women to take the lead, to fill the pipeline of talented women in operations and strengthen the female leadership line, by starting at the start. To learn from inspiring leaders, grow their knowledge and build their network.
In the lead up to International Women’s Day, we spoke to Diana about her thoughts on why it is important to mentor women.
Having worked in a male-dominated industry for most of my career, I feel lucky that I was supported and gender was a non-issue for me – and to be honest I put that largely down to the strength & integrity of the leadership team in my division. Other women weren’t so fortunate.
I’ve seen women torn between two choices – career or family … and they are not mutually exclusive. I have mixed feelings when female leaders are introduced as ‘leader & mother’ because whilst parental status should be irrelevant I also recognise the acknowledgement that this is providing to other women that it is ok to be a working parent. I have counselled women on this exact topic, where they were literally being torn by their own feelings of guilt, feeling they were ‘bad mothers’ because they travelled/worked late/left early.
Through a combination of my mentoring and my leadership style, I encourage everyone to own both their careers and their personal commitments/parental responsibilities – irrespective of their gender.
From my perspective, I see a group of wonderful women actively exploring new ideas and approaches. But most of all, I see the future leaders starting to give themselves permission to stand-up without apology – which is fantastic. Others believe in them, it’s up to them to believe in themselves…
Just like all variety of relationships, every mentoring relationship is unique. We asked Diana what she would like to see in her mentees before the conclusion of this NAWO program’s intake.
By the end of session 6, I want my mentees to feel empowered to deliver their set goals, to have the confidence to speak up and take control when it comes to key choices in their career; I want them to believe in themselves, to lean-in and sometimes take risks, and in doing so have the ability to become leaders of the future.
On our very first session when discussing objectives, one of my mentees shared that she was hoping to fill a ‘toolbox’ with tips & techniques that she can bring with her. It was such a great analogy – one that resonated with all of us – so as we wrap up each session we think of the tips that we are able to put into our technique toolbox.
Mentoring most definitely moves in a two-way motion where mentors often learn and grow just as much as their mentees in ways such as this. Diana continued to share what she has learned about herself, mentoring and her mentoring style.
I have enjoyed the richness of conversations. I have reinforced to myself that my time management can be improved, as I prepare at the last minute which is not always ideal for my co-chair. But I have enjoyed the mentee discussions. Generally, everyone has the answers – they just need the confidence to ‘lean in’ in the words of Sheryl Sandberg.
This is my first experience with external mentoring. I have deep experience in mentoring within my organisation – both as mentor and mentee. What I have enjoyed is meeting a variety of exceptional women with diverse backgrounds and experience and learning from each other as we explore the different topics we have chosen.
I have noticed a change in my listening skills and facilitating style – which is positively translating back into my day-job! With respect to my mentees, through the discussions I’m hearing examples of how they have been practising with the 70:20:10 approach and I have seen a strengthening in group dynamics over the last few months.
We also met with one of Diana’s mentees, Stephanie, who only echoed the benefits that Diana describes – be sure to join us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to stay in the loop and hear her story first!
International Women’s Day
With International Women’s Day fast approaching, now is the perfect time to think about how you could deploy a bespoke mentor program to better support your people. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in hearing more about our special IWD package.
NAWO’s flagship mentoring program, offered exclusively to their members, provides executive mentors with the opportunity to partner with a group of 5-8 high potential, mid-career women and guide them through a series of sessions that have the potential to have a profound impact on their future careers.
Mentorloop is proud to be contributing toward filling the pipeline of talented women in operations and strengthening female leadership.