This week, we sat down with Lauren and Pippa, of Hydro Tasmania to chat about their mentoring journey so far. Two incredible women navigating their careers and peer-to-peer mentoring connection, together. Allow us to introduce them:
Lauren: Working as one of Hydro Tasmania’s Environmental Scientists, I provide advice on planning and policy matters, as well as providing general environmental advice across all of our regions including the Bass Strait Islands!
Pippa: My role is Strategic Analyst, Future Markets. This means I look at the range of possible changes in our electricity system over the next 10-30 years, and try to ensure that our business strategy is robust and/or flexible to a wide range of outcomes.
What drew you to the Hydro Group Mentoring program?
Lauren: I am working towards progressing my career and felt that a mentor would help guide my journey as well as offer advice. Pippa and I have a pretty open approach. We generally meet over lunch (ideally in the sunshine when the Tasmanian weather permits!).
We are trying to practice active listening where one person comes to the conversation with a dilemma and the other has to listen without trying to solve the issue.
Our conversations have included how to have a difficult conversation as well as determining when to make a change in our career pathway.
Pippa: I hoped to gain a different perspective on how my career might progress. My career has taken a really interesting turn from my origins in engineering, and coming to the end of my master’s, my development focus is ready for a refresh. I want to make sure I keep driving my learning and development, rather than just hoping it will happen naturally.
It’s always useful to have different conversations and insights from around the business and the industry. Going into the program I hoped that it might help me connect with people who I haven’t worked with before.
Often, our first mentors aren’t labelled as ‘mentors’. They could be your current manager, a friend, or a teacher. We asked Lauren and Pippa to reflect on who their first mentors may have been.
Lauren: I have had some mentors in my journey so far, however, I have found it is often those that we don’t see as mentors to be the ones that really help you along the way. One day you look back and realise what a mentor they were to you.
Pippa: I’ve had a range of great mentors, although most of them have been quite informal. I liked the idea of building some more formal mentoring relationships, to provide perspectives from people who don’t have any vested interest in my career pathway.
What do you think makes your mentoring connection different from others’?
Lauren: Pippa and I are exploring a peer-mentoring arrangement opposed to a more traditional connection. While working in different fields and roles, it feels that we face similar challenges both being women at a similar age.
Pippa: Our mentoring relationship is peer-to-peer. Apart from that though, we’re taking a fairly traditional approach – we take turns each session to be mentor/mentee, and the mentee comes prepared with a dilemma they want to work through. Because we are at similar places in our career, I find this discipline really useful in ensuring we both get the most out of each session, rather than just chatting.
How did it all begin?
Hydro Tasmania run a ‘blended matching’ program with Mentorloop, where participants can be matched in a variety of ways. Whether it be via the Mentorloop algorithm, manually matched by the Program Coordinator at Hydro Tasmania or self-selected, as Pippa did when she reached out to Lauren.
Lauren: Pippa was the one to reach out to me to see whether a peer-mentoring arrangement would interest me.
Pippa: I was looking to see who had signed up to the platform, and I thought Lauren was someone I could really learn from, despite our relatively similar career stage.
What do you think the ‘secret’ to a successful mentoring relationship is?
Lauren: We are trying to ensure we get something out of our catch ups opposed to just having a social catch up. This can be hard depending on the direction of the conversation but we have found if we have a topic or dilemma to discuss prior to meeting it helps us get back on track.
Pippa: Agreed – it’s always a balance because you need to get along well with your mentor, but if you do, then staying on track requires discipline.
How would the industry would look, without a mentoring program such as this?
Pippa: This industry is changing rapidly and there’s (rightly) a huge focus on technical aspects. However to deliver the energy transformation, we will need lots of clever, engaged people working collaboratively on the issues. This is a large, multifaceted challenge, and facilitating opportunities for people already in the industry to develop and learn from one another is an important component of that.
Lastly, any advice for others?
Lauren: Don’t be afraid of forming new connections – especially with your peers!
Pippa: Reaching out can be scary, but it’s worth a try – worst case scenario, you have a coffee with someone interesting!
If you’re interested in learning more about how Mentorloop has helped over 20,000 users find meaningful relationships which have helped shape their careers, speak to a mentoring specialist today.