Celebrating women supporting women this International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day, Friday 8 March 2024, we’re casting a spotlight on He Ira Wāhine, the Women’s Mentoring Programme at the Business School, now in its 14th year. We caught up with some of the programme’s past mentees who have returned as mentors years later.

A younger blonde woman with an older dark-haired woman
Catherine Parlane (left) as a mentee in 2011.

Catherine Parlane

GM Sales & Marketing, ABE’s Bagels
Mentee in 2011, Mentor in 2020, 2022

“The biggest takeaway I had as a mentee on the WMP was being able to get feedback and advice from someone in the “real world”, getting help navigating the crossover from university to job hunting and developing the skills I needed. When I came back as a mentor on the programme, what surprised me most was the size of it. It was amazing to see how it had grown and developed since my cohort, which was the very first one. I have really enjoyed being a mentor and connecting with the next generation, learning about new challenges they face, what excites them and hearing about their journey.”

A group of four smiling young women
Tatyana (left) as a mentee in 2012.

Tatyana Dickson

Marketing Director, Mars NZ
Mentee in 2012, Mentor in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023

“I was a mentee in my last year studying a BA/BCom. I will always appreciate the perspective and confidence that the programme gave me and the advice from my mentor as I looked for my first job. My biggest takeaway over that year was an overwhelming feeling of inspiration from all the amazing women I met, including my mentor.

"When I came back as a mentor several years later, I did so to give back, but also push myself outside my comfort zone. I worried about what I could possibly have to offer. What surprised me is that being surrounded by so many other amazing mentors immediately gave me the confidence I needed to show up well for my mentees. I have learned so much from the programme. From the other mentors, many great tips about resilience and work life balance, especially through the pandemic. And from my mentees, I learned how to flex my coaching and mentoring style each year for the wonderful individuals I met.”

Two young women, smiling
Rei-Chel (right) as a mentee in 2013.

Rei-Chel Ong

Senior Manager, KPMG
Mentee 2013, Mentor 2022, 2024

“Having been a mentee on the Women’s Mentoring Programme in the early days of its inception, it’s definitely been interesting to come back as a mentor years later. What has surprised me the most is the realisation of how much I’ve grown into myself over the years, which is one of the biggest things I’ve learned from the mentors I’ve had throughout my career. They’ve shown me what is possible. Each had a different academic background, career path, ambition, lifestyle and personality, and yet each were carving out their own version of success not just at work but across all aspects of their lives. There is space for everyone to thrive while still staying true to who they are, as long they are willing to put in the work. It’s both a humbling and rewarding experience to now be in a position to share this learning with others who are just about to start their careers.”

A young woman seated in the middle of a lecture hall
Jade (centre) as a mentee in 2015.

Jade Crawford

Associate Adviser, Hobson Wealth
Mentee in 2015, Mentor in 2023

“Networking is scary, especially when you’re first getting started. When I was a mentee, the Women’s Mentoring Programme (WMP) events were very impactful in building my confidence and capability in networking, both with my peers and the mentors. It can still be challenging to put myself out there at times, and the WMP events remain approachable and a great opportunity to connect with like-minded women. I learned just as much as a mentor as I did as a mentee. Coincidentally, I ended up working at Deloitte (the same company as my mentor), and my mentee Gemma just did an internship at Deloitte – another generation of WMP mentees going for it!”

Two young women, smiling
Paige (left) as a mentee in 2015.

Paige Wilkinson

Global Marketing Manager (Advanced Nutrition), Fonterra
Mentee in 2015, Mentor in 2022, 2023, 2024

“The biggest relief for me as a mentee was that my mentor was a real-world marketing professional that had walked in my shoes. She was able to hear my questions and concerns and offer tangible advice and feedback on how various decisions or opportunities could benefit my career prospects. She taught me how development is not linear, and how our journeys are iterative, all contributing piece by piece to build our knowledge and skill sets. It helped take the pressure off my next step being the be-all-and-end-all for my entire career and allowed me to focus instead on what immediate next step would be the first of many on a long journey. This pivot of perspective is critical as you move from the sprint of university into the marathon of your career.

"When I came back to the programme as a mentor, it was confronting how much the COVID lockdowns had impacted our young people. I spoke to several of them via Zoom. Some of these young women had been in lockdown, learning remotely, for almost their entire university experience. Because of this isolation, many of them described the perspective shift from university student to careerwomen as being huge. As mentors we saw the programme playing an even more important role at helping these students make that perspective shift and gain that exposure to the post-university world.”