Each month we talk to two people who have participated in the AHRI mentoring program. This month has an international twist.
Mentor: Lyn Stringer CAHRI
Current job title: HR manager, Courts Administration Authority, South Australia
Q. Tell us about your career history.
As a member of the Courts Administration Authority’s management team, I am responsible for managing people and culture in the business. Throughout my career I have worked in areas as diverse as health and justice to environment and IT.
Q. How did your mentoring relationship with Simeamativa come about?
The coordinator of a Pacific Leadership Program contacted AHRI to seek a mentor for one of its participants. AHRI approached me, along with others, to register interest and submit a résumé. Simeamativa chose from the résumés submitted.
Q. What have you learnt from Simeamativa?
I found that the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program has many challenges associated with combining a local and expatriate workforce. The considerations in catering for this multinational workforce were something outside my own experience. I was also surprised by how similar our organisational HR issues were, given how different the organisations are.
Q. What do you hope Simeamativa has taken away from the mentoring experience?
The face-to-face visit to my organisation, I believe, was the most valuable part of the experience, as I was able to immerse Simeamativa in the life of HR in my organisation for three days. I don’t think any amount of emails, Skype or phone calls could have provided this level of information sharing. Simeamativa was also able to attend the 2013 AHRI National Convention, from which I hope she gained a great deal of new ideas and plenty of fresh inspiration.
Q. Why do you think that it is important for mentor-mentee relationships to extend beyond national borders?
The HR profession is global and the trends are similar throughout the developed world, including the global financial crisis, skill shortages, growing awareness of environmental protection and the increase in multinationals. Australia is a lead nation to many smaller countries in Asia and the Pacific, and I think it is incumbent upon us to share our wealth of knowledge and skills with our neighbours.
Mentee: Simeamativa Vaai CAHRI
Current job title: HR advisor, secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, Samoa
Q. What did you get out of the mentoring experience?
I found it very useful to have a senior and experienced HR professional, like Lyn, to share and bounce ideas off. Lyn put me in touch with a lot of HR professionals who all had different perspectives and ideas on issues. Plus, she introduced me to the AHRI National Convention, which I found very useful. I also found myself a friend.
If I got stuck on an issue or needed a second opinion on something I was working on, I would send a quick email to Lyn and see what her thoughts were and how she would have dealt with that particular situation if she were in my shoes. We acknowledged that we were working in different environments, so we’d focus our discussions around that.
Q. What’s the most important lesson you’ve taken away from the mentoring?
I have learned the value of sharing information and networking among professionals. I also learned that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and we need to appreciate the work we do and those in our teams do.
Q. How did you conduct the mentoring relationship across two countries?
It was a challenge for us, being busy with our own jobs and in different countries. We kept in touch by email and tried our best to conduct a Skype or phone call once a month. We did meet face-to-face twice, for the AHRI National Convention and at Lyn’s workplace in South Australia, where she arranged for me to spend time with the HR teams at the Courts Administration Authority and the Environment Protection Authority SA, which was invaluable.
Applications are now open for the 2015 AHRI mentoring program. The program begins in March and runs for 12 months.
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the November 2014 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Mentor. Mentee’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here.