Each month was talk to a pair who have taken part in AHRI’s mentoring program. How did they find it?
Mentor: Rita D’Arcy, FCPHR, FCIPD
Current job title: Founder and consultant, Particularly People
Q: Tell us about your career history so far.
My HR career has spanned 25 years. I began in retail management, which was a wonderful springboard into HR as I learnt early on about the value of the employee/manager relationship. I have held various senior HR management roles with a number of local and global organisations, consciously choosing an HR generalist career pathway to gain a breadth of experience.
Just over eight years ago, I opened my own consulting firm, specialising in performance, culture, leadership, engagement and transformation. In addition, I coach senior leaders and emerging HR professionals and teach business and HR units to undergraduates.
Q: Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I have been asked by upcoming HR professionals to mentor them and it’s a great honour. I have been lucky to have access to great people in shaping my career and influencing my thinking. I quickly realised how much I enjoyed my mentoring role and how important it was to give back to my profession as a sign of gratitude. My prize from this experience is simple: growth for both of us in whatever way that presents itself and plenty of laughs along the way.
Q: What have you learnt from Kevin?
Kevin and I are different individuals but we share a common goal… wanting to see people around us strive to achieve their personal best. Kevin has taught me about the different approaches we need to take to achieve that. Kevin has also taught me about the value of meditation, and learning to switch off from the constant noise that pervades our busy lives… I am still trying Kevin!
Q: How do you think mentees can get the most from this experience?
Let the relationship unfold organically and don’t try to over orchestrate it. However, do try to identify early on how your mentor can support you (eg is it technical guidance you need, or strategies for managing yourself in certain situations?). But, if the chemistry isn’t right, don’t persevere. The foundation should be professional respect and trust, which may at times involve some ‘tough love’.
Mentee: Kevin Carty
Current job title: Manager, business partners and project support, NSW State Government
Q: What did you get out of the mentoring experience?
Less than a year before meeting Rita, I began working in the public sector and we connected when there was a lot of change going on in my life, so it has been great to get advice and guidance. The most important lesson I learnt is to reflect back on my work and how I approach things. Rita is excellent at saying ‘I’m going to pull you up and challenge you on that’. She encourages me to think differently and will plant seeds of thought for me to adopt a more considered approach.
Q: Tell us about your first session with Rita.
We clicked from the start. Rita brought a diary for me to use as a journal throughout this process and luckily I also bought her a small gift. On the first day we met, I was facing a significant challenge at work, and Rita provided a great sounding board and gave me some perspective.
Q: What is your dream HR job?
This one comes close. The public sector is going through significant change and I feel well-suited to the work and excited about being in this space – it’s a great time to be here. There are opportunities to influence the strategic direction of the organisation. I t’s also an opportunity to give something back to the broader community. It’s a bonus that I’ve come into the organisation at the right time and feel I can add value.
Q: What advice would you give to a mentee completing the program?
Embrace it and be open-minded. The mentorship might go off in many directions, because life and roles change and shift. The mentor has obvious and not-so-obvious areas of expertise that they are willing to impart. The experience has inspired me recently to become a mentor myself and pass on what my mentor has taught me.
Applications for intake 1 of the 2016 program close on 29 February. Apply now by clicking here.
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the February 2016 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.