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Mentoring creates an unbreakable HR bond

A supportive professional relationship and a shared Gallic interest have brought lasting friendship for two HR practitioners.

Audrey was looking for someone to give her open and honest feedback and Sheree was eager to give back to the HR community. This combination brought the two women together in a mentor partnership that has seen both women develop and hone their skills.

Mentor: Sheree Smith MAHRI – Senior HR advisor,  Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd

I joined the AHRI Mentoring Program last year as I wanted to give back to the HR profession by providing coaching and support to others while developing my mentoring skills to take on a formal HR leadership role.

During my HR career, I have had the opportunity to partner with and educate managers on generalist HR initiatives such as organisational development, change management, and training design and delivery.

I haven’t had a formal mentor outside of work, but I have had some really great business leaders and HR managers who were able to provide insights about HR strategy, influencing, commercial thinking and developing good questioning skills. One of the reasons I moved from Perth to Warrnambool in Victoria was to work with and learn from an inspiring leader, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter’s general manager HR, Kirsty Appleton. Kirsty offered me a global view of HR in manufacturing because she has international experience working with multinational companies.

For Audrey and I, the mentoring program began in April 2017. I couldn’t wait to arrange an informal meeting over drinks and dinner. We spent the evening getting to know each other and discussed what we both wanted from the program. Our informal meetings built a strong foundation for mentoring and friendship. We also benefited from attending AHRI mentoring events together and networking with other HR professionals.

Audrey has strong industrial relations knowledge and international HR experience. She was keen to develop her influencing skills and business partnering capability, which I felt I could really help her with. We did a DISC assessment, which measures an individual’s style using four basic traits – dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness – to understand herself and others better, and talked about her career and technical things, such as how to go about an investigation.

It’s been a delight to have Audrey as my first mentee. Her level of enthusiasm is infectious. I realised you can learn as much from your mentee as they learn from you. Audrey is French and I am learning about her culture and cuisine.

This mentoring journey has helped me build confidence in providing instruction and coaching, and also consolidate my own learning. In the last year, I have taken on a manager role and the AHRI mentoring program helped me prepare for that. I have enrolled again this year.

Mentee: Audrey Buffet MAHRI – ER Partner, Cotton On Group

I started my HR career in London in 2007 and since then I have worked in various HR roles, such as payroll, learning and development, and recruitment. Last year I decided to join the mentoring program because I was seeking a mentor who could help me increase my HR skills and provide me with different solutions or views on best practice. I was also looking for someone who could provide me with open and honest feedback.

Each time we met, the conversation flowed naturally from one subject to another. Sheree helped me believe in my capabilities and I became more confident. She helped me understand who I am as a communicator and how I could influence stakeholders.

My main goal was to develop my skills for the next step of my career and get a better understanding of what competencies I should develop to become a business partner.

Our first work together involved a bullying complaint I was managing. It was my first time dealing with an investigation and the company I was working for did not have any processes, templates or script in place.

I began to put together a process, which I shared and reviewed with Sheree. Her feedback was very useful and the case had a fair outcome. It was great to have someone that I could count on any time outside of work. We bonded, not just on HR aspects, but on a personal level too. We love to meet at every opportunity we get, and when we do, we spend hours talking passionately about HR, work and ourselves.

We are both extroverts and committed professionals, and we both love a good laugh and exploring new places to eat.

Even though the program is over, we still keep in touch and she will always be my mentor. I would advise anyone who wants to progress in their career to get a mentor. You have nothing to lose and you will not only  gain a different perspective about your work, you will gain one about your workplace, which is essential for career growth.

Develop your career and networks by becoming a mentor or mentee. AHRI’s six-month mentoring program matches experienced HR professionals with upcoming HR professionals or those moving into an HR role. Exclusive to AHRI members. Applications close Monday 17 September.

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Robert Compton FAHRI
Robert Compton FAHRI

A great mentor is hard to beat. Someone who has been there and done that and whom you can connect to. I believe strongly that a mentor is one whom you self select rather than have appointed to you. I have experienced both and the person who really changed my career in the right direction was not my appointed mentor but a person I met at a work function over a few fine reds. The next ten years were the best for me. All as a result of a chance meeting.

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