AHRI’s mentoring program has brought out the strengths and opened up horizons for these two HR professionals.
The mentee: Angela Sigismondi MAHRI
Former learning and development advisor, BP Kwinana Refinery; and aspiring career coach.
I felt like a bird in a cage at work before the mentoring program started. I had a diverse set of skills and a great deal of experience, but they weren’t aligned with my passion. Equally, there wasn’t any opportunities for growth in my role at the time.
So when Janelle and I first met for coffee, I think she realised I needed some support around the challenges that I was experiencing, especially with work and work-life balance.
For the last 14 years I had been working in the learning and development space within mining, construction, and oil and gas. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go next in my career, or how to go about it, so the mentoring program allowed me to flesh that out with Janelle.
One thing I was pretty certain about, was that I wanted to do coaching and help people. Janelle helped me confirm my viewpoints and consider new ways of approaching situations. She had some ideas that I hadn’t even considered, so she widened my perspective and helped me understand that I had more options available to me than I realised.
Subsequently, I completed a level one coaching course with the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL) which is the next step to my ultimate goal: to coach people. Mentoring has helped me to become resilient and I’ve discovered inner courage and strength that I didn’t realise I had.
Without Janelle’s help I think it would have taken a lot longer for me to get to where I am today. Janelle has a high level of emotional intelligence and great self-awareness that meant she would actively listen without immediately jumping to judgment. As a result, I feel Janelle empowered me to fast-track my decisions.
My advice for other mentees is: you must be open to change. The role of your mentor is to facilitate your development and not complete the work for you. It’s also important to remember that the relationship is not about immediate achievement; it’s about developing your future potential.
Janelle and I have maintained contact – we recently caught up for coffee and a chat. The best mentoring relationships don’t necessarily dissolve. For us, there may not be regular contact, but she may reach out if she wants to bounce an idea off me or ask a question or just touch base and I will, no doubt, do the same.
Now I’m considering that it’s time for me to give back and become a mentor myself, given that I’ve had various wonderful mentors over my career.
The mentor: Janelle Roussos CAHRI
Employee HR manager, Global Digital Industrial Co
My career in HR kicked off around 20 years ago with generalist roles, mainly within construction and energy businesses. Over the past decade I’ve been working as an HR manager.
Throughout that time, I’ve had two particularly strong mentors. They were there to hold up the mirror so I could reflect on whatever was occurring in my career or personal life at the time. It didn’t matter what the topic was, they were my advocates. So the AHRI mentoring program was my opportunity to offer a little back into the profession.
My relationship with Angela started after AHRI connected us and we established early on that what she was looking for was a career growth and coaching conversation. Angela is a very intelligent, capable individual. She knew the answers, so my role was to help her navigate towards what I feel was the natural conclusion.
A lot of our conversations were around who she was going to take with her on her journey. Who were the people who were going to complement her, and who were the passengers that she needed to move on from?
My role was to give her the foundation to understand the risks and build the courage to take the next opportunity.
My intention is that this relationship will continue beyond the life of the AHRI program because we now know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and we’ll definitely continue to work together on that.
Mentoring is not a one-way street and it’s not a seniority-based approach either. What I learnt from all of this was not to give advice or to impart what I would do in her situation. I needed to ask thoughtful and powerful questions that would allow Angela to understand her capability and potential. And then to make the decisions around what was right for her.
The other thing I learnt was not to own another person’s problem. That can sometimes be tough because you do get emotionally involved and your natural instinct is to help.
My advice for other HR practitioners considering becoming mentors is to get on board. Mentoring and coaching is one of the fastest growing practices in our industry. HR is moving away from a control and command culture so start practising how to ask powerful questions because – if you’re going to be a good, well respected and credible practitioner – this is the future of HR.
Build your career and professional networks with AHRI’s Mentoring Program in 2018. Experienced HR professionals are matched with upcoming HR practitioners and HR graduates. Applications close Monday 19 February. Exclusive to AHRI members.