Welcome to the Industry Leaders Fund Mentoring Program
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience within the South Australian business community. We believe engaging our scholars with this community offers a unique opportunity for you to be inspired and learn from these experiences. It also provides the chance for our ILF board members, ambassadors and external business professionals to give back to the community, and to contribute to the development of our scholars.
The inaugural ILF season 1 mentoring program was launched in 2016 by Eddie Lane, the then Chairman of the ILF Scholars Committee. This 12 month program was designed to assist scholars seeking opportunities for career and personal development by creating mentoring relationships with leaders in the South Australian business community. The feedback from that program, and every subsequent program, has been highly positive. We intend to hold these programs about every 24 months.
The second season of the Program was held in 2018-19
The Industry Leaders Fund Mentoring Program season three launched in 10 November 2021 and formally wound up on 2 November 2022. Formal winding up means that active encouragement and support is discontinued, but does not necessarily mean that mentoring relationships must cease, and in fact many from the inaugural program remain active and productive today.
These programs include a launch, finale and generally a mid-term function to allow participants to share their experiences and maximise the value they all gain. The functions are generously hosted by Deloitte at no cost to participants or the ILFSN.
Why do it?
Mentoring provides a close one on one relationship that provides many benefits. Anthony Kittel is a big advocate.
Geoff Vogt learned many valuable lessons from mentors early in his career. He was quite shy about business meetings and over a period of three years with two mentors gained a series of insights and methods to overcome his fears. Later in life he mentored a number of younger businesspeople and found the discussion actually led him to answer many current day challenges. You can read more about his experience here.
Feedback on the ILF Mentoring Program has been very positive overall, as evidenced by season 2 testimonials given by Jarrod Starkey and Mark Canny.
How to do it
“Mentoring is a term that is often used but less often understood.”
A short summary of a Harvard Business Review article was published in the May 2017 issue of Company Director, a monthly magazine of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has been reproduced with their permission. It is still relevant today.
When the opportunity came up to partake in the ILF mentor/mentee program I didn’t hesitate to put up hand up as a mentee. For me, I saw a unique opportunity to be paired with a mentor who could provide me guidance on important business issues, while having no ties with the organisation, therefore having the luxury to take the emotion out of my working environment.
For me personally, 2016 had been a particularly difficult year, with Arrium (our largest customer) entering into Voluntary Administration in early April, thus leaving the business that I work for, Whyalla Hose & Fitting Services WH&F out of pocket in excess of $500k, and on the brink of closure.
To further compound the loss of income, highly trained staff resigned and took up more secure roles, some with Arrium, while others chose to leave Whyalla and take up positions in Adelaide.
As luck had it, I was paired with Mark Canny as my mentor, and to initiate the first mentor/mentee meeting, Mark took it upon himself to visit Whyalla and spend an afternoon at WH&F, and then go out to tea. This I believe was the start of a great mentor/mentee relationship, and I felt at ease discussing the challenging times WH&F had faced, and the obvious delicate journey we still had in front of us.
After our initial kick off meeting we set some evenings aside to discuss what my wants and needs were, and what was required to achieve these goals.
From there Mark set me a couple of tasks, one of which was to locate a company within the region that I could possibly take up employment with.
It was during this task that I realised that I needed to remain at WH&F, thus contributing to the stability of the business during the Voluntary Administration (VA) process.
From what I have read, the mentor/mentee relationship is predominately a framework that encapsulated a structured format, however what worked best for me was an adhoc arrangement.
I would find myself calling or emailing Mark an issue, and for there we would work through it, some very quickly, others over several phone hook ups and emails, and after I solved each issue with Mark’s guidance, it was days, weeks or even months before I made contact again.
The number one thing I took out of the mentor/mentee experience was that during the VA I had slightly lost my way, and with Mark’s help I was able to get back on track, and for that I will be forever grateful.
I volunteered to be involved with the program as there seemed to be a real demand from potential mentees. I didn’t have a clear idea about how it would work but there was a commitment from the ILF to provide resources so I was willing to be involved.
The launch meeting was very useful and the Resource Book take-away gave an excellent framework for the whole process. I was paired with Jarrod Starkey from Whyalla Hose and Fitting Services. The pairing was just right. Much of my work experience had been with businesses that were having trouble and the issues facing the Whyalla business community at the time (following the Arrium administration) are well documented.
For me there were two key learnings from the mentoring exercise.
Firstly, Jarrod and I agreed that a face-to-face meeting would be an important first step. We met in Whyalla, I saw Jarrod’s workplace and then we went out for a bite to eat and a relaxed chat. I am convinced that this was vital in establishing what turned out to be a successful mentoring relationship.
The second learning surprised me a little. My expectation was that the process would be quite structured – regular, planned phone calls; agreed actions; occasional meetings. The arrangement began this way but quickly moved to ad hoc discussions based on specific issues. Jarrod and I would go weeks without contact and then I would hear from Jarrod asking for my thoughts on a particular, tricky topic. Sometimes the issue could be resolved in one call; sometimes we needed more data and multiple discussions. I quickly realised that this approach added the greatest value to Jarrod (and that, after all, was the whole point of the exercise). This was an important learning for me.
All in all, the program was a valuable exercise with learnings on both sides.