Reflecting back on the Leadership Day, I realise now that the focus on mentoring and collaboration really sparked my own ideas. There have been so many instances where I have sat at my desk, trying to generate new events or new strategies but it was at the Leadership day that it seemed so easy to come up with new ways to promote our own ideas and make a change. Why? Because I was surrounded by girls who had the same mindset and we had fantastic mentors who paved our way.
The girls at the Leadership Day were all introduced to many wonderful mentors, one of which included Hilary Cootes. I asked Hilary some questions- specifically ones relating to mentoring. Mentoring is a very significant concept that all of us should both take note of and utilise, and who better to ask than one of our guests at the GirlBoss Leadership Day?
Hi Hilary, please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I’m the former General Manager of Special Group — Auckland and Sydney based advertising and design agency. Having left a few months ago, I’m now an independent brand and communications consultant.
So how did you get involved in Global Women, and can you also tell us what you guys do?
Global Women run a programme for 40 NZ Breakthrough female leaders each year and I’m lucky enough to be a participant in 2016. Global Women is a collective of NZ’s most influential female leaders, their goal is to promote diversity and inclusion for women.
A big focus of our Leadership Day was mentoring. What, in your opinion, is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who can lend experience and advice on either life or career matters. A mentor relationship can provide invaluable direction for the big decisions you make in life.
Can you talk about the difference between facilitators and mentors?
Typically, a facilitator is used in a group situation to fuel discussion or ideas and generally steer the direction of conversation. A mentor is a personal and individual relationship where one person is offering advice and the other is receiving the value of it. In my view, the best mentor relationships are those where a mutual trust is struck up and the person seeking advice can talk openly and freely.
How can, specifically, a young person get a mentor?
I believe the best mentor relationships are those that occur organically, so look within your immediate circle of family, friends and connections to see if there’s someone who can offer expertise in your area of interest. Beyond this, if there is a particular career field that you’d like to pursue there are often mentoring schemes in place — search the web for these. Emailing someone you even loosely know for a coffee and a chat is a good way of discovering whether you have found someone you like and would trust.
Does this make networking really important?
In New Zealand, opportunities often come from your personal network —it’s all about who you know and how you are connected. Networking allows you to expand your connections and can also open many exciting doors for you.
How can we get girls in schools to network more, as it is a very enclosed environment? Is there a greater demand for Leadership Days for this kind of purpose?
Networking for girls, with girls, is a superb idea. GirlBoss gives people a clear and inspiring reason to come together, meet and share perspective. Networking between schools however, may not be the best method to seek out a mentor, particularly if you are looking for someone with career experience. Once again, I would suggest starting with your own circle of friends, family and connections.
And Leadership days? The world definitely needs more of them! A forum that brings a diverse group of girls together, united by the desire to change the world by being girls? It doesn’t get much better.
Thank you Hilary for your answers in this interview and your attendance at the GirlBoss Leadership Day. It was a fantastic learning opportunity for those who attended the GirlBoss Leadership Day, as are your answers for this interview.
Say yes to more leadership days!
Written by Maitreyi Aria Jain