Inspiring Women | ‘Immense’ benefits of mentoring explored

The benefits of mentorship have been laid out in an Inspiring Women webinar, jointly hosted by NCE and its sister title Construction News last month.

The event was the first in the Inspiring Women in Construction and Engineering programme, supported by Curtins, and the series will focus on mentoring and industry support before culminating with an awards ceremony later this year.

Incendium Consulting associate director Ewelina Kruk told NCE editor Claire Smith that when "learning a very technically dominated craft", the support she gained from mentoring was "immense".

She added: "For someone to walk me through even things that happened in meetings and just explain what was actually being discussed [was helpful] because you could walk in and be a bit overwhelmed.

"It was also an opportunity to bounce ideas off someone. It's empowerment, guidance and assistance with understanding things we know we don't yet fully understand."

On the flip side in terms of being a mentor, Kruk said she "can't explain how rewarding it is to know that your words and support have enabled someone to flourish".

Meanwhile, Steer Support and Mentoring director Josie Rothera explained that her first role was working for a main contractor. There weren't many women on site so mentoring made a real difference.

"When I first graduated I had a line manager who by the nature of the support and confidence he gave me fell into that mentor role," she explained. "He was that person I went to time and time again even once that project had finished and we had moved to different companies because of the support he had given me and the trust I had in him and how much I valued his opinions."

Rothera now runs Steer Support and Mentoring which provides mentoring for undergraduate students. She said this is a really important activity as they transition from final year into the industry which can be a "daunting" change.

Overall, mentoring helps students understand what opportunities there are and find someone to speak to at an early stage.

Built by Us founder Danna Walker started as an apprentice electrician which meant from an all girls school to an all male environment. In itself, this experience has convinced her that as a woman breaking into the industry, mentoring is key.

"It's incredibly powerful to have that allyship," she said.

Now she is a mentor and also facilitates mentoring. As an organisation, Built by Us has seen the transformation mentoring brings "not only in the mentees but the mentors as well", enabling the development of, for example, interpersonal and communication skills.

Business-wise, there is also a role for mentorship within companies to attract, maintain and nurture talent.

Walker explained: "It helps you futureproof your organisation as well. Research is suggesting over 70% of millennials expect mentoring when they get into their new roles. The idea that we don't support people is not something a lot of millennials will entertain in terms of their expectations of their jobs."

Rothera added that mentoring is also an opportunity for businesses to promote themselves and mentors can build their own confience too.

Looking ahead, a key barrier to the uptake of mentoring is a lack of appreciation of its benefits and the preconception that it requires a lot of resources, according to Kruk.

Organisations tend to think a lot of work and resources are needed but this is "vastly inflated" in terms of the reality, she said.

"Often no one can sit down and articulate the benefits," Kruk added. "We know what they are but articulating it in such a way that the business can take it forward is a bit tricky.  It becomes a big thing and I think that's the biggest obstacle."

The webinar will be followed by a series of events including a collaborative awards programme for which entries will open in April to identify role models in technical excellence, outreach, leadership, and contributions to projects.

Register below to watch the webinar:

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