ABCN mentoring program group image

The most important thing I learned from my mentors is that failures are just lessons to be learned.

Over three weeks in March, 11 passionate female leaders from across Ventia's Sydney operations participated in the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) workplace-based mentoring program - Focus. The group mentored 10 female students from Lurnea High School in Sydney's south west. 

ABCN Program Manager Samantha Tan says Focus is designed to provide young women with the essential leadership skills they need to engage in a successful, meaningful career. 

"The initiative addresses the under-representation of women in senior roles in Australia," Sam says. "Through the program we support young women to develop their leadership skills, aspire to senior roles in business and the community, and foster a sense of self-belief that will encourage them to aim high."

ABCN is a purpose-led, not for profit organisation that brings businesses and schools together to address educational disadvantage.

Hosting positive experiences

Ventia became involved in ABCN in 2017 and since then dozens of our employees have helped mentor high school and primary school students in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney through ABCN programs like Focus. 

Ventia's Group Executive Digital Services Karen O'Driscoll stepped up as a mentor and said she found it very rewarding. 

"I loved seeing the young ladies grow in confidence," Karen says.

The mentors all had so much to give. I could see how much the students learned from us all, and how much we were challenged to learn from them also.

The students themselves really enjoyed the connections they made with their mentors, with lessons learned including failure is totally ok, leadership requires good communication and empathy, and it's ok not to know where you are going to end up - it's about the journey! 

Representatives of the school added that they were really pleased to see students open up over the three sessions and agreed that the students gained confidence in their leadership potential and were more motivated to take leadership roles at school.

ABCN mentoring program group image on Zoom platform

Due to COVID restrictions, the first two sessions were held over Zoom, and the third session was hosted by Ventia in our head office in North Sydney.

Sam says it was great to see everyone come together in that final session. 

"The room was filled with positivity, encouragement and aspiration and there were some really heart-felt words exchanged during the completion ceremony," Sam says. "Ventia provided a great group of mentors, and the students were very positive in their feedback asking me for more programs as we were heading down in the lift!"

ABCN mentoring program group session in North Sydney

Other comments from mentors included:

"Great program, great to reflect on your own learnings and how these can help others. Great to understand the challenges and concerns of young women in all walks of life."

"Very rewarding, even if you're super busy (which we all are), it's worth the effort and will give you a boost in an otherwise hectic workday."

"As well as being able to contribute my own experiences I also learned so much from the opportunity to self-reflect."

Overall, 100% of the mentor group agreed that the opportunity Ventia offered to participate in the program was valuable, and they'd recommend it to others. 

Ventia's Sydney team have three more programs planned for 2021, and there are a number of similar programs underway in Brisbane and Melbourne throughout the year.