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Mentoring provides benefits to Mentors as well as Young Water Professionals

AWA’s mentoring program is a highly regarded opportunity for young water professionals to develop important career skills but it also provides mentors the chance to share their hard-earned experience and consider new perspectives. Past mentors and mentees have shared their most memorable moments and key takeaways to encourage others to get involved with the program.

The 2023 Queensland Mentoring Program is open for registration and will commence with a launch event on Wednesday 1 February for mentors and mentees to meet and hear how to navigate a meaningful mentoring relationship and get the most from the experience. Registrations are open.

Shanae Walker, QLD YWP Subcommittee member spoke with previous mentoring pairs to hear their thoughts about the value of the AWA mentoring program:

Eamonn Flynn, Program Director at Downer Group (Mentor) & Raphael D’Almeida, Enterprise Performance Analyst from Unitywater (Mentee)
“Inviting Rapha to come and spend time with our team to socialise, bounce ideas around and hopefully pick up some useful information that can help support him on his journey seemed like the natural thing to do. 

The plan was to have Rapha attend our office on the same day we were having a Maori cultural initiative in New Farm Park so he could see a few different aspects of how we do business in our program partnership. 

Rapha also had the opportunity to bring along his partner to the Maori cultural event, which was great.

Rapha is in data analytics guru and has a keen interest in Operations, so we teamed him up with our data analyst Mo Rahmanipour who shared knowledge and best practices with Rapha which generated good conversations. Rapha attended some meetings with me to get a bit more visibility of my management style which was hopefully helpful to him”. Eamonn Flynn

“It was really good for me career-wise, Eamonn has a lot of experience and was able to help me put into perspective what I want to accomplish and what are some of the steps I could do to get there.

The exposure at his workplace was great as well, as I was able to see first-hand his leadership style and a different work environment to what I’m used to.

I’ve spent a long time in Unitywater and it was very good being able to see how things are outside. It was great to exchange some ideas with some peers from his team.

As you know I’ve recently changed jobs at Unitywater, and part of that was thanks to the mentorship conversations. Prior to the mentorship I might have wanted to stay close to my comfort zone. Eamonn helped me understand the importance to keep moving forward and growing based on my own style and career aspirations.

It’s important to keep motivated and challenged, and this was my main take from the mentorship with Eamonn.

All in all, it was a great experience and I am immensely thankful for his mentorship”. Raphael D’Almeida

Natalie Muir, Regional Director – Water & Environment/Climate Solutions Leader from Cardno – now Stantec (Mentor) & Chantal Keane, Specialist Strategy and Corporate Planning Integrated Solutions from Urban Utilities (Mentee)
“I am constantly blown away by the talent that exists in our YWPs. Chantal was no exception! So much energy and drive. So many things that she has done in her career already.

Talking to Chantal was also a great reminder about the depth and breadth of our industry. I have an engineering background, so can sometimes get a bit blinkered about “engineering”. There are lots of other disciplines that contribute to the water industry and lots of different career paths for people. We really have an amazingly diverse industry.

It was a great experience and I love getting to know new people! I’ve already registered for the 2023 program 😊”

It was great to meet Chantal and it was quite an amusing introduction.

Two other highlights were when we had a virtual coffee catchup with some of the other mentor/mentee pairs and I also really enjoyed the mid program check in event. Both were a great opportunity to meet other people and to reflect”. Natalie Muir

“I think this experience helped me to understand a bit more about women in leadership, career pathways and working relationships. The more people I meet, the more of an idea of the industry and its people I can develop. I’m always trying to learn and expand my network, so it’s hard to really put into words the specific learnings from this experience alone. Nat was also a great listener to it was easy for me to talk talk talk, so a self-reflection was to just stop talking and ask more questions of the other person in my day-to-day life!

I would absolutely consider being a mentor, but I’d love to gain some more experience in the industry first so I can give educated advice. 

Meeting Nat was my favourite part – she’s a very down-to-earth, relatable and approachable human and I’d be lucky to have her as my manager!! We also both had a limp from falling off a motorbike and a mountain bike, respectively, when we first met, so we bonded very quickly!!” Chantal Keane

Wayne Middleton, Australasia Water Business Leader from Arup (Mentor) & Andrew Walz, Planning Engineer from Mackay Regional Council (Mentee)
“I've always hoped that the mentee gets as much value from our time together as I do as mentor. Working with Andrew for 12 months was no different.

I learnt that mentoring on MS Teams works just fine and means we can focus on matching up on skills, experiences and personalities as opposed to focussing on location. 

Working with Andrew taught me just how innovative and agile young engineers need to be when working for regional councils. Some of the projects and challenges he faces in his role requires plenty of skill and expertise but more-so great teamwork, collaboration, and engagement. This has been our focus for discussions, and it's been wonderful to see Andrew flourish in a new role at Mackay Regional Council during our time together”. Wayne Middleton

“When the AWA Virtual Mentoring Program was first suggested to me, I was unsure on how effective the mentoring program would be. A bit like a long-distance dating relationship, sound great in theory but does it really work? 
I found the virtual experience of being mentoring extremely beneficial to my personal growth. Wayne gave me prospective and has challenged me to consider the direction of my personal life & career in the present and future. Things that I have never really put much thought into before. I feel empowered to continue to grow my skills in the Water Industry. The virtual mentoring between Wayne and myself was flexible, easy and enjoyable. I have made a life-long mentor and friend in Wayne.
This program made me realise that regional engineers do not get the exposure or the access to the vast Water Industry in Australia. This virtual form of mentoring allows regional participants access to such a large pool of mentors who were previously inaccessible due to geographic location. I would highly recommend any regional engineer to participate in the AWA Mentoring Program”. Andrew Walz