Career mentoring: Sydney style

Darling Harbour, Sydney
Chris Sheedy By Chris Sheedy, CA Today

23 August 2016

An event organised by the Sydney ICAS branch introduced attendees to the ICAS Mentoring Scheme - Career Connect - and gave them hands-on experience of being a mentor and a mentee.

Before attending the ICAS Sydney mentoring evening, Lewis Tulley thought mentoring was all about career counselling. Once the event was over he had an entirely new appreciation of the value of one-on-one conversations with mentors.

“The event expanded my understanding of the value of mentoring,” Lewis, Executive, Transaction Services at KPMG Australia, says. “It really is all about sharing ideas, and I found that very useful.”

“I discussed with two different people a real problem that I am having at the moment. Their approaches to mentoring were very different. One shared their experience and the other asked me a lot of questions to help me shape my own response. I will definitely be incorporating their advice into my work. It had a very real outcome.”

The event, devised by ICAS Sydney Community Chair Jonathan Dunlop and Graeme Reid, an ICAS member who is now an executive coach, was intended to introduce members to the current ICAS theme around developing your career through mentoring. The new KPMG Sydney offices hosted 34 attendees, many from the younger end of the age spectrum, but also some more experienced members.

“One of our most senior members, Turner Massey, came along and I think he was thrilled,” Jonathan says. “He told us he loved the evening and he got a lot out of it as a mentor and as a mentee.”

And that was the point of the evening, to give attendees an appreciation of both sides of the mentoring process.

Getting to know you

The event began with a welcome from Jonathan, then a talk from executive coach Graeme, the most prolific mentor of ICAS members internationally, on the key skills required by a mentor. Jonathan and Graeme then went into a role play, with Graeme as the mentor, to illustrate what mentoring is all about.

Then it was the turn of the attendees who paired up and spent 10 minutes at a time in discussion, with one as mentor and one as mentee, before swapping roles.

“Some of the people who came along had the impression that they had a little bit more experience and therefore would probably be a mentor to a younger CA,” Graeme says. “But I wanted to demonstrate to everybody that at some points in our careers we all need to be mentored, and that it can also be beneficial to mentor others. Everybody had the experience of both sides rather than being pigeonholed into only one role.”

Midway through, Graeme held a debriefing discussion to hear how things were going. After some tips about best practice for the mentoring process, the attendees paired off again for one more session.

“Some of the comments we were getting back from even the most experienced people were around the fact that it is great to get a different angle on various issues,” Graeme says. “People could see the benefits from both sides, and that is what the ICAS Career Connect Mentoring Program is all about. It is about opening mentoring up to all levels of professionals.”

People said it opened their eyes to mentoring relationships.

Graeme says he was delighted by the level of engagement in the room. “All 34 people were completely interested in the subject and got really involved,” he says. “It was a wonderful atmosphere and you could see people were really engaged in their conversations. I can't remember ever being at an event where there was that level of engagement from every participant.”

The challenge now, Jonathan says, is to develop a register of ICAS members in Sydney who are interested in mentoring or in being mentored, then managing that group locally.

“The feedback after the event was very positive,” Jonathan says. “People said it opened their eyes to mentoring relationships. So our challenge is to work with ICAS to create a little bit of a local mentoring network.”

“Encouragingly, people also told us that if we keep doing events like this they would be interested in coming along and inviting colleagues, too. Our next event is on 12 September, and it will be a big one, we have the President and CEO of ICAS running an event for us on The Power of One. I encourage our Sydney members to book early to be sure of a spot.”

The Power of One: Sydney Dinner will take place on 12 September 2016. ICAS President Ken McHattie and CEO Anton Colella will be in attendance to discuss the importance of ethics for CAs. Tickets for ICAS members are free.

About the author

Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac , Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.


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