Senior Specialist in the Organisational Capability team at BHP Billiton Coal shares some real success stories from mentoring women.
We are proud to say that we have mentored over 30,000 women with our my mentor: Courageous Woman program. Why has the program had such reach? Quite simply because it works! To hear some recent success stories from this program, read Maureen Frank’s interview with Caron Yep, the Senior Specialist in the Organisational Capability team in BHP Billiton Coal.
Caron: The biggest sort of impact or benefit I’ve seen is the opportunity that it provides for women to meet with other women in the work place and hear their perspectives, share experiences, discuss issues and challenges that women face in our industry and how to overcome them. It’s really created a strong network and a support system for the women participating in the program. For some women, they are working in very male dominated areas so they don’t have much contact or much opportunity to meet other women and this network is something they’ve never had before. To have the support network to learn from each other and know that you’re not the only one out there, has been a huge benefit of the program for participants
Maureen: What are your observations of the impact of the my mentor: Courageous Woman program?
In terms of the tools, the program has really given people a framework to think about not just their professional but also personal goals. Many of them have got the confidence now and motivation to pursue opportunities that they’ve been thinking about but didn’t really feel they had the belief or the know how to really put themselves out there and go for what they wanted. It’s really given them that motivation and that confidence to ask for what they want.
Maureen: Fantastic, that’s awesome. Can you go through your stories of how this has impacted individuals?
Caron: Yes sure, I’ve got three examples actually, that really stood out. One was an individual whom, this was actually their first development program that they participated in and they weren’t sure what to expect and whether it would be beneficial in the beginning. However, one of the key impacts have been that they had the confidence to actually study a university degree as well as continuing to work full- time. Something they had been considering for quite a number of years now, talking about constantly and procrastinating and sort of second-guessing the idea. Working through the program, it’s encouraged them to stop putting it off and take that calculated risk and start the university degree, this is going to really help them in their career.
The second one was actually a person when completing the goal setting module, found that it really helped them identify what they’d like their next step to be. They subsequently had a discussion with their Superintendent and found that they were very supportive and arranged some development opportunities in the department for this individual. So being on the program helped them have the confidence to share that aspiration with their Superintendent, and this combined with the exposure they’ve got and through word of mouth, this person has become more visible to other areas in our business. This has resulted in 6 months in a different department, which is more in line with their interests and where they want their career to go. They know this is going to be a stretch for them and something that will put them out of their comfort zone. Even though this is a little bit daunting, they feel like the my mentor: Courageous Woman program has equipped them to take up the challenge and to really go for it. Previously they thought that they would have probably shied away from such an opportunity, just based on their self-doubt that they wouldn’t able to do it.
Then the other story that really stood out, was someone who’s been wanting to move into an area for quite some time and just hadn’t had the opportunity for one reason or another. They have actually got the job of their dreams now. They were Supervisor and they kept applying for a similar level role in a different department and because of different leaders sponsoring them and organisational changes occurring at the same time, they weren’t able to be released.
Then after doing the program, they really got the courage to go out and really state their case and speak up and articulate the benefits of being placed in this role and how they would still be able to support the wider team. Prior to the my mentor: Courageous Woman program, they probably would just have gone with the flow and just sort of let that door close and not have the courage to speak up. In time, they probably would have left the organisation as a result if they couldn’t find the right opportunity within our company. So this was a really positive story in that the person has now got to do what they wanted to do after completing the program and we have retained a valuable employee.
Maureen: Would you recommend the my mentor: Courageous Woman program to women who want to accelerate their careers?
Caron: Yes, 100%. I think it’s relevant to all women at any point in their career cycle, especially those who are in those step-up roles or just taking on a leadership role for the first time. The program just gives you the support and focus that you need. I think the program is good, also if you’re stuck in a rut and you are looking for a change and you need some motivation. The great thing about it, is that it is not just about work and helps you balance out all those other areas in your life, so you can really focus on your career.
Maureen: Thanks Caron, I really appreciate your feedback and I’m very pleased to hear of those great success stories from BHP Billiton Coal.
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