Manufacturing News

Women in manufacturing – mentoring pays dividends

Wednesday (18th) night saw 23 women from nine companies graduate from this year’s Women in Manufacturing Stepping Up Advance Program.

The program, which has run for three successive years, is designed to meet the specific needs of women managing manufacturing concerns or those who manage manufacturing or supply chain departments.

Although the program includes instructor-led sessions, it’s the mentoring component that really seems to have a lasting impact on participants.

Talking at the graduation, program coordinator Deborah Rose highlighted how an overwhelming number of this year’s graduates had endorsed the value of having someone from outside the business to talk with openly and freely.

Rose indicated that it was clear from the feedback that employees embroiled in their day to day tasks, seldom have an opportunity to assess both business and career challenges strategically.

As one mentee put it, “We tend to forget to step back and check if we are on the right track because of busy workplaces. It was good to take the time and reflect and think about career/business goals and values.” “Another key benefit derived by this year’s participants” said Rose, “ is confidence.”

“Having a more experienced practitioner act as a sounding-board for ideas and to respond to proposals in a neutral fashion, enables participants to enjoy the sort of endorsement and support that builds confidence and boosts self-esteem.”

A graduate shared her experience, saying: “I had a wonderful mentor that encouraged me and helped me overcome many challenges. I gained invaluable support and knowledge.” Another said: “The program has lifted my confidence to tackle challenges.”

And another: “There is no doubt that this program increased my confidence and self-belief in dealing with workplace problems.” The third most common benefit seems to be the value of shared experience. Many of the women talked about the benefit of being able to be connect with a group of women — both mentors and mentees — who they could learn from and interact with.

Talking about this aspect, Deborah encouraged the women to continue to build these relationships and prosper from this network which can endure well beyond the program conclusion.

Many mentors who attended the gradation evening, also shared the benefits they had derived in volunteering their time and experience to the program.

Increasing listening skills, learning not to dictate approaches but to facilitate discussion, making recommendations and allowing mentees to reach their own conclusions, are all skills that will stand mentors in good stead in their professional capacities.

In concluding the graduation evening, Miki Cooke, VP of apics NSW and a mentor in this year’s program, noted that although finding the time to always meet with a mentor or mentee can be challenging, “the rewards for those who invest the time and effort, are great.”

Thanks were extended to Industry and Investment NSW who continue to support this program and also to the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony, Kathryn Fagg, President FMCG APAC at Linfox.

Fagg, who shared her own experiences of building a career in a male dominated sector provided a fitting conclusion to this year’s program as she inspired all present to explore the benefits of tapping into female talent.

Fagg stressed the business benefits of diversity and how top performing companies had a proactive strategy that set targets for employing women in leadership roles.

People interested in participating as mentors or mentees in the Women in Manufacturing Stepping Up program 2010 should contact Linda Henry Business Manager at apics NSW 02 9891 1411

apics (The Australasian Production & Inventory Control Society) is a non-profit association that exists to foster professionalism in manufacturing and associated supply chain activities, through the services it provides to its members.

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