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Australia’s next leaders seek confidential mentors to get ahead

By Wendy McCarthy AO - posted Monday, 21 May 2012

Australian executives surveyed for a report on their mentoring experience claimed that having access to a confidential mentor ‘who had some runs on the board’ and was external to their organisation was often life changing.

Mentees reported that the key impacts of mentoring were gaining confidence, courage, skills and networks to manage a range of professional and personal challenges.  Thirty two per cent of the mentees interviewed were CEOs or senior executives, 60 per cent worked in finance or law and 71 per cent were women.

The executives sought advice from mentors to secure a leadership role, to manage work and family commitments; some looked for cultural insights to help them become part of Australian business. They used the time with their mentors to reflect, discuss their career paths, their definitions of success and how to develop strategies to manage a range of workplace problems and issues.  In most cases they sought guidance in managing the transition from technical competence to leadership.


The report entitled Managing Power, People and My Career - Australian Executives share their mentoring storieswill be launched in Sydney by Women in Banking & Finance.

The study draws on a sample of the 600 mentoring relationships organised by McCarthy Mentoring over the past 14 years to identify which aspects of mentoring were most valuable to mentees.

“Australians in 2012 complain of stress, long working hours, anxiety about their careers, decreasing leisure time and a constant juggle of work and family commitments”, said Sophie McCarthy the author and General Manager of McCarthy Mentoring.

“Mentoring helps people find their voice and the career and life they want.  A valuable mentor is a trusted sounding board who helps you see options and make choices.  It can be a confronting process”.

“Although dating back to Greek mythology mentoring has become a popular professional development tool and I hope this report will assist people who are setting up effective mentoring programs or looking for their own mentor”, said Ms McCarthy.

“From the organisations perspective it is a tangible and efficient way of rewarding highly motivated emerging leaders while assisting them to grow professionally and personally and better understand the external world”.

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About the Author

Wendy McCarthy AO began her career as a secondary school teacher and remains passionate about the power of education. For four decades she has been a teacher, educator and change agent in Australian public life.

In 2005 she was nominated by the Sydney Morning Herald as one of Australia’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals. She has worked with government, corporations and community based organisations in education, women’s issues, public health, heritage, media and waste management and she has held national leadership roles in all of these areas. It is this eclectic combination that gives her a unique profile and network nationally and internationally. She has represented Australia at conferences on women’s health and leadership, education, broadcasting, conservation and heritage and for four years was Chair of the Advisory Committee of WHO Kobe Centre, Japan.

In 2005 Wendy completed a decade as Chancellor of the University of Canberra. Wendy was a founding member of the Australian Chancellors’ Conference. Her corporate advisory practice, McCarthy Mentoring, specialises in providing mentors to major corporations and the public sector.

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