As the end of year approaches, it’s a time to reflect back on 2018 and look forward to our plans and aspirations for 2019. Every year is different for each of us and has its own challenges, highs and lows. Professionally, my highlight has been launching a second year of Advance, a mentoring programme supporting the professional development of Women in Transport members.
Angela and I designed and launched the pilot programme of Advance in 2017 with our 20 matched pairs meeting from January to September 2018. After the first quarter, we knew we had a successful model and sought sponsorship for a second year. We were thrilled to secure financial support from four of our mentors with an expansion to 30 pairs for Advance 2019, a testament to the success of our pilot year.
I have been asked several times about our process and so here’s a bit of an insight into what’s involved.
Applications opened on 1 October 2019 for two weeks and we were delighted to receive a similar volume of applications to the previous year; 69 for mentees and 50 for mentors. Angela and I read each and every application and spent a day together in late October selecting 30 mentees and mentors. We consider a number of factors including stated objectives, experience and discipline. We strive to have enough diversity so that we can match people outside of their organisations and have been lucky to have 50/50 gender split in our mentor cohort for 2018 and 2019.
The next stage was a training session for both mentors and mentees, generously hosted by SR Group. This was an opportunity for self-reflection, discussion and preparation for the mentoring relationship. The pilot programme taught us that preparation is an essential component to success in any mentoring relationship. We asked our mentees to reflect and analyse their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and question what they wanted to achieve in the coming year. This training is mandatory for mentees. Angela and I actively listened and observed the four sessions and then we matched.
Our final 27 pairs had an informal opportunity to meet at the annual mince pies and networking event at Lewis Silkin on 5 December. Formal mentoring sessions will start in January with a commitment to six sessions by September 2019. The festive period provides a time to celebrate, reflect and prepare for the year ahead. We look forward to our mentees achieving their professional aspirations and resolutions for 2019.
We would like to thank TXM Group, Xanta Rail, Steer and Cubic Transportation Systems for sponsoring the second year of Advance, enabling Women in Transport to continue to advance women working across the transport sector.