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WIMARQ mentoring creates opportunities for two-way growth

Mentoring programs reward both mentees and mentors with opportunities for shared learning.

Sitting across from mentor Daniel Aspinall, Head of Assets for Australia West, and his mentee Akala Street, Mechanical Engineer with Glencore Technology, the mutual professional respect they feel for one another is obvious.

Akala and Daniel were paired up mid-2023 as part of the Queensland Resources Council’s Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) mentor program, of which Thiess is a platinum sponsor.

Reflecting on her reasons for joining the program, Akala was looking for guidance on how to navigate her future opportunities as a young female engineer in the mining industry, and she was looking forward to working with an experienced female engineer.

Akala said, “Initially I was disappointed when I learned I’d been paired with a male mentor; I couldn’t see how he would be able to give me the guidance I wanted.”

That initial disappointment was quickly turned around when she met Daniel and they started their mentoring sessions.

She said, “Daniel gave me a different perspective on things and opened my mind to a new way of thinking. Honestly, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work with Daniel.”

For his part, Daniel was inspired to join the program to give back to the industry and saw this as an opportunity to pass on the good advice he was given when he was new to the industry.
Learning is often a two-way street, and this was the case for Daniel and Akala.

Daniel said, “I feel that I learned just as much from Akala as she did from me. She would commonly tell me about a challenge, the context, the nuances and then talk about a way forwards and I'd honestly have nothing to add—she’d covered everything as part of her thought process.”

Mentoring has taught Akala to lead with honesty and have conversations with managers and colleagues with confidence and a sense of knowing it’s OK to make mistakes. Having been presented with a project management opportunity during the year, she felt self-assured enough to step up into the role, partly thanks to her learning with Daniel.

On top of this, Akala was invited to present to all the mentors and mentees at the closing event held on Thursday, 8 December.

While outside of her comfort zone, Akala jumped at the chance, saying, “mentoring has been a career changing experience for me, and I feel it would take away from others if I didn’t present.”

With the program now wrapped up, Akala and Daniel hope to stay in touch. Akala has also expressed an interest in becoming a mentor herself in the future.

If you’re interested in participating in the 2024 mentoring program, keep an eye on the WIMARQ website for application opening dates.

WIMARQ mentoring creates opportunities for two-way growth