1. Tell us a little about your own employment/professional history.
You can find out more about my professional experiences from LinkedIn (LinkedIn). Maybe a more interesting story is how I ended up here in WA. After university, I started to travel and I wanted to go to New Zealand as it’s the furtherest away from Germany that you can go in this world (or so I thought at the time). Having travelled through Central America before, I was absolutely shell shocked with the prices in NZ (youth hostels mainly) and ended up convincing my mother to loan me money to buy a camper van. The camper van promptly blew up and so I ended up having to work. After the classical episodes of kiwi fruit packing and working in hospitality, I ended up on a construction site building apartments in Napier. My boss and mentor there had a good network and organised a site engineer role for me with McConnell Dowell. So it came that having studied commercial construction and construction management, I ended up in marine works. This “sink or swim” approach apparently succeeded as I am still doing it 15 years later.
Once I completed the projects in NZ I was asked if I would like to move to Perth to start a FIFO role building wharves in Port Hedland. I have now started my own company providing this site experience to contractors and clients. Our services include for example constructability, pre-contracts work, tendering and estimating amongst others.
2. Why did you sign up to be a mentor?
I have been a mentor twice now. I initially signed up because I read a LinkedIn post from Susan Kremmer Pickford (LinkedIn) at Engineers Australia (LinkedIn). I also vividly remember the shock I went through when I experienced my first time in the Pilbara.
3. What was the best part of being a mentor?
It is rewarding to be able to see mentees develop and succeed.
4. Tell us about the skills you have gained so far from participating in the program.
My mentees have both been from countries I have never visited, so I have appreciated the chance of expanding my horizon and getting an insight into different cultures.
5. Can you tell us about any challenges you faced as a mentor?
During this cycle COVID-19 obviously had an impact as it is challenging to build a relationship with someone you have only ever see on screen.
6. In your opinion, did you improve your cultural competency through participation in the program? In what ways?
It certainly helped me to appreciate the different background of other cultures and their approach to authorities and tasks.
7. Would you be more inclined to employ a skilled newcomer in your organisation, since undertaking the KMP?
8. In what ways did participating in the program expand your community networks or knowledge in a particular area?
I have certainly gained an appreciation for coastal engineering and my mentee’s lecturing at tertiary institutes.
9. Do you think other professionals should start mentoring? Why?
Absolutely. It is a good feeling to give something back and I hope it really helps the mentees.
10. Do you have any tips that you would give to a new KMP mentor?
The mentees are amazingly courageous people starting a new life here in Australia. They took initiative by having changed their whole life and frames of reference to start again in a foreign place. They have as much to teach you as they can learn from you. Take your time and enjoy the experience.
The Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program is being implemented under a partnership between the City of Stirling, the City of Canning and Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and the Western Australian Government. The Program has been created in consultation with the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Their successful TRIEC Mentoring Partnership program is the model for mentoring programs across Canada and internationally.