Kaleidoscope Mentor – Andrea Williams

We spoke with Andrea Williams (LinkedIn), a mentor for the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program, and asked her to share her experiences from participating in the program.

1.  Tell us a little about your own employment/professional history?

I own and operate a medium-sized company called Asset Reports, which I started in 2007 and now have approximately 55 staff Australia-wide. We service the investor market by providing a wide range of Property Reports.

2.  Why did you sign up to be a mentor?

The main reason I signed up to be a mentor is that when I migrated to Australia at the age of eight years old, I had to watch my parents restart their careers with little assistance along the way. I wanted to use my personal experience, knowledge and contacts to help make someone’s journey a little more seamless by offering support through a challenging transition.

3.  What was the best part of being a mentor?

Being a mentor was a rewarding feeling; I enjoyed meeting Alice and learning about her background. The most rewarding part of the whole mentorship was being able to help Alice gain confidence in her own ability and take positive action.

4.  Tell us about the skills you have gained so far from participating in the program.

The main skill I gained was the ability to adapt very quickly to Alice’s personality and way of learning.

5.  Can you tell us about any challenges you faced as a mentor?

The biggest challenge I faced as a mentor was learning to take a step back and let Alice lead the way. I was often tempted to write her cover letters and do the whole application for her, but I knew that it wouldn’t be beneficial in the long run. We spent a lot of time editing cover letters together and it resulted in her recognising the importance of the changes suggested and how she can learn from them for the next time.

6.  In your opinion, did you improve your cultural competency through participation in the program? In what ways?

Yes, absolutely. The biggest thing that surprised me was how the mentees viewed the job advertisements online. In Australia we are quick to respond to job advertisements by applying online, emailing or calling the company. However I found that the mentees read every single word of the advertisements and will not apply if they believe they have not met just one part of the selection criteria. I encouraged Alice to apply regardless as employers are not always going to get exactly what they are looking for. I also learnt about the way the workforce functions in Vietnam and how it differs to Australia.

7.  Would you be more inclined to employ a skilled newcomer in your organisation, since undertaking the KMP?

I was always very happy to employ newcomers to Australia and especially now after meeting so many. Newcomers come from all economic and socio-political backgrounds and bring unique viewpoints and different ways of doing things. Most importantly, if we embrace cultural diversity in our own companies, we are giving people a chance at a new career and possibly one that they may not have had before moving to Australia.

8.  How does participating in the program expand your community networks or knowledge in a particular area?

The program expanded my knowledge in the complexity of Project Management. As I have run a business for most of my adult life, I have always been dealing with my own team. It extended my community network as I was able to reach out to people that were not in my industry to ask for assistance and advice for Alice.

9.  Do you think other professionals should start mentoring? Why?

I think that everybody with a professional background should be a mentor. It improves our knowledge of the world and the journey behind someone migrating to Australia. Naturally, you also develop your own leadership skills, improve communication and personal skills, and remind yourself of everything you could teach somebody. It is also a wonderful experience for the mentee to even just have somebody to call and lean on.

10.  Do you have any tips that you would give to a new KMP mentor?

The tip that I would give to a new KMP mentor would be to advise the mentee to be less critical of themselves when reading job advertisements online. Some job ads are overly detailed, and it can really throw the mentee off. I had to explain to Alice that she can still apply for jobs even if she did not meet all the selection criteria. In conclusion, the main bit of advice I have to offer is to be patient with the mentees. They are facing a whole new professional world and need as much encouragement as possible to lock in their next professional role.

Want to become a KMP mentor? We are continuously recruiting mentors, apply now for KMP Cycle 1 2021.

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The Kaleidoscope Initiative has been supported by the State Government through the Office of Multicultural Interests. 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.

Kaleidoscope Mentor – Manuel Grosshans

Manuel Grosshans

We spoke with Manuel Grosshans (LinkedIn), a mentor for the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program, and asked him to share his experiences from the participating in the program.

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?

Yes

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.

Kaleidoscope Mentee Success Story – Narmada Sreelatha

We spoke with Narmada Sreelatha (LinkedIn), a current mentee Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program, and asked her to share her experiences, benefits and successes from the participating in the program.

1. Tell us a little about your home/country.
I was born in a culturally diverse and beautiful southwestern coastal state of Kerala in India.

2. Tell us a little about your employment/professional experience in your home country.
I have a postgraduate in Marine Structural Engineering with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. My professional experience in India is in a few different roles such as Lecturer in Civil Engineering, Estimator and Coastal Researcher. Like everyone else, I moved to Australia with a million dreams about life and career.

3. How long have you been in Australia (and WA in particular)?
I have been living in Australia for four years now. I migrated to regional WA in 2016 with my husband.

4. Can you tell me what challenges have you faced in your job search journey in WA?
The biggest challenge I faced to get into my career field was the lack of local experience in Australia. It was also quite difficult to get a job with overseas qualification and without actually knowing anybody working in the field.

5. What skills did you gain from participating in the Mentoring Program and how did this help you in your job search?
Joining Kaleidoscope’s mentoring program and attending their workshops were the best steps I took towards my career start. Each of these workshops were tailored for a migrant to get familiar with the Australian workplace and the culture. Knowing and practising these would definitely have a big impact on one’s career success in Australia.

6. What are three key benefits (e.g. confidence) you gained by joining the program?
The first and the best thing is that I got connected with a mentor, who has extensive experience in the industry. It also helped me to get familiarised with Australian workplace culture, which is different from my country and what I am used to. Other skills I developed by joining the program are the knowledge of writing resume and cover letters matching an advertised job, networking skills, interview skills, effective communication skills and the list doesn’t end here.

7. What was the best part of being a mentee? 
Being a mentee was a big confidence boost for me. My mentor Mr Manuel Grosshans has taken every effort to help me gain that confidence. He guided me in all the possible ways, and this is the reason I obtained the job I have now. I am sure all the mentors in this program are doing their best and, as a mentee, I am grateful to each and every one for their kind gesture to help migrants to follow their dreams. There is also a friendly network among the mentees, who help and care each other. One of them, Ms Thuy Le, is the reason for me to land my first job in my field.

8. In your opinion, did you improve your understanding of Australian workplace culture and job application processes through participation in the program? 
Definitely. My approach to the job application process has changed a lot after attending the program. The success after four years of unsuccessful job applications is a feeling beyond words can express. I honestly believe it is the professional network and the skills from the program that brought me to the doorstep.

9. In what ways did participating in the program expand your community networks or knowledge in a particular area?
It was extremely helpful to keep up-to-date with the current scenario and job market with a great social media network such as a LinkedIn group of all the mentees, mentors, and mentoring coach.

10. What advice would you share with a new mentee starting the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program?
To have regular meetings and contact with the mentor. Find out the areas you need improve and discuss it with your mentor at each meeting. You are right up there, and it is a bit of confidence you need to chase your dream.

11. Can you tell us a little about your new job?

I am currently working as an Estimator with a plumbing contract company. My duties involve preparation of accurate cost estimates, preparation and submission of tender documents for hydraulic services for construction projects.

Applications are now open

Interested in becoming a KMP mentee? Applications are open now. Spaces are limited, apply today to avoid missing out!

Click here to apply for the mentee program

Want to become a KMP mentor? We are continuously recruiting mentors, apply now for KMP Cycle 1 2021.

Click here to apply for the mentor program

Want to know more about KMP?

Register for an upcoming online information session and find out everything you need to know about joining KMP cycle 1 2021.

The next mentoring cycle is running from January to May 2021. Applications are open between 1 October to 1 November 2020.

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.

City of Stirling builds inclusion through Diversity Champion Network

The City of Stirling’s recently launched its first Multicultural Framework, a high level guiding document that underpins the City’s approach to achieving its vision for an inclusive and harmonious community.

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