Mentoring – a young professional perspective

IPAA Queensland asked several senior executives in public purpose about their view on mentors and mentoring. You can read the great insights of the leaders we spoke to here.

But – what about the newer professionals? What are their views on mentors? Are they a great resource? We took time to ask a couple of younger professionals for their take on mentors.

Rebecca Murray

The mentor I think of fondly wasn’t through any formal arrangement. As much as I have had formal arrangements in the past, the one I think of immediately was my manager at the Department of Environment and Science.

He gave me my first leadership role. I hadn’t had much experience in leading a team and he gave me an opportunity to lead a team within Right to Information.

He not only took a chance on me, he gave me flexibility within my role. I react terribly to micromanagement – if you want to micro manage me, I will lose all my creativity and confidence because you are constantly checking up on me and what I am doing. It is awful! I was very lucky in that he didn’t do that to me – and he could have done, because I didn’t have direct experience in leadership.

What he allowed me to do was create new systems for the team; the results formed the basis of my winning the IPAA Queensland Top 10 Young Leaders Award. My manager had complete confidence in me – it was fantastic. The systems the team now have in place now are innovative and efficient and the team was so supportive. The team were really accepting of me – which I was really grateful for.

I didn’t come into the team in the space of ‘this is how we are going to do things and I know everything’. I rather came in from a place of ‘I have some really good knowledge about the Right to Information Act, but you work in this space and have done for years ’ and I learned from them.

You must have the perspective of ‘my team are going to be the people who will make me a great leader’.   They are the people who will give me the information I need; and they were incredibly talented at that. Bringing to me systems that I wasn’t familiar with so that once I was comfortable, I could start thinking about ways to make things better for everyone. Over time, my team saw what I could do and built trust in that.

Matthew Ashby – Department of Health

“I have been very fortunate to have a few different mentors so far in my career. My current mentor, Morgan Donohue is the Director of Clinical Applications and he has provided me with support, and direction – he doesn’t provide me with advice which is good – but he has provided me with great resources. One of the first things he had me do when he became my mentor was, he suggested I read this book – ‘Life in half a second’ – and it was a fantastic book. We found a common interest in Simon Sinek and he recommended that I read some of his work and from there it completely changed my philosophy on leadership and people management.”

“The other is Ryan Spain – he is the Director of Business Applications and we met on LinkedIn after I started talking about doing my MBA through Deakin. He shot me a message and said that he saw that I was interested in doing an MBA, and that he had just completed his and was keen to catch up. At that stage I didn’t know who he was, only that he was from the same organisation as me. I looked at his role title and was just amazed by his title and who he was. Since there we have become quite good friends. Once again he has given me a lot of strategic support around career choices.”

“Craig Hodges who is the COO at Best Practice Software – he provided me with so much support. And Jason Hall – the Director of Business Support at DIDSMIP. He is based in Brisbane and one of my newer mentors. I met him a few years ago. We also met over LinkedIn after I started a conversation about policy and how I was interested in policy as I knew it would come into my career at some point. So he reached out and we caught up and just clicked. We have since always kept in touch and it was only earlier this year that I formally asked him to be my mentor. He has given me so much guidance.”

“My biggest mentor is my current manager Ryan O’Donoghue – who is a self-proclaimed servant leader. Without his support, and him seeing the possibilities and my passion…he has sent me away on management training, he has endorsed me for my university work, he has given me stretch projects – the amount of support in difficult HR situations – he has given me so much strategic advice. He is the manager I want to be. He is fantastic.”

It’s clear. Mentoring can provide mutual benefit to both the mentor and mentee. It is a way for senior leaders to give back and nurture the development of the next generation of public purpose workers. For mentees, it is a way to seek out best practice and learn from experienced professionals.

The question for you to ask is – who will be your mentor?

About IPAA Queensland:

IPAA Queensland is the professional association for people engaged in public purpose work.

Our mission is simple. We promote and enhance the professionalism, capability and integrity of public administration and pride in service.

We do this through a program of thought leadership forums and events that enable our members to build their connections, challenge their thinking and keep informed about contemporary issues.

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