7 Outstanding mentorship programs: A look inside top companies

May 2, 2023
mentorship programs

How many times have you found yourself inspired by Oprah Winfrey? Have you ever found yourself wondering what or who inspired her? 

Well, maybe you’ve never thought about it, but in case you’re about to click away and Google it, don’t because we’ve got the answer for you. 

It was Maya Angelou, the acclaimed writer and poet, who mentored Oprah. Angelou was (and continues to be) a powerful force for change and an inspiration to many young writers and activists, but Oprah has said that Angelou’s guidance and support helped her become the person she is today.

While not everyone will be lucky enough to have access to Maya Angelou, there are some amazing mentorship programs around that can help fuel your own success. 

So, if you are looking for an employer that values your personal and professional growth, look no further than these seven outstanding companies. Having already been endorsed by WORK180 as organizations that prioritize diversity, inclusion, and work-life balance, they go even further to offer initiatives and advice to help you achieve your career goals. 

Powerlink | Deloitte | Whitehaven Coal | Woolworths Group | QFES | The Star | Stantec

What do they do?

Powerlink is a leading Australian provider of high-voltage electricity transmission services, combining innovation with insight to deliver safe, cost-effective, and reliable energy solutions.

Their purpose is to connect Queenslanders to a world-class energy future, providing electricity to five million Queenslanders and 238,000 businesses.

What mentorship programs do they offer?

Graduates of Powerlink Queensland’s Accelerate Women in Leadership Program have the option to participate in the Accelerate Mentoring Program.

The leadership development program seeks to accelerate the development and careers of women at Powerlink, enabling them to be ready for career progression opportunities. 

It creates dedicated spaces for connection, consideration, and growth, offering opportunities for women to begin clarifying their professional goals and realize their own potential. Through connection, development, and learning from each other over 12 months, our participants graduate with increased awareness and actions that will help them succeed in their chosen careers at Powerlink

Mentees in the Accelerate mentoring program:

  • Are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking
  • Increase their confidence and self-esteem
  • Have opportunities for dialogue and guidance from leaders
  • Are provided with personal growth and support for achieving goals
  • Are provided with opportunities to advance their knowledge, networking, and communication skills
  • Receive support in achieving increased clarity in personal direction and development of ideas
  • Develop skills to enable better career prospects and choices
  • Gain ideas and techniques for balancing work, life, and family
Testimonials & advice

“My mentor has motivated and inspired me to continue growing both personally and professionally through challenging and exciting experiences. He has openly shared his knowledge and strategies while encouraging and supporting me as I continue my career development. His constant support has been invaluable.

“I know that we are all busy but when considering our career development but take into account the rewards of becoming more efficient and effective in everything you do after making the time to focus on your development. Allocating time into busy schedules to reflect on your achievements and areas for development while improving your skills will give you a great opportunity to set yourself up for future success.”

– Sharelle Pedley (she/her), Enterprise Portfolio Planning Lead

 Lutfiye Manli powerlink

“I had a great mentoring relationship with my mentor. He encouraged me to do a self-assessment test to understand myself better and more importantly to identify what I want for my future in my career. This was an eye-opening experience for me. The assessment results helped me develop a career plan with my mentor. Now our discussions are very robust and focus on the plan I developed with his assistance.

“I definitely recommend everyone to have a mentoring relationship. It helps to understand your strengths better and more importantly how to use your strengths in your career as well.”

– Lutfiye Manli (she/her), Manager Asset Management System

DeloitteDeloitte logo

Consulting & professional services | 5,001-10,000 employees

What do they do?

At Deloitte, they are driven to create an impact that matters at every opportunity.

Over their 175-year history, they have built a reputation for impactful delivery across audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and technology services. Supported by a strong leadership team, and member firms from over 150 countries across the globe, Deloitte Australia is in the business of solving complex problems.

What mentorship programs do they offer?

Deloitte offer programs and initiatives dedicated to advancing women at all stages of their career.

  • Skills academies – designed to propel their people of all levels and business areas to thrive whilst achieving their vision of being a human-centered business, enabled by technology. Learning topics include digital fluency, adaptability, creative problem solving, and leadership.
  • Leadership podcast series – exploring key topics to enable their people to build skills for the future. 
  • Inspiring Women program – a unique development program that equips over 100 high-potential women from Graduates through to Directors, across all our offices, with the skills, support, and opportunities they need to accelerate their career growth. As part of this program, participants are empowered to: 
    • Navigate a successful career path that is meaningful for them. 
    • Address individual barriers to career success. 
    • Raise confidence and build their professional profile. 
    • Build future leadership capabilities. 
    • Make a positive difference for women within and outside of Deloitte.
  • Lean IN Circle program – provide a forum to bring together small groups of women in Director roles with a dedicated Group Coach for a six-month program. Connecting on a regular basis, the purpose of the sessions is to help their talented women:
    • Gain clarity about career goals. 
    • Build confidence and courage. 
    • Identify and overcome personal barriers. 
    • Build their network.
  • Partner coaching – All first- and second-year female Partners are provided with dedicated one-on-one coaching to help them navigate any career and family challenges they may be experiencing, along with navigating their new role.
Testimonials & advice

Yandy So Deloitte

“I was part of the Inspiring Women program in 2021. I enjoyed the ‘pay it forward’ mentality, the supportive vibes, and being able to job shadow senior women leaders across Deloitte

“This made it real for me, as I was able to see how others navigated the demands of a very senior role with a balanced attitude.

Deloitte has a uniquely supportive and authentic culture, where leaders have your back. Often, these environments could be seen as competitive, but when you feel that targeted support from ‘top down’, you are empowered to unlock the potential of others and thrive as a team.”

– Yandy So, Director | Workplace Integrity 

Whitehaven Coalwhitehaven coal logo

Mining, resources & energy | 1,001-5,000 employees

What do they do?

There’s so much more to Whitehaven than your everyday mining job.

They are Australia’s leading producer of premium quality coal, which powers modern high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired power stations in the Asian region.

They offer diverse opportunities where you can aim high and grow your career.

What mentorship programs do they offer?

Whitehaven has an ongoing commitment to participating in the WIMnet mentoring program which pairs women seeking guidance and support with more experienced members of the industry who commit time to their professional development.

The introduction of women’s leadership development programs in conjunction with the Inkling Group to support women is taking their careers to the next level. There are two cohorts – Aspire, for emerging talent, and Inspire, for senior leaders. The program incorporates 1:1 coaching, actioning learning circles, and sponsorship which is designed to increase participant visibility to leaders at Whitehaven, build participants networks across the business, and strengthen participants ability to operate in a leadership position.

Testimonials & advice

Hollie Sampson Whitehaven Coal

“My experience as a mentee with the WIMnet mentoring program was really positive. 

“I actually didn’t apply but was offered the opportunity by Whitehaven and it came at a really good time. I’d been in my role for just over a year and felt as though I had settled in enough to take on a development opportunity.

“Although my mentor and I worked in different functions of our respective businesses, there were still a lot of similarities between our roles and our experiences in these roles. And because my mentor had been through a lot of the different situations I was going through – or something similar, she was able to offer valuable advice and support.

“One of the main things we concentrated on throughout the mentoring program was setting goals around developing skills that were transferable to a range of roles like public speaking, conflict resolution, etc. These are all skills that I use in my current role too.

“Some highlights of the program for me included the friendship I formed with my mentor! Although our formal mentoring relationship has ended, we have both agreed to keep in touch. And also getting to know the women in our company more! Some of them I may never have crossed paths with because we don’t usually work together on projects, but now I have a great network of supportive women across the business.

“My advice would be to lean into the program and be open to being a little bit vulnerable and uncomfortable at times. It doesn’t feel good in the moment, but this is where I found the biggest opportunity for personal growth lies. Remember to take opportunities after the program has ended too, so you can continue to build on the skills you’ve been working on during the program!”

– Hollie Sampson (she/her), Aboriginal Community Relations Officer & WIMnet Mentoring program mentee 2022.

Woolworths Group Woolworths logo

Retail & fashion | 5,001-10,000 employees

What do they do?

Woolworths Group is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading retail groups, supporting well-known brands such as Woolworths, Big W, Cartology, Primary Connect, and Countdown. Their great team is focused on creating better experiences together, for their customers, their communities, and for each other.

Testimonials & advice

Alison O’Neill has enjoyed the range of career options available to her. It has allowed her to experience different roles and learn new skills to find the position that suits her best:

“I am grateful for the many and varied career opportunities. I’ve had different projects to work on, leaders to learn from, personal mentoring, development programs and networking. There are so many ways that Woolworths Group has helped me with my development. I am just blessed to work here.”

Alison ONeil Woolworths

Click here to read more about Alison’s journey with Woolworths Group.

Queensland Fire & Emergency ServicesQFES logo

Defence & emergency | 10,001+ employees

What do they do?

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is the primary provider of fire and rescue, emergency management, and disaster mitigation programs and services throughout Queensland. They deliver this through our Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), Rural Fire Service (RFS), and State Emergency Service (SES).

Their role is to provide leadership, mitigation planning, and a responsive service to ensure the safety of the Queensland community. They aim to protect people, property, and the environment through the continued delivery of emergency services, awareness programs, response capability and capacity, and incident response and recovery for a safer Queensland.

Whether you’re on the front line or supporting those who are, every role within QFES counts.

Testimonials & advice

Jane Houston QFES

“The value of a mentor cannot be underestimated. I highly recommend having a mentor and being a mentor. 

“My advice is to make sure you know what you want to get out of the mentor/mentee relationship. It should not be confused with a coach, or even a sponsor who will use their currency to advocate for you. A mentor is someone you can share the good, the bad, and the ugly with. The mentoring relationship provides a forum for you to share your fears or concerns about a particular issue. It’s someone you can bounce ideas off, someone who can provide advice when you haven’t got things quite right, and someone to celebrate your triumphs with.”

– Jane Houston (she/her), Acting Executive Director Strategy Directorate

The Star Entertainment GroupThe Star logo

Hospitality & tourism | 5,001-10,000 employees

What do they do?

The Star Entertainment Group’s vision is to become Australia’s leading integrated resort company. They are an ASX-listed company that owns and operates The Star Sydney, The Star Gold Coast, and Treasury Brisbane. Alongside their partners, they are also developing the transformative $3.6 billion Queen Wharf Brisbane project.

Testimonials & advice

Rachel Kilderry The Star

“In my role as a manager/leader in the Table Games department, I have had the pleasure of mentoring many team members with great success. 

“It is a gratifying experience to see team members develop and achieve success through the guidance and advice that I have provided. It is especially gratifying when I can recognize their talents and abilities and help them see those qualities within themselves.

“Through my mentoring experiences, I have learned that it is important to always be oneself and learn from everyone. Supporting others’ choices, guiding them, and helping them grow as individuals is vital. Focusing on their strengths and providing them with positive reinforcement is a great way to develop their talents and help them be the best version of themselves.

“Mentoring has been an incredibly valuable experience for me, and I am proud to see so many of my mentees go on to become successful leaders in the business with their own successful mentorships. It is a privilege to be able to pass on my skills and knowledge to others and to contribute to the development of the team. 

“At The Star, we value a culture of growth and development, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

– Rachel Kilderry (she/her), Assistant Gaming Manager

StantecStantec logo

Engineering | 1,001-5,000 employees

What do they do?

The Stantec community unites approximately 22,000 employees working in over 350 locations across six continents. They care about the communities they serve—because they’re their communities too. That’s why at Stantec, they always design with the community in mind.

They’re designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Testimonials & advice

Stantec Renata

“Vulnerability and trust are so important to being a good mentor. When you admit fallibility and show authentic emotion, you develop trust and show emerging leaders that you do not need to be perfect or have it all figured out to progress to a certain level. 

“It also gives the person you are mentoring permission to share their challenges which helps to understand and gives context. A good mentor seeks to understand their mentee, rather than only sharing their personal experience. Approachability is also important to allow the mentee to feel more comfortable asking for mentorship in the first instance, as well as reaching out if they need support outside of scheduled meetings.”

– Renata Tracey, Civil Group Leader, Principal & Stantec Mentor

Stantec Charlotte

“I was paired with my mentor, Ruchira Somaweera, shortly after joining Stantec. Our pairing quickly became one of the most inspirational and influential professional relationships I have made to date. I was immediately treated as a valuable colleague, assisting in tasks that directly impact my team’s key objectives, while simultaneously developing my personal growth. 

“As a mentor, Ruchira has had a profound impact on my career, and the environmental services technical knowledge that he has shared will benefit me for the rest of my career.”

– Charlotte Boehm, Graduate Environmental Scientist & Stantec Mentee

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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