On 22nd November, the Women of the MBA Group and their guests came together to explore the importance of mentoring and how both mentoring and networking can be crucial to career development. The group were delighted to welcome speakers Irial O’ Farrell, Evolution Consulting & Mary Cronin, Thousand Seeds.
We heard how mentoring is a two way relationship, and that we all need someone to inspire us to do better than what we know. An interesting statistic shared at the event from a WXN survey was that 91% consider mentoring critical to career advancement. Irial advised us on the benefits of having a sponsor that is not our line manager. We should develop relationships with people outside of our own function or department, who will promote and recommend us and introduce us to their network. Hearing stories from Irial and Mary on how mentors have helped them get where they are today left us in no doubt of the importance of mentors and sponsors. Attendees, both male and female included current students, recent graduates and more experienced graduates of the MBA programme. Those of us in more senior positions were reminded by Kevin Spacey that “if you are lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down!”
The focused networking session had us at different times interacting with one another, sketching like Van Gogh and sipping on wine by the roaring fire! We were reminded to attend networking events with a plan and a goal, even when sometimes that goal may not be clear. If you don’t know what you are looking for it is harder to find! And during those awkward initial conversations, be interested before you are interesting!
We were left with the final words from Mary; “It is not the mountain we need to conquer, but ourselves”. In today’s world with all the noise and potential burnout, we need to decouple the chaos, challenge our self-limiting beliefs and trust ourselves. We can make the most of ourselves by believing in those tiny inner sparks of possibility and turning them into flames of achievement.
As a current MBA student in Smurfit, I was recently involved in setting up a women’s network on campus – the Women of the MBA. Last Friday, 17th June, we successfully launched the group at an event attended by both male and female, past and present students of the MBA.
We were delighted to host a panel discussion with four exceptional female Alumni: Grainne Barron, Founder & CEO Viddyad; Mary Lambkin, Professor of Marketing, Smurfit; Marcella Flood, Head of Digital Transformation, Allianz Worldwide Care & Orla Nugent, MBA Programme Director, Smurfit.
The theme of the night was how the Smurfit MBA can empower women to become leaders and take a seat at the table. We heard stories of the challenges of being female in Silicon Valley, stories of how an engineering background evolved into a career in academia, and of how being the eldest in your family gives you a natural advantage when it comes to being a leader! All of our speakers spoke candidly and openly about their journey to where they are today. It was a very engaging discussion which sparked some lively conversations during the Q&A. A common thread running through all of the stories was the importance of self belief and hard work in achieving your goals. Another prevalent theme on the night was the importance of eliminating gender as an issue for the benefit of future generations. This is why I believe it is so important that we get together to build networks such as the WMBA.
The MBA here at Smurfit has empowered so many great female leaders and it is a great time to be a woman in business with such initiatives as the 30% club. The WMBA hope to work on a number of initiatives to support female students and will host further networking events in the coming months for both male and female Alumni.
As the seanfhocail goes Ní neart go cur le chéile – There is no strength without unity. By coming together in unity we can keep this conversation going, men and women alike, to increase awareness and affect change collectively.