Reed recognises that diversity is a key component of any successful team. Unfortunately, due to disproportionate representation of women in the technology talent pool – especially at more senior levels – it is often a struggle for businesses to achieve true diversity within their teams.
Aaliah Haq, Transformation Consultant at Transport for London, is a mentee within the programme. On why she joined the scheme, Aaliah said: “I was at a crossroads in my career, and I was initially looking for impartial advice from someone who had been in the same situation and got through it. I needed advice around transformation and moving companies.”
Aaliah believes the scheme is important because “traditionally, women have not been very good with supporting each other, which we need to be in order to break down barriers. We are still underrepresented in tech.”
Her mentor, Beverley D’Orsaneo, Contract Programme Director for Refinitiv, explains: “Women tend to be more reticent in putting themselves forward for roles that would suit their ability and often try to mirror ‘male’ attributes rather than celebrating what they bring to the table.”
After 20 years as the leader of a global team, she started contracting and felt she was missing the chance to develop, coach and support professionals in the sector. “Women try to avoid games and politics and prefer honesty – this sometimes means they need others to bounce ideas off to increase their confidence.”
I’m enjoying this programme, and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my career to date – this helps me to think about what I want to achieve going forward.
Transformation Consultant at Transport for London
Reed matches mentees and mentors based on several factors: location, background, key strengths, skills sought, challenges they are looking to overcome, and desired outcomes identified during the enrolment process.
Once matched, the pairs discuss the best ways they can work together during the 12-month programme, including one-to-one mentoring, mentoring network access, group coaching and unique event access.
Beverley said she joined the scheme because mentoring gives her “the opportunity to help others” with her own experience. “It is a two-way street. It is for me to help someone else, but it also clarifies in my own mind why I might do something or act in a certain way. Sometimes, these behaviours are natural, but you don’t know why until you have to explain it to someone else.”
They were able to meet face-to-face for the first time, since it was before the first national lockdown, and the pair decided on fortnightly calls – or more, depending on the situation. “I provide advice and support, and sometimes we go through current situations as well as looking at longer term goals for my mentee’s career.”
Aaliah said her mentor is on a similar path to the one she was thinking of taking and that “the programme sounded like an excellent way for women to begin building each other up.”
Beverley has helped her with her CV and with a slide deck to gain support for a project launch – which got a positive response from the group she was presenting to.
Reed developed the Women in Technology Mentoring Programme to facilitate change in the technology sector, making it easier for women to transition into tech jobs and maximise their potential in their current roles.
Aaliah says she finds all aspects of the programme to be beneficial, especially the one-to-one mentoring, which gives her opportunities to focus on specific points that are most relevant to her. She said the best piece of advice that her mentor has given her is: “Have courage in your convictions!”
On her overall experience, Aaliah declared: “I’m enjoying this programme, and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my career to date – this helps me to think about what I want to achieve going forward.” She has also become a mentor herself since starting the scheme.
The main benefit Beverley believes she has given her mentee is confidence: “She is much more confident now, and she now has the ability to understand the politics of situations. She now has someone to vent to when she is feeling emotional but can’t express it in the workplace.”
Based on Aaliah’s feedback, Beverley believes her support has helped her mentee become clearer about her future and potential opportunities. She says that she and Aaliah are a “perfect match”.
Organisations also benefit from signing up to the programme. Mentors and mentees will help develop the company’s technology and leadership teams, increase retention through development opportunities, enhance and promote the employee value proposition, and expand its network of women in technology.