10DEC21 is the application deadline for women within the air cargo industry seeking to benefit from the guidance of one of 25 industry experts in WAL’s first ever Mentorship Program. Announced at the IATA WCS in DUB last month, it is now due to go live in JAN22. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) spoke to Emma Murray (EM), CEO & Founder of Meantime Communications, Celine Hourcade (CH), Managing Director of Change Horizon, and Justina Messeiller (JM), Senior Consultant at Change Horizon, who are the driving forces behind WAL - the Women in Aviation & Logistics initiative.
“The new WAL Mentorship program is designed to support and encourage the next generation of female leaders in the aviation and logistics industry, bringing them together with a mentor who can introduce them to new ideas, help build confidence, and share knowledge and insight. The scheme is free to join and requires a minimum four-hour commitment over four months, with mentees asked to provide a short write-up at the end of their mentorship,” the press release reads, also pointing out that “Twenty-five executives representing airlines, airports, forwarders, tech and drone companies, associations, and logistics experts have registered as mentors, with the full list available on womeninaviationandlogistics.org.”
Having had first-hand experience of the life-changing benefits that focused mentoring can bring, at a time when I was at a career-crossroads, I was keen to find out more about this new, industry-specific mentoring scheme aimed at empowering women in air cargo logistics. An unbiased, fresh perspective from someone within the industry, and not necessarily within your company, can trigger all kinds of positive change, from the confidence to take the stage as a speaker, to dealing with conflicts within a team, to better negotiating salary increases, preparing for promotion or job change, and a whole lot more. I asked Emma Murray, Celine Hourcade, and Justina Messeiller to outline a little more about the program.
CFG: What led you to the idea for a mentoring program?
EM: I have had the great good fortune of having incredible role models and mentors who have given me support, encouragement, and confidence throughout my career. I simply wouldn’t be where I am without them, and I know it.
When we launched WAL [in MAR21], we had feedback from women who said that they lacked the confidence, know-how, or opportunity to connect with people who could give them that lift or spend time with them to share knowledge. We know that this is a fantastic industry, full of passionate people ready to share and support, so our thought was: we have a great platform with WAL, now how can we make those connections? And what would that look like in order to have a program, which delivers tangible results and which we can build on? A mentorship scheme was the obvious answer.
CH: During my tenure at IATA, I contributed to launch the association’s diversity program, MOSAIC, and found it extremely fulfilling and meaningful to mentor younger colleagues, formally and informally. I am happy to have built long-term relationships with these young women and proud to have contributed to their career development. I have also been extremely fortunate to count on several mentors during my career, and hope to continue benefiting from mentoring, both as a mentee and mentor.
JM: I strongly believe that exchanging experience, knowledge and wisdom is a powerful tool to self-develop and to advance gender equality in a workplace.
CFG: The mentor line-up is mixed gender, with around 40% male and 60% female, yet the mentee placements are aimed at solely at women. Would male mentee applications be welcome, too?
CH: The WAL program is aimed at positively encouraging gender parity in airfreight industry and currently women are underrepresented at all levels of business organizations, especially in leadership roles. We believe that by empowering future female business leaders we will be able to increase the number of women at every level of air cargo companies. While we call for women mentees at this stage of our program, we believe that both men and women leaders have valuable experience to share as WAL mentors.
EM: Women in the industry often lack confidence and are not sure who to turn to for advice, information, networking, and support to grow and develop. It is this NextGen of females the WAL movement can give a boost to with this program. We do not want to build an exclusive club for females to mentor females, rather we aim to support these women by introducing them to the right mentors, regardless of gender, with the time, insight, and connections to give them the lift and confidence they need.
CFG: What can mentees expect from the free program and how long does the mentoring last?
EM: An introduction to a person who will support your ambition backed by experience, knowledge, and contacts. A chance to ask questions and learn from a mentor who is invested in your success. Your mentor’s full attention in a safe – no question too big and no question stupid - environment. The chance of a lifetime to connect and learn from an incredible person with bag loads of knowledge and a drive to help you succeed. Both mentee and mentor will have to commit to a minimum of four hours over four months and the mentee will need to have goals in mind and be prepared to report back to WAL. We have set up guidelines to make this easy.
CH: We encourage every mentee to come with a list of concrete objectives in mind such as deepening their understanding of the air cargo industry, building confidence on how to engage senior executives, growing their network or learning about what it takes to have a good work and life balance as mothers. We hope the WAL mentorship program will be a catalyzer in four development areas: executive presence, personal brand and reputation, strategic thinking, as well as power and influence. We aim to kick off the first batch of mentoring in early January when the mentor-mentee pairs will meet for the first time. The mentoring will be driven by the mentees and the mentoring will last until late April 2021. We plan to report on the results before next summer.
CFG: Can aspiring Mentors still sign up?
JM: We are proud to have a diverse group of 25 experienced air cargo leaders who joined the program, and are pausing from recruiting mentors, now, as we work towards the first launch of the program in January 2022. However, anyone interested is welcome to sign up and will hear from us, as this will be an ongoing program.
CFG: Mentees have until 10DEC21 to apply. How long will those who miss the deadline have to wait for the next chance? It is an annual program?
CH: We are currently putting all our efforts in making the upcoming mentorship program a success and call all women professionals eager to get a new perspective in career development to join the program before 10DEC21. Our goal is to make a true and long-term change in our wonderful industry, and we will definitely be pushing the WAL initiative forward next year with mentorship, promoting our expert database and inviting more companies and individuals to join our diversity Pledge.
CFG: What message would you like to give those hesitating to apply for mentorship?
CH: Don’t miss the opportunity to be paired with one of our 25 fantastic mentors who have volunteered their time!
EM: Don’t hesitate! This is your moment, and you have industry leaders waiting to give you the lift you need and support you. Four hours over four months is not a huge commitment – but just imagine the difference that just one hour’s attention and conversation with one of our mentors could make for you. Go for it!
Thank you, Emma, Celine, and Justina, for sharing your views with us.
If you are interested in signing up or nominating a mentee (by 10DEC21), you can do so via www.womeninaviationandlogistics.org
I also encourage all women out there to make use of this great unique, industry-specific opportunity, because mentoring can certainly help you to get off the ground. Hence the title of this piece!
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