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13 March 2024

The Navitas Mentoring Program – one year on!

One year on from Navitas CEO Scott Jones announcing the organisation-wide Navitas Mentoring Program on International Women’s Day in 2023, it is timely to look at how the program has developed over the last 12 months.

The mentoring program was designed to connect colleagues from all over Navitas by providing a structured framework for one-to-one mentorships that allow both mentors and mentees to benefit from shared learning and experience and the transference of knowledge and skills. Run in partnership with Women and Leadership Australia (part of Navitas’ Careers & Industry division), the bespoke global program aims to build the skills and capabilities of mentors across Navitas so that both mentor and mentee are set up for success. In addition to helping to advance the careers of women at Navitas, the mentoring program meets broader Diversity, Equity and Inclusion objective to provide opportunities for employees to learn from the experience of others.

We spoke to a mentor/mentee partnership to hear about what inspired them to sign up to the program and their experiences so far! Mentor Fiona Richards, General Manager for Global Sales and Marketing Operations based in Brisbane, was matched with mentee Mona Umapathy, Academic Director at SAIBT in Adelaide.

What inspired you to register your interest to participate in the Navitas Mentoring Program?

Fiona: I have been involved previously with several informal mentoring programs, both as a mentor and a mentee, and was excited to see Navitas formalising a program.

Mona:  I felt that I was at a stage in my career where formal mentoring was important for me to understand my people-management and leadership skills. Although I am confident as a leader, I am conscious that it is not a ‘one-size fits all’ approach and wanted to develop my skills as a leader.

Why did you choose to be a mentor/mentee in the program?

Fiona: When I have participated in informal mentoring programs with other organisations, I have gained so much from being able to connect with others from outside my direct team. Being able to bounce ideas off of others, and work through challenges with someone not directly involved in the situation at hand is such an advantage. Skills I then learnt as a mentor have also helped me develop as a leader.

Mona: I am both a mentor and a mentee in the program. As a mentor I wanted to be able to support someone with similar interests and who was looking to further their skills into academic leadership. As I mentee, I was willing to learn from someone who was experienced and who could be a sounding board for me to share my thoughts and views, and to be able to guide me to be a better leader.

Was it easy from the start, or has your relationship grown over time?

Fiona: Mona and I were complete strangers when we were paired with each other, and so like any other relationship it has grown closer over time as we got to know each other and develop trust. We have though, from our initial meeting, found that we were comfortable speaking with each other, and our chats often ran over time!

Mona: Fiona and I hit it off well from the start and over time, our mentee-mentor relationship has developed for me to be able to share my deepest thoughts.

How did you overcome the distance if you lived in different locations/time zones?

Fiona: Mona and I quickly set up a meeting schedule that we stuck to. Initially we started with fortnightly sessions, which we were going to review over time to see if they were too regular, but we discovered that speaking every two weeks worked for us. In between we messaged via Teams or emailed each other if we needed a check-in.

Mona: From the get go, we scheduled fortnightly zoom catch-ups at a time that was convenient for the both of us.

What are your top 3 takeaways from the program so far?


  • No matter what our role within an organisation, we all face some similar challenges.
  • An impartial ear is such a valuable asset when working through issues.
  • Navitas is filled with amazing people that we don’t always get to know in our day to day roles.

Mona: Going in with a clear goal, everybody is different, and there is so much more to gain when we have a neutral ‘sounding board’ on thoughts, ideas and approaches.

Would you be involved in the program if it were to run again?

Fiona: Definitely!

Mona: Definitely!

Would you recommend the program to others, and what tips would you pass on to those who are interested in participating in the next round?

Fiona: Take advantage of the training and guidance offered at the start of the program as it will build some skills and tools you can use as you get started.

Mona: Yes, I already have been recommending it to my own staff and for those who are interested, it is important to build a rapport with your mentor/mentee such that both parties can benefit from the relationship. Having a very structured session/idea of session can sometimes limit how much you can gain from the interactions.

Do you have any other comments/feedback you’d like to add?

Fiona: Take a leap of faith and become involved, it is an amazing opportunity to connect with colleagues across the organisation that you wouldn’t normally get to know.

Mona: My main comment is that Fiona has been such a great mentor. Not only has she been in-tune and very supportive during our scheduled catchups, she’s also been willing to be a confidant who I can touch base with outside of our sessions.

A quick recap…

After opening the program with a call for expressions of interest, we couldn’t have envisaged a more positive response from our global workforce!

A total of 120 employees from a diverse range of backgrounds, roles and regions indicated a willingness to serve as mentors to their colleagues, eager to help broaden skill sets, build confidence and advance capabilities in every corner of the Navitas network.

155 employees raised their hands to be considered as mentees, keen to soak up the experience and valuable learnings of others to further their own professional development.

Interestingly, 86 employees felt they would be suitable as both a mentor and mentee – assisting a fellow colleague while also benefitting from mentorship themselves.

After having approx. 180 staff trained on building their mentoring skills via our Women & Leadership Australia college, the Navitas mentoring program was ready to hit the ground running last July with a total of 132 mentoring connections established across the Navitas global education network.

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