One of the best ways to build sustainable female leadership is through mentorship. Which is why, to honour Women’s Month, we’re celebrating the role of mentors in the workplace – and the ripple effect of mentorship as a whole.
We spoke to six Thompsons Travel participants of Cullinan Holdings’ in-house mentorship program, Cullinan’s Got Talent. Here’s their experience:
Why is mentorship important to women in business?
“Mentorship empowers women in the workplace, so that their voices can be heard,” said Marilize De Beer, Accounts Clerk at Thompsons Travel. “It is important to me to grow, not just in the company, but also to grow as a person who can lead others in the future.”
For Corporate Consultant Paula Tshabalala, “mentors help you strengthen your weaknesses and improve your strengths; help you build necessary skill sets you need to master that which you want to be great in.”
Thembekile Baleni, Junior Project Manager at Thompsons Travel, agrees: “Mentorship gives young women the knowledge, skills, support and guidance they need to work their way up the career ladder.”
“Mentorship inspires you, pushes you, drives you, and helps you connect with others,” said Lulu Butshingi, Receptionist at Thompsons Travel. “Mentors prepare you for everything that’s out there.”
Eva Chauke, Junior Travel Advisor at Thompsons For Travel said: “Mentorship activates your skills and grooms you for the next level.”
What are some of the stand-out highlights from the Cullinan Holdings mentorship program?
Paula’s takeaway highlight from the program was leadership training. “As a woman who aims to be a successful entrepreneur in a big growing business world one day, it is quite important that I have the right prerequisites needed to lead a successful business and empower and inspire other young businesswomen.”
Thompsons Travel Team Leader, Carmi Platen said the one thing that stood out for her is that you must treat your desk as your own business. “This has made a tremendous impact in how I work now. I strive to work smarter not harder because I would do whatever it takes to make my “business” a success.”
When Thembekile completed the program, she said she felt like she could tackle the world. “Out of everything I learned, what I’d say I took home was to take responsibility for my own work and ensure that everything I do, I deliver it to the best of my capability.”
What skills do women need to thrive in the travel industry?
According to Marilize, women need confidence to stand up for themselves – and to stand up for others in various situations. “They need to be able to delegate to a team, to ensure that everybody works together to achieve the end result.”
Paula said: “The business world is dominated by men and although that is changing with the times, there are some people that believe women lead with their hearts more than their heads. So, a great communication skill set is a must.”
What are your thoughts on the current representation of women in leadership roles within the tourism industry?
At Thompsons Travel, it’s a revolution,” said Thembekile, “most managerial positions and leadership roles here are filled by women.”
“Tourism is a big industry and there are definitely more doors opening up for women. The world is starting to realise that women are capable of leading businesses to success,” said Paula. “And yes, we are able to lead with both our hearts and minds, that’s what makes us extraordinary and different from men!”
Any advice for young women starting out in the business world?
“Be confident to know that you can take on anything or any challenge coming your way and that you’ll strive to do your best no matter what,” said Marilize.
“As cliché as this may sound, there’s only one of you in this world and no one has your vision,” said Paula.
What does Women’s Day mean to you?
Women’s Day is a celebration of how far we have come despite the social injustice and patriarchy we have been facing for years,” said Thembekile.
For Paula, Women’s Day is an opportunity for acknowledgement and appreciation. “We are made of great stuff. By that I mean we are smart enough to make big great influential decisions while we take care of our homes. We can and we are running big businesses while we are great mothers and great wives.”