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Hire & Rental Australia

World first Women in Hire program – what its participants really think

The HRIA Women in Hire program has now been running for just on 12 months and has proven successful for all its participants, so much so, other rental industry associations around the world are taking note and launching their own Women in Hire programs.

Designed to give women opportunities to develop leadership skills, build confidence and pursue a successful career within the hire industry, the program is now taking Expressions of Interest for the 2019 Women in Hire Mentoring Program for both Mentors and Mentees.

Mentors (both women and men) will need 5+ years’ experience in the hire industry. You’ll need a passion for sharing your knowledge and experience and a desire to support women in hire develop critical leadership skills to achieve their goals.

Mentees can be women working in the industry including those in operational roles, or with a desire to be in an operational role.

Here we talk to one of the programs Mentees and one of the Mentors to gain an inside perspective on the highs and benefits of being a part of this world first program.

Rose Reck – Mentee For the past 12 months, Rose Reck, has been the Service Administration with Queensland Forklifts, coordinating the daily jobs for five road mechanics. Her role has also included enhancing internal systems to improve customer service and maintain OHS compliance / service standards for the hire fleet as well as stock control, stock management, and purchasing.

“I was looking for a change of industry and a position that was challenging but had the right work life balance so I could continue to study (Bachelor’s Degree),” Rose said.

“I met with Laurie and Mick and the rest of the team throughout the interview process and knew pretty quickly Queensland Forks was going to be a great company to work for.

“I joined WinH as part of the pilot program; our first meeting was the launch hosted by Vermeer at Richlands as part of the HRIA meeting.

“Our General Manager at Queensland Forklifts, Mick McGary asked me to join the WinH program not long after I started at Queensland Forklifts. He said it would be a good way for me to get to know the industry.

“My first WinH meeting was in August last year. We met at a local Zarraffas cafe. We talked about the material we were given at the program launch and set some goals for the next 12 months.”
Rose said she has found the program challenging since it has really forced her to step outside of her comfort zone, but at the same time, also engaging and fun.

“Our last session on communication was my favourite so far. It was really cool to have a big group with different opinions and perspectives on a range of topics. We also learnt some skills I have been trying to apply in conversation generally and it is amazing what a few small changes can achieve.

“It was also surprising to hear the men in the group say they were not aware of the way women were feeling in the workplace; for example, being overlooked for professional advice and feeling undervalued.

Another session Rose enjoyed was the one on personal finance, where she said the group gained a lot of really good advice about building wealth.
Plus, the program has also been a good opportunity for the Queensland Forklift business.

“We’ve had some good exposure as a company. I’ve also had a lot of opportunities to meet other people in the industry and build professional networks.

“Having a mentor to be accountable to and checking in with you and your progress is also a good motivator. When you have a project you’re working on, sometimes having the time to reflect on what is working well, what hasn’t worked out so well and where you need to be next is really important.”

Rose said she is finding the mentor/mentee relationship very helpful.

“It’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off; that brings a whole new perspective to things. Sometimes someone who is external to the problem you are trying to resolve can offer insight you otherwise would have missed.

“This (mentor/mentee relationship has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, network with other people in the industry and become involved in a wider community.

“In a sense my relationship with my mentor was like my induction into the hire and rental industry and helped to familiarise me on how the industry works and to develop an awareness of the technology, regulations and norms.

“I would absolutely recommend the Women in Hire program for new starters to the industry, especially if you want to ground them quickly and inspire commitment from the outset.”

Elise Kelsey – Mentor
Elise Kelsey, Managing Director, at Aim Site Hire joined the inaugural Women in Hire mentoring program mid 2018 after being approached by the HRIA to join the mentoring program.

“I had no hesitation in accepting. My father, Ray Kelsey, was in the hire industry for 50 years and was a wonderful guide and mentor to me. This felt like a great opportunity to give back. I’m particularly proud to be passing on my learnings from the unique perspective of one woman in hire to another.

“At the first meeting we were introduced to the program which is structured really well. We were given a booklet outlining our respective roles as mentor and mentee which took us through the stages of the program from establishing a rapport, to goal setting, refining goals and of course how to help your mentee achieve those goals.

“We were also given practical tools to build a framework around how the mentoring sessions should progress.

“I was introduced to my mentee partner Janette Burfoot-Kasap, General Manager at Vermont Hire. Janette and I had been matched because there were some clear parallels in our career. Janette has a finance background and I have an economics/marketing background. We had both worked independently before joining a family owned business and Janette has recently taken on the management of Vermont Hire.”

Elise said the program has been enjoyable so far.
“Aileen Hiskins of Strategic Alignment runs the workshops. She’s a great communicator who involves everyone in the activities and ensures we all have a bit of a laugh along the way. While I’ve not been to every session, and as mentor there is no pressure to do so, I try to get to most. The ones I have attended were as valuable for me as my mentee. It’s always great to get a refresher course in personal or professional development and a great opportunity to network.

“Early in the course mentees underwent a DISC personality profile which was a great way to start things off. After completing a series of questions the DISC program produces a detailed report relating to your own personal style and behaviours. It’s a great tool for increasing self-awareness around what motivates you, what causes stress, how you solve problems and how you respond to other personality styles.

“Everyone was amazed at how accurate the reports were. Mentors also have the opportunity to complete the profile and this can be cross referenced with your Mentee’s profile which is a great idea because you can see how your own communication style might be perceived by your mentee and vice versa. You can also see from the beginning where your mentee might need some encouragement or support.

“I also attended a session hosted by Allison Lake who spoke about personal brand and presence. She covered communication skills, networking and marketing your own brand on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

There were a number of sessions worth attending including:

  • Career Management
  • Your Private Wealth Journey
  • Effective Communication Techniques
  • Networking for Success

“All were worthwhile topics presented by industry professionals recruited by Strategic Alliance.

“As a mentor it is quite rewarding to share your knowledge and skills with someone who can directly benefit from your experience. Janette was a pleasure to mentor as she is driven and clearly focused on effecting change at Vermont Hire and growing the business. In return I receive a sense of satisfaction by seeing someone grow and develop in their role within the hire industry.

“Janette and I were very well matched and we enjoy catching up once a month for a coffee or at our respective offices. I see a lot of similarities between Janette and myself. We are both professional, driven women, we are mothers and we both drove vintage cars in our earlier lives! Janette is at a stage where she is growing Vermont Hire and I’m able to discuss with her and compare some of the obstacles, challenges and best practice processes I have experienced or developed along my own career.

“We discuss a diverse range of topics from occupational health and safety, marketing, technology, finance, and the unique elements of running a family business. Janette has created a business plan and is setting milestones, and it is great to see her achieving as the months go by.

“Our mentor/mentee relationship has been rewarding for me and I hope beneficial for Janette. We established a strong rapport early on and established a level of trust in our communication which is so important in the mentor/mentee relationship. It’s my job to actively listen to the issues my mentee is facing and sometimes the best role I can provide is that of sounding board. At other times it’s the independent advice; a perspective from outside the mentee’s situation, from someone who has been there and done that before.

“In addition I share with my mentee simple tips and templates; we discuss the importance of internal processes, and where to access important resources such as HR and OHS advice when you don’t have a dedicated department to fall back on. We also cover the unique elements of working in a family business.

“From the perspective of the mentor it’s been quite rewarding and it really doesn’t take up a lot of time. I think it’s really important to encourage other women in the hire game. We have a lot to offer and we make up roughly 50% of the population. In the future I hope to see women representing 50% of the management roles in hire. We have a long way to go, but programs like this really help to address the gap.”


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