Liel is a graduate of our Mentoring Women in Business programme, in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, taking part between November 2018 and November 2019. Here is an overview of her experiences as a mentee, and what sort of impact the programme had on her and her business.
Together with three business partners, Liel, an interior designer from the Philippines, runs a boutique design company. They handle both residential and commercial projects, and are currently expanding into hospitality as well. The company was doing alright, but Liel and her business partners knew that there was a lot of work that needed to be done on their leadership, strategy, operations and planning for growth. As the president of the business, Liel decided to apply to the Mentoring Women in Business Programme to take the company to the next level.
In collaboration with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women matched Liel with Jamie from Canada, an Independent Consultant at Arbonne International, in November 2018. Her experience in senior leadership roles made her a perfect match for Liel.
During their sessions, Liel would tell Jamie what she was working on that week or a specific challenge that she wanted to tackle. Her mentor would share her expertise and sometimes gave Liel assignments. For example, Jamie asked Liel to write down how she assesses her junior staff, and then gave her advice on how she could improve her staff assessment processes.
The main area the pair worked on was the development of a concrete vision for the business. Jamie taught her mentee how important a clear and shared vision is, and that you should always carry it with you. After learning more from her mentor about how to develop this effectively, Liel sat down with her business partners to come up with a five-year strategy. This strategy and vision have given the company’s owners a clear direction on how it will expand over the next few years. The strategy includes steps on how they are planning to increase their revenue, but also on establishing new roles that Liel and her partners hope to add to their team over the next years. It contains marketing, financial planning, sales, operational strategies and targets as well.
The interior design business already started to grow during the year Liel worked with Jamie, as her discussions with her mentor inspired her fellow partners to also adopt a ‘growth mind-set’. Liel says: “My business partners were very receptive to my work with Jamie. I feel confident that together we will be able to achieve the growth that we have planned for the next few years.”
According to Liel, her mentor helped her become a more strategic thinker. Jamie put a lot of emphasis on being a leader versus being a manager, which motivated Liel to think about how she works with the junior designers in her team. As a result, nowadays she doesn’t just think about the growth of the business, but also about everyone else’s personal development and growth.
Jamie had experience in leadership roles in big companies but was able to tailor her advice to suit Liel’s smaller company. According to Liel, “Jamie was such a great mentor. She was always very motivating and inspiring. You can tell that she is a great leader, and I hope I can emulate that.”
Liel also says that being on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme has been very helpful and she is glad she was a part of it: “Having our concrete vision and sense of direction has made me feel more confident about my business and my skills as a business leader.”
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The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.