International Women’s Day: The Importance of Mentorship In ‘Inspiring Inclusion’

Digitization and Transformation


Steph Lucey

Mar 7, 2024

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration (March 8) is “Inspire Inclusion.” As the organization encourages us to imagine, we can create “a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.” At Bottomline that mission is taken seriously with women in many senior leadership and C-level roles. I’m proud to say as Chief Human Resources Officer that I’m one of them. With that in mind we focused on mentorship. How can women help other women achieve the goals of International Women’s Day? We asked ten women from across the globe and across the organization for their thoughts and experiences in regard to mentorship. Their responses are included here.

Jessica Cheney, VP of Product Management and Strategic Solutions, US

Early in my career, there were two women who took the time to mentor me in very different ways, each with their own style and approach. The first was a woman who had no college experience, but she had worked in the bank for a very long time. The second, our CMO at the time, was very educated in the industry so I had the advantage of seeing both sides of the coin. Both women made sure that I felt empowered, and always looked for ways to give me the next opportunity, keeping me intellectually curious. In terms of mentoring others, it’s all about ownership to me—owning one’s decision, their goals and their work. I was a Bottomline mentor for a woman who began as a college hire and has now worked for me for six years. She told me she had an interest in project management. In fact, she ran our PCI compliance process. She didn’t know much about PCI, but she found she had a passion for learning about it, so we paid for her to take the professional project management course. I gave her constructive criticism and pushed her to do the work. But she always owned the next step. Very important. 

Anushka Katara, Senior Finance Associate, India 

We envision a world where women not only climb mountains but build them. Mentorship is a bright flame that is at the centre of this journey. Mentorship isn't just about advice; it's about kindling a spark. It's experienced women sharing their wisdom, shattering glass ceilings with their stories, and whispering, "You belong here, you can achieve anything.". This empowers women to embrace their unique brilliance, navigate challenges with confidence, and rewrite narratives of limitation. Mentorship impacts not only mentors and mentees but also society, by incorporating a diversity of thoughts, economic prosperity, and social progress. Mentorship isn't just a feel-good gesture, but it helps create a more productive work environment. Investing in mentorship is not just the right thing to do; it's a smart strategy for building a better future for all.

Mentorship isn't about flashy actions. A listening ear, a timely piece of advice, or simply connecting a woman with the right opportunity can make a world of difference. Let's not only celebrate mentorship during this IWD #InspireInclusion campaign, but let's also become mentors, champions, and cheerleaders. Together, we can build a strong network of support that fuels a future where women not only have a seat at the table but also shape the world's fabric. Let's inspire inclusion one spark at a time.

Sharon Long, Senior Client Care Manager, Singapore

Mentorship plays a crucial role in personal and professional development. Mentors provide guidance, support, and wisdom gained from their own experiences, helping mentees navigate challenges, set goals, and grow both professionally and personally. I am fortunate throughout my career to have had good managers sharing their guidance on navigating challenges and advocating advancement opportunities within the organization. They are Thomas Lee and Eli Shoshani in my current career with Bottomline. They were not only experts in our field but also compassionate and firm believers in being positive in life. They taught me the importance of taking a helicopter view of situations, and building strong relationships and networks within my industry. They stressed the significance of collaboration and mentorship in advancing one's career and encouraged me to seek out opportunities to mentor others as well. Overall, their guidance and mentorship played a crucial role in shaping my career trajectory. They instilled in me a sense of confidence, resilience, and a commitment to lifelong learning that continues to serve me well to this day. I am truly grateful for their mentorship and the impact they have had on my professional journey.

Semra Dedinja, User Experience Designer, Kosovo

Mentorship, especially under the guidance of a woman like one of my managers in User Experience (UX) design, holds great importance. It serves as a beacon of guidance and support, and it offers invaluable insights and wisdom. Women mentors in UX bring unique perspectives, inspire confidence, and break down barriers. In addition to fostering skill development and providing a supportive network crucial for professional growth, their mentorship also empowers mentees to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities for growth. Ultimately, I believe that mentorship bridges the gap between theory and practice, fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation, and nurtures the next generation of leaders.

Amruta Gadewar, Manager of Quality Assurance, India 

I started my career in Bottomline as Quality Assurance Engineer. My first mentor, Mark Kane, helped me to understand the system and responsibilities a QA engineer holds. It helped me to challenge myself to do my best. He pushed me to think outside the box and provided all the platforms to achieve great heights.

A second mentor, Igal Shenkelman, came into my life when I was evolving myself as a lead and as a manager. He is one who I always look up to. He taught me how to keep myself calm when dealing with problems and react appropriately. When I have a problem I always think what he would do if he were in my situation. He always said to treat people the way you would like to be treated. He keeps pushing me to do more and when feeling comfortable in one position he challenges me to take my effort to another level. 

Rashmi Achan, Head of Maps, Singapore

In a world where barriers persist, mentors serve as catalysts for growth and beacons of guidance. They offer invaluable insights, wisdom, support, and encouragement, helping navigate challenges to capitalise on opportunities. To my fellow women, seek out mentors who inspire you, nurture your talents, uplift you, challenge you, and believe in your potential. Through effective mentorship, we can cultivate inclusive environments where every woman thrives. Let us stand for each other and forge paths of success, fostering a community where women share knowledge, support, and empower one another.

Rosalind Eidelheit, Director of User Experience Training and Documentation, Israel

Over the years, as I accompanied development teams transitioning to Agile, people have come to me for advice. Sometimes it pertained strictly to professional matters, focusing on the process itself, and sometimes this was about personal situations and dilemmas. I tried to help as best as I could however, it wasn’t until we had a company activity for International Women’s Day, that I understood the extent of my impact. As part of the activity, participants were asked to reflect on someone who had had an influence on them – talk about someone who has had a meaningful impact on you. To my surprise, one of the women turned round to me and said “You, you have made a significant impact on me.” Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we can help others, by listening to them, empathizing, connecting to their needs and just being there for them.

Rebecca Corke, SVP Head of Customer Success, UK

Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to learn from a diverse array of mentors, each with their own unique expertise and backgrounds. The most impactful mentorship moments have been characterized by mutual trust and respect, where honest and open conversations thrive. I've found that the best mentors are listeners and challengers, guiding me to find solutions on my own and build confidence in my abilities. I'm a strong advocate for reverse mentoring, where less experienced employees mentor their more seasoned counterparts. This approach has led to surprising insights and "aha" moments, as individuals with different skill sets challenge each other's thinking. I’d encourage anyone to be open minded about this approach. 

Albione Bajrami, Quality Engineer, Kosovo

For me mentorship isn't a professional transaction, it's a deep connection that transcends boundaries and empowers us women to reach our full potential. Through the guidance and support of mentors, myself and other women have been able to defy barriers and social norms that have  helped us carve our path to success. And in a world where gender biases exist still to this day, having a mentor who believes in our abilities makes the biggest difference.

As we reflect on the progress we've made and the challenges that still lie ahead, let's recommit ourselves to championing mentorship as a tool for gender equality and women's empowerment. Together, let's build a world where every woman can thrive, and no dream is out of reach. Let's honour those who have dedicated their time, wisdom, and compassion to uplift this generation of female leaders, innovators, and change-makers. Starting from my mom and continuing to every amazing woman I got to meet throughout my life journey: You are all mentors who inspire greatness and help awaken the giants within each other. 

Julia Saccone, Senior Events Manager, US

I’m currently a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of NH and have been one for over four years. It has been very rewarding.  I think that there are so many people in the world who look for guidance and might not know the opportunities it can bring to have a mentor. I think it's important to see what other people go through. I enjoy the challenge of putting myself in other people's shoes and empathizing with their experience. And in this process, as a mentor, I have found providing many options when someone has a challenge in their life or when they have a question is so important. I don't like to say ‘oh, this is what you should do.’ I like to be able to say ‘you know what? This this is a great problem to have because you have all of the following choices and you will be OK.’ There are many people who look for solutions or direction whether it’s about life, school or careers. I want to be one of the people who provide that for them. 

Related topics

international women's day

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Steph Lucey

Steph Lucey is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Bottomline, leading business partnerships, talent recruiting, total rewards and HR services. She guides the Bottomline culture which is driven to deliver high levels of employee engagement, connection, and accountability and one that fosters and grows talent across the organization.

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