For this year’s event, we focused on life after sport, how to transition through to retirement and handle change with resilience. We started the evening with an insightful and inspiring panel conversation with Tim Stuckey, Senior Manager of Marketing and Integration at Toyota Australia; Chloe Esposito, Olympic gold medal winning pentathlete; Glenn McGrath, international cricket legend; and Emma Vosti, Channel 7 sports journalist.
While every bit of wisdom imparted had the mentees furiously scribbling notes, some of the best lessons included McGrath highlighting the significance of surrounding yourself with the right people, Stuckey explaining the need to stick to your values when aligning with sponsors, Vosti emphasising the power of authenticity when putting themselves forward to the world and Esposito’s advice on overcoming self-doubt.
We honestly could have listened to the panel speak from their experience for hours, but next it was time for our speed mentoring round. Athletes paired up and spent ten minutes with a mentor such as Jacqui Mooney, Editor of Women’s Health magazine; Rochelle Griggs, Pacific Magazines PR Manager; Margot Faraci, Customer Executive at National Australia Bank; Leilani Abels, founder and managing director of Thrive PR, as well as the rest of our panel members.
Each time the bell rang to change mentors, it was hard to pry the athletes away – a testament to the intimate and enlightening discussions taking place.
Carmen Marton, Australia’s first ever world taekwondo champion, says that having mentors has helped get her where she is today.
“I’m a strong believer and advocate for mentoring, I believe we should be learning lessons faster and with less pain so to have mentors come in and be so open and willing to give us those gold nuggets, it comes from such a good place and these wonderful mentors here today understand that we’re going to become better community members and lift the standard of female athletes, their profiles and in leadership positions, it’s incredibly important,” she says.
Her biggest takeaways from the event were about working with sponsors and building up networks.
“Really understanding who you are, what your value proposition is and what you can offer a business, how your values align and how it can be a partnership,” she says. “Starting to focus on what you want to achieve, understanding what your strengths are and what your skill set is, what you have and what you can offer the world.”
AFLW player Lou Stevenson praised the interactive nature of the event and ability to speak to experts outside of sport.
“The best bit of advice for me was about being natural in front of the camera, Emma from Channel 7 made a really good point around the fact that everyone wants to say the perfect thing and get everything right but that’s really boring most of the time,” she says. “People from home want to see your personality and muck up a bit because that’s natural and authentic, so that was a really good point that I’m going to take away from this.”
She adds that it’s not just about meeting role models and mentors but keeping connected with them too.
“When I was younger, I definitely didn’t ask for enough advice and there were definitely people reaching out saying hey if there’s anything you need, give me a call, and I probably never gave them that call and I wish that I did. I think I was a bit too shy or nervous about annoying people.”
Emma Vosti says that being a mentor is an easy and rewarding way to help athletes who have given her so much of their time as a journalist.
“It’s what we’re supposed to do, I think everyone should help other people and if people didn’t help me get to where I am then I wouldn’t be there, so it only feels natural to help other people,” Vosti says. “Often things naturally evolve out of conversation and relationships, that’s how some of the best collaborations happen when people found common ground and interest.”
And to Margot Faraci, mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship.
“I always learn something, I think everyone who is put in front of me has something to teach me,” Faraci says. “It’s rewarding if there’s something I’ve been through that can help them have an easier time I think I’ve got to impart that.”
There’s no doubt that everyone involved in the mentoring event, powered by Toyota, took away plenty of valuable lessons and began building important relationships. We can’t wait to see where it takes our incredible athletes.