From The Straits Times    |

In a world where talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t, mentors can provide guidance and support, cultivate confidence, and share their knowledge to help foster growth in a positive direction. This is why Her World launched its mentorship programme this year. At its core, the inaugural programme connects mentees with influential women who are leaders in their respective fields.

The pairing process started late last year. We shortlisted eight mentors: extraordinary women who have overcome obstacles, and are keen to pay it forward by sharing their knowledge. 

We hear from Lum Jia Yi, assistant director at National Heritage Board,  and Sherryn Tham, HKTW SEA brand manager for Nutella, about their group mentorship experience with Bipasha Minocha, chief marketing officer at Etonhouse.

What was your first impression of one another? 

Bipasha Minocha (BM): We were intentional about being part of this process, and speaking for myself, I truly felt a genuine connection. I was completely blown away by the maturity and the contributions of Jia Yi and Sherryn in our conversations. 

Lum Jia Yi (JY): In the beginning, we were a bit shy, but as we progressed through our three sessions, we found ourselves engaging in genuine and honest conversations. It’s not just about learning skills; it’s about gaining insights and truly supporting one another. The honesty and openness we’ve experienced have made our mentorship journey unique and special.

Jiayi, Bipasha and Sherryn at the launch of the Mentoship Programme in March

What did you learn from one another? 

BM: The sharing that took place during our discussions was remarkable. We opened up about books that inspired us, recommended podcasts, and had meaningful conversations. It was a great learning experience, as I discovered perspectives that I hadn’t previously considered. 

Moreover, for me personally, it was the first time I shared my life experiences with someone, and it felt therapeutic. Sometimes, we tend to forget our own journey, so having the opportunity to share it in a safe environment was incredibly powerful.

Sherryn Tham (ST): In the beginning, I started the process by asking Bipasha more technical questions, such as how to become a C-suite woman and achieve certain goals. However, our conversations naturally evolved towards discussing transferable skills and values. We explored topics like surrounding ourselves with the right network and building confidence. I found that these transferable skills are even more significant and impactful than specific achievements or leadership qualities.

JY: It made me realise that I am the CEO of my own life. Ultimately, I have to take charge, no matter the circumstances. Making that conscious choice and effort to take charge is something I continually remind myself of. I know when I need to set my intentions and put in the effort to achieve long-term objectives.

What specific goals or objectives did you set at the beginning of the mentorship, and were they achieved?

ST: I’m navigating the role of a co-manager for the first time.

Through our conversations with Bipasha, we also realised that it’s important to trust the process, be open to change, and constantly ask ourselves, “What’s the worst that could happen?” This mindset applies to various aspects, including negotiating for better compensation packages, and addressing difficult questions as women. 

JY: I was unsure if I needed a mentor, but now I realise the immense value it brings, not just for myself, but also for empowering other women. I have even shared some readings with my colleagues at work, fostering a sense of mutual support.

“It’s important to trust the process, be open to change, and constantly ask ourselves, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Sherryn Tham

Apart from your interactions together, how has the Her World Mentorship Programme helped you?

BM: [After the first Her World interview], interestingly, my husband received messages from his female team members asking if I’m his wife because of our unique surname, Minocha. So there’s been a little bit of that ‘two seconds of fame,’ so to speak. 

But more importantly, I’ve been able to share about the mentorship programme with various people and emphasise how it’s not just a casual conversation but something that requires effort to connect amazing individuals with mentors. People have shown interest in replicating this program in their own organisations, and it has sparked conversations and connections in different spheres of influence. So, for me, that has been an additional aspect of this program that I found valuable. And, of course, the community and friendships that have formed with the other mentees have been beneficial as well. It has widened our network of accomplished women and allowed us to understand different perspectives, whether it’s related to entrepreneurship, career transitions, or other topics.

JY: It’s about being there for one another, not approaching it with a scarcity mindset like in a workplace where there’s often competition. Instead, we’re all in this together, looking for ways to grow as a team. I’ve noticed this mindset spilling over into my workplace as well, where young colleagues express interest in joining similar programs. It creates a cascading effect. Overall, it has been a very meaningful experience. 

HAIR & MAKEUP Aung Apichai / Artistry, using Shu Uemura & Kevin Murphy; Benedict Choo, using Laura Mercier