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Mentoring course proves its worth

The second Phakama Women's Academy launched this week.
A CSI initiative that empowers and equips young women entering the world of marketing, the Academy launch took place at the VWV Group in Kyalami, together with University of Johannesburg (UJ), AAA School of Advertising (AAA) and the Vega School of Brand Leadership (Vega).

Passion for the industry

In its inaugural year, last year, the Academy took in 26 candidates. This year that number increased to 32 candidates. Koo Govender, CEO of VWV and the founder of the initiative, says they were thrilled at the increase. "We are meant to only take a maximum of 30 candidates, but this year the candidates were so strong, we felt we would be disadvantaging anyone of them by not including them."

Mentoring course proves its worth
The candidates were not only very strong academically, but also in personality and passion. "All the candidates showed such passion for the industry and their careers as well as in playing the Academy forward to other women," says Govender.

As a result of the increase number of candidates, the number of mentors were also increased. Govender says one of the most important lessons they learnt from the first year was just how pivotal the mentoring process is to the candidates. "Last year's candidates all requested an additional month of mentoring when the mentoring period was completed. As such this year we have extended the mentoring till the end of the year and many mentors have also agreed to continue acting as mentors for these young women."

A mentor from last year that is continuing to be a mentor this year is Rencia Droganis, CEO & Founder of Africology, a natural, eco-friendly and holistic spa and skincare company. She says being a mentor was wonderful. "Working with a young mind and seeing how that mind matures is very rewarding."

She explains that the mentoring is very practical - ranging from keeping appointments, being on time, and follow up emails. "These seem so simple, but they are real world rules that no-one is taught. You learn them through real experiences. The Academy provides this real time experience, but with a mentor holding your hand."

She believes it is this real time experience that means the Academy course so valuable. "It's not a textbook or case study you are learning, it is real life and you are participating."

Guiding the candidates

She adds that the mentors are also there for the meaningful moments, feelings, and emotions. "This allows mentors to guide. The candidates learn to set their own boundaries and also to push themselves. We are here to guide them in this process."

This year she would like to have more time to work on in-situational coaching. "It is important to do the needs analyses, but then also to apply the process and re-visiting these over time and reassess if and as needed the candidate's journey.

All in all she is looking forward to this year. "It is hard work, but it is worth it."

Another learning from last year that has been incorporated into this year is the presenting of two of the eight modules over one session, instead of just one module.

The Academy assists young women entering the marketing and media sectors with work readiness. All last year's candidates have successfully found positions in these sectors. Candidates are selected from UJ, Vega and AAA and are studying marketing and public relations courses.

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach is a marketing & media editor at Previously she freelanced in the marketing and media sector, including for Bizcommunity. She was editor and publisher of AdVantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B. She has a Masters in Financial Journalism from Wits.

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