Alumnus Cathy Fenton joined the RMIT mentoring program to impart some experience from her career in HR to a student – and learned some unexpected lessons of her own along the way.
“Every year I do something that I’ve never done before and I go somewhere I’ve never been before. So last year I decided to become an RMIT mentor.
It was a natural progression for me to get involved in RMIT. I was always going to do it, I was always going to give back because I’m so passionate about this place.
I’ve led a life where I’m very goaloriented. My Mum was a strong role model and was set on the idea of “earn or learn” – get a job or go and learn – or both! We’ve also said that to our own children.
My degree I did at RMIT was the foundation and springboard for my career. I got my first job at Rio Tinto – and eventually moved into what they then called “personnel” – of course now known as HR.
Throughout my career I have had many mentors, mostly other women. My first mentor, I met as a graduate at Rio Tinto and is still mentoring me today!
The biggest lesson from my career is about remaining authentic and staying true to your values. Luck is when opportunity meets preparation, so being goal directed and being prepared creates the luck. Being courageous, taking calculated risks and believing in yourself are key success factors.
I was matched with my mentee through the mentoring portal. She was doing final year Applied Science in Psychology, and really keen to get into HR. I learned just as much from the mentoring experience as she did. I learned a lot about the millennial generation – even though I have two children of my own – they live with me, I’m their Mum, it’s different!
I think the millennial generation are driven differently. Technology is an enabler – they have access to information more readily, which allows them to have more information to make more discerning decisions. They aren’t judged for moving jobs, it’s about building skills and knowledge and being agile and adaptive in a global world. I’ve always been someone to embrace change, and I have found education and mentoring transformative and empowering.
I also decided to give back by donating to scholarships. I wanted to help someone who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to access education and to achieve their dreams.
I believe in the importance of giving back – and I’m so thankful for my experiences at RMIT, it was natural that I would find a way to offer my support back to the University.”