"It was really clear that there was, in fact, a difference between how women and men approach their careers," recalls Kate Boorer.
"At the time, I was also doing a lot of coaching with young female professionals. What was coming up strongly in those conversations was a desire and need to build their network inside and outside of their organisation in a proactive and practical way."
Kate is the Founder of Young Professional Women Australia (YPWA), a peer-to-peer networking community for women under the age of 40.
YPWA has a range of initiatives including the Leadership Development & Mentoring Program, which allows women to engage in coaching and mentoring, and improve upon their leadership capabilities and relationship building skills.
"The focus of that particular program is helping women to get clear about what's important to them in their careers and life, set some ambitious goals and be supported to achieve those goals," Kate says.
Kate's advice for women striving to climb the leadership ladder is paramount.
"Being proactive in identifying opportunities and building a strong support framework, at a peer cohort and a mentor/sponsor level both within and external to your organisation, can really support you in achieving your career and life goals," she says.
Kate suggests one of the best ways for professionals to stay in touch with each other is to have a quick catch up every three months over coffee or breakfast.
"Sometimes lunch can get challenging because of schedules and deadlines. After work can also get challenging because of personal and family commitments, so breakfast can be a really good time to be able to fit these things into our schedule in a way that perhaps suits various demographics," she says.
It can even be as simple as having someone answer questions or provide advice to help you develop your skillset and industry knowledge, and the process benefits both mentors and mentees2.
"You'll be surprised at how willing people are to offer help when you ask for it," Kate says.
Although YPWA focuses their support efforts on women, Kate is strong in her stance that women are not the only ones who require these support systems in their professional lives.
"I think it's men and women supporting men and women," Kate says.
"The reason why my focus is on women is, if we can empower women who are the emerging executive of the future in that late-twenties to early-thirties base, not only do we support them to have the courage to challenge the status quo, but also become great role models for up-and-coming females and males to do things differently."
On March 9th, YPWA held a conference for International Women's Day with a range of guest speakers and panellists including Journalist and Author Catherine Fox, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency's Libby Lyons and BHP's Head of Integrated Operations Michelle Elvy.
On the theme of 'Press for Progress', the conference focused on the invisible barriers to career progression, advancing women in leadership as well as current workforce trends, and included a panel on 'The Future of Flexible Working'.
If you missed out, click here to watch a recording of the event.