International travel restrictions and border closures haven’t stopped ABV doing what it does best. On the contrary, the BSP Financial Group Limited (BSP, formerly Bank of South Pacific Limited) and ABV Mentoring Program has remained active in Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and the Cook Islands since the program was initiated in August 2019.
The BSP’s program was designed to provide best practice mentoring by experienced and culturally aware mentors, with a particular focus on offshore leaders in the BSP’s Leadership and Management Development Program (LMDP).
ABV mobilised its extensive registry of skilled business professional as mentors to support the leadership of capability development of banking professionals in the Pacific region. The approach to mentoring integrates international development theory and good practice mentoring according to the International Standards of Mentoring and Coaching Programmes (ISMCP).
Ideally the BSP program would include sending SBPs to the designated country for two face-to-face sessions, followed up with remote sessions held at least monthly and delivered virtually. While travel restrictions have put a stop to in person sessions, virtual mentoring has continued to reap benefits for all concerned.
The initial cohort of seven BSP leaders were matched in August 2019 and an additional three mentor-mentee relationships were established in April 2020. Throughout the important matching process, the mentees have driven much of the decision making around their participation. This included selecting a mentor from a range of potential profiles to ensure alignment of skills and experience required to meet the goals set by the mentee, through to establishing regularity and content of mentoring sessions.
Mentee development objectives varied across the ten participants based on individual needs and levels of leadership experience.
Based on BSP management’s decision to extend their Leadership and Management Development Program to four years for those currently participating in the program, and ABV’s achievement of tangible outcomes for mentees in 2019/20, it was agreed in October 2020 to continue mentoring throughout 2021.
The broad development themes included management and leadership skills and competencies, project management skills, organisational and personal efficiency, business effectiveness, strategic and innovative thinking, networking and increased confidence in communication, public speaking, team and customer engagement.
Allowing for an unmet desire to connect in person, overwhelmingly positive feedback from BSP staff is testimony to the success of the program to date.
The program really motivates and encourages me to become more successful in the future as a leader. It not only applies to the workplace, but it covers every aspect of life.
This mentoring program has been a very good tool. My mentor is clearly a compassionate and professional person who is insightful and respectful and has taken care to focus on my needs and development and being flexible to my timing and requests. To me, this is important and speaks volumes on the quality of the mentors that ABV has provided. My mentor is … someone I feel strongly that I can trust.
I enjoy the way the program is currently run, and patiently await such a time as I might be able to meet my mentor in person so she is able to see in action some of the suggestions we have brainstormed now in action, and get a holistic look at my workplace and work environment which might offer more insights into changes if any I can make to improve on my efficiency and outputs to make a positive impact.
ABV skilled business professional Evelyn Moolenburgh is mentor to two of BSP’s women leaders in Solomon Islands and Tonga, Joyce and Anaise. While Eveyln was able to meet Joyce in person, her relationship with Anaise has been built over Zoom. The two modes of delivery come with their own challenges and benefits.
‘I spent a week with Joyce in 2019 getting to know her lifestyle, her island and her work life and colleagues,’ Evelyn explained. ‘Not having met Anaise in person, it has taken longer and more deliberate effort to understand her world and context over Zoom. You can’t just see a picture of her life and ask a question for clarity.’
Fortunately, the shared commitments of mentor and mentees have overcome the tyranny of distance and resulted in positive outcomes for all.
‘I love working with the women in the pacific islands; you can inspire and show them that women can achieve anything,’ says Evelyn. ‘One of my mentees has gone from, in her words, ‘being quiet’ to a confident Financial Manager who is ready to step up, and only in 12 months’.
‘It is very exciting when they jump on zoom or a call and can’t wait to tell you about an achievement or a project that was successful. It is rewarding to share that excitement. I hope they would say that the program has inspired them to achieve their goals and that they have developed a friend from Sydney’.