Back yourself and go for  it.

Rachel Farrant talks about her experiences on the Mentoring for Diversity programme.

Rachel Farrant
JOHN NICHOLSON/Fairfax

With several not-for-profit directorships under her belt and looking to further her governance career, Rachel Farrant joined the Mentoring for Diversity programme in 2013.

“For me, it was an excellent programme. The two directorships I got last year were during that process. While they weren’t a direct consequence of working with my mentor, I was able to show a commitment to learning about governance.”

The only woman on the Fulton Hogan board and the sole female partner at BDO in Wellington, Rachel is now also a director of Kordia and a trustee of Wellington Museums Trust Inc.

She says that mentees get as much out of the programme as they put in, but that it’s also about ‘clicking’ with your mentor - which she did.

Rachel was paired with senior director John Spencer, currently chair of KiwiRail.  She and John established a structured mentoring relationship, setting a programme of what they were going to discuss at the beginning of the year and meeting every six weeks for an hour and a half. They reviewed her governance CV, discussed interviewing processes, and - given her background in accounting - looked at the ins and outs of audit committees.

“We also talked a lot about his experiences, how he’d worked through issues, and where else I could go to get resources. Certainly, I got some really good, clear principles of things you should and shouldn’t do on boards. And heard a lot of good war sort of stories - that was probably the best thing.”

Her advice for those considering Mentoring for Diversity?

“Get out and give it a go. It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, it’s too hard to apply’ or ‘I’m not going to get in’, but don’t put yourself off. Back yourself and go for it.”