Industry mentoring

In our industry mentoring stream, we pair a highly motivated PhD student with an industry leader with similar interests to meet up at regular intervals for a period of twelve months,  for around two hours per month.

We offer industry mentoring programs to PhD students in our two Colleges – College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, and College of Science, Health and Engineering. Our mentors come from a wide range of industry sectors and backgrounds, including private sector, government and not-for-profit, from Australia and overseas. Mentoring programs in the STEM sector (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are offered through collaboration with IMNIS – Industry Mentoring Network in STEM.

Industry mentoring aims to enhance the mentee’s industry knowledge, professional skills and career readiness, and to provide industry mentors with the opportunity to share their expertise and experience, and shape future leaders.

Mentoring is a voluntary activity, and mentors act in their personal capacity.

Being a mentor can be a very rewarding experience. As an industry leader with extensive professional experience, you will play an important role in shaping a new generation of industry-skilled PhD graduates and supporting future industry leaders. You will also help bring academia and industry closer together, making industry-relevant research more accessible to industry.

Why you should consider being a mentor

  • Be a role model for a successful industry-based career
  • Share leading-edge information on your industry and its operations
  • Be a catalyst between your mentee and your other industry contacts
  • Reflect and share your insights into your professional path and your career choices
  • Get a new perspective on your leadership style and skills
  • Expand your network and become aware of the talent in the University
  • Become a highly respected member of the La Trobe University community.

How to get involved

Whether you come from the private sector, government or not-for-profit organisation, and are interested in mentoring a La Trobe PhD student, please get in touch with us by completing the Expression of Interest form below.

Express your interest in the mentoring program

Contact us

Taina Jara
Senior Project Coordinator
T: 03 9479 2265

Testimonials from industry mentors

Margaret Birtley, museum professional

Photo: Margaret Birtley - visiting the G F Watts Museum at Compton (near Guildford, England) in January 2017.

"Margaret Birtley AM is a museum professional whose career has included not only work in museums but also with heritage, advocacy and sporting organisations, universities, professional associations, and on government and community advisory boards. Many of her roles are (or have been) in a voluntary capacity. She is now an independent consultant and the part-time Executive Officer for the History Council of Victoria.

I have been privileged to mentor many people, formally and informally, in the museum sector, and have always found the experience to be personally and professionally enriching. When invited by La Trobe University to assist with its new program for mentoring in the humanities, I was keen to become involved. One reason for this was that I was impressed by the guidelines, systems and structures that La Trobe has put in place to support its mentors and mentees. Another reason is based on my awareness that many PhD students in the humanities work in relative isolation, often on topics that are rather remote from the current environment; such students can really benefit from the contacts and experience of a non-academic professional in their field.

Since the beginning of 2017, Margaret has been mentoring La Trobe PhD students in History, with each mentoring period encompassing 11 months. The main channels of communication between her and her mentees include extended face-to-face conversations, short chats during conferences, messages on the online mentoring platform Mentorloop, emails and text messages. They also connect via LinkedIn and Twitter, which enables them to stay in contact after the ending of the mentoring program.

Both Margaret and her mentees have benefitted from the mentoring relationship.

In 2017, I think that our main achievements were the building of confidence and mutual understanding; the delight in realising that we had many interests and experiences in common; the deliberate choice of a different venue for each meeting (including re-purposed heritage buildings, museums and galleries); and, of course, the sharing of relevant professional information and insights

My mentee in 2017 expanded my awareness of her field of research and gave me fresh insights into the opportunities and challenges that face people entering the workforce now. Along the way, my mentee and I have shared laughs, coffee, and insights into current exhibitions. Above all, the relationship has broadened my view of my own profession and has given me new perspectives on the issues it faces.

Margaret has never been mentored herself formally via a structured and coordinated approach like the one offered by La Trobe, but she has been guided at various times by many generous friends and colleagues. Their insights have always given her food for thought when making big decisions about my career.

“I think that being a mentor is something that every senior professional should consider if approached. It’s not only a way to contribute to the profession, and to assist the next generation of practitioners, but it’s also a role that encourages reflection on one’s own knowledge of, and assumptions about, the ‘world of work’. There’s a productive challenge in confronting one’s own experience: the mentor’s self-awareness can grow in proportion to the mentee’s awareness of the world outside their thesis-focussed research. It’s also very stimulating to translate professional knowledge and expertise into communications that are meaningful and relevant for someone entering the current work environment.”

Louise Lovell, sustainability professional

"Currently working in environmental sustainability at Moreland City Council, Louise is a sustainability professional with more than a decade of industry experience crossing over the local government, manufacturing and heavy industry. Focused on building capacity in sustainability, Louise engages with staff, community and partners on sustainability issues to produce solutions and create a culture of continual improvement towards an environmentally sustainable future.

Louise has experience in Environmental Management Systems, Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process, sustainability integration through green procurement and capital works and transdisciplinary solutions to urban heat in a warming climate. Louise is currently studying a Masters in Environmental and Business Management at the University of Newcastle and has a Graduate Diploma in Commerce and Environment from Otago University as well as an undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from RMIT.

“I joined the La Trobe PhD industry mentoring program because I saw mentoring as an opportunity to develop connections with La Trobe University, to share my knowledge, and gain experience being a mentor. In 2017, I have been mentoring a PhD student from La Trobe Business School who conducts research on green marketing. We have regular contact with each other both in person and online. Through mentoring, my mentee has managed to develop some significant industry contacts in Melbourne and learn about the world of work outside the university sector. For me, the most rewarding aspect of mentoring has been to connect with my industry more broadly and learn about La Trobe University.

I have benefitted from being mentored myself, and have recently had a mentor helping me focus on myself and where I want to go with my career. I would highly recommend becoming an industry mentor to my colleagues. Being a mentor is a great opportunity to develop connections both inside the university sector and in industry, and learn more about current research in your industry.”

Nalika Peiris, Unit Manager Community Development and Social Policy

“I chose to be a part of the La Trobe PhD industry mentoring program because I was keen to share my experiences in working in local government and the opportunities and learning that the sector can provide. In 2017, I was matched with a La Trobe PhD candidate from Creative Arts and with a professional background as a psychologist and supervisor.

Our main aim as a part of this program was to identify the various avenues that my mentee could take her career in, drawing on all her strengths, expertise, and her choice in how she wanted to enter the workforce again.

Our journey together started in a very structured way, with goals and agreements and timelines. Through our 6 weekly meetings we agreed on what was really important and in laying the foundations for the future endeavours. This included some contacts been made with other professionals that could assist, but most of the mentoring time was spent examining dynamics in workplaces that held people back and returning to the authentic self.

By exploring the various challenges, my mentee was able to articulate them and we worked on how they could be overcome in a way that suited her.

This equipped her well to do conference presentations, conduct workshops, present an exhibition, and create a book based on the work and really tap into what she was really good at to tell her story.

Our journey brought together the personal and professional in us, and we made a conscious decision to adapt what we set out to do to suit the needs of the mentee and meet the objectives of the program.

I enjoyed being a part of the program and I am very grateful for being matched up with an individual where we were able to connect on several levels. It is important that once you commit to the relationship with a mentee that you are able to provide the time and support. It is when that happens that both the mentor and the mentee can fully capitalise on the experience.”

Jeremy Smith, Principal Archaeologist

“Given my professional background as one of Heritage Victoria's archaeologists, I was initially surprised to be paired with a history PhD candidate as part of the mentoring program. However, the match with a student from a different – but related – field ended up contributing to a very enjoyable, stimulating and rewarding association. I feel that both my mentee and I learnt a great deal through the mentoring process.

In many ways, our meetings were as between two equals – I was never aware of needing to impart knowledge or career advice.  Our discussions were wide ranging and casual, and we were just as likely to discuss our observations on life in government or in academia, as we were to focus on the challenges of meeting deadlines or completing complex research pieces.

We also endeavoured to set some structure for our meetings and would agree on a broad topic for discussions before each meeting, which worked well for us.

I strongly endorse, and recommend, the La Trobe PhD Industry Mentoring program to other industry professionals. As a mentor, I enjoyed the opportunity to look back and reflect on my own career experiences, and engage again with a substantial research project from an industry mentor’s perspective.

I hope my mentee benefited from a small window into the life of a senior manager in a government heritage agency, and learnt about managing different work priorities, constraints and opportunities in the government system, the value of team-building, and perhaps a few other insights, that will bring her forward in her career.”