We’re thrilled to announce the exciting news that one of our senior Incubatees has recently become an auntie. But we’re not talking about the biological kind… we mean the feminist kind! The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, after all.

Already an endless source of information and guidance around the office, our resident Head of Strategy, Alison Rentoul, has joined great new ad industry initiative: The Aunties. On achieving her official status, our Auntie Al has now been paired up with an industry mentee from another agency, because – let’s face it – Al’s hard-earned wisdom is too good to be shared only within our office.

Launched by the Melbourne Advertising and Design Club, The Aunties is a program designed to inspire and connect women of all ages across Melbourne’s creative industries, through mentorships, seminars and networking opportunities. Named after legendary advertising mentor Esther Clerehan, who often referred to herself as an “Auntie” to countless women she’s mentored over the years, the Aunties’ focus is on pairing successful experienced women in Advertising with younger counterparts, for one-on-one mentorships.

Founder Phoebe Sloane, copywriter and Director of Empowerment & Inclusion at the Melbourne Advertising and Design Club explains, “We want to give young women starting out in our industry as much support as possible right now. Due to Covid, they’ve missed valuable opportunities to build networks and they’re vulnerable in many ways. We hope by giving them an Auntie, they’ll have an objective person they can confide in and establish a deeper connection with.”

Although applications for the first mentorship round are now closed, until the next round opens, perhaps consider taking the initiative of finding a mentor of your own – either in your office, or another. In this male dominated industry, young women can benefit greatly from hearing the stories of other women who’ve travelled this road before them, paving the way for a new generation to learn from their experiences. There’s a reason feminism comes in waves.

We can indeed confirm the benefit, as our Junior Designer Sophie is also in the Aunties program, as a mentee… or a niece, if you will. Meeting up with Mavens’ Leah Morris monthly has helped Sophie focus ideas for the future, figuring out the path she wants to take and the steps needed to get there. (Honestly, Sophie is yet to define her role in this program to anyone in the office without getting dangerously close to describing the plot of The Karate Kid.)

With interests in both design and writing, Sophie didn’t know if there was any career that could combine the two passions. So Leah has organised a meeting from someone with a similar career journey, to see what kind of path she might want to take in the future. Within the first get-together, they had discussed everything from imposter syndrome to salaries and sexism.

Our newly appointed Junior Account Executive Chrissie also came to us already enrolled in the Aunties, forming the perfect Venn diagram of ‘women in our office’ and ‘women who are in a mentor program’. Jessica Graham of Thinkerbell is helping Chrissie build her industry network, offering guidance on reaching her full potential and advising on how to address new situations. As a fresh graduate, this program has been invaluable in giving Chrissie real-world knowledge of the job – and it certainly helped her stand out from the crowd of applicants when we were hiring recently!

While not every woman will follow the same career journey, there are specific challenges we as women in creative industries all face together; and, let’s face it, we all need someone in our corner. Mentors can guide young women through the challenges they will face at the start of their career, using their experiences to make more informed decisions during the transition from student to professional. Mentorship gives young girls a role model, someone they can look up to and a strong supporter who believes in them. Mentors can improve your leadership skills, help you gain fresh perspectives, and in turn help you help your younger sisters (and nieces!) as you make your own way up the career ladder.

Find out more about, and follow the Aunties on Instagram.

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