Pictured L to R Mentor Alison McNulty, CEO TinyLife, Paula Bradley MLA, Paula Quigley, CEO Groundwork NI and Mentee Glena McDowell.

A NEW mentoring programme aimed at connecting today’s female business leaders with tomorrow’s future leaders has been launched.

The initiative, set up by leading not-for-profit organisation Groundwork NI, will see leading female leaders from across business, politics, academia, community and voluntary and policing act as mentors for forty women who aspire one day, to follow their example.

The launch of Tomorrow’s Leaders Programme took place in Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Monday evening, sponsored by North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley and MC’ d by TV presenter Pamela Ballantine.

Forty mentors from across a wide range of sectors, handpicked for their diversity and experience met their mentees for the first time on Monday evening.

During the launch, both mentors and mentees heard from a range of speakers who shared their experiences of how mentoring has shaped their professional development.

Over the coming months, the mentors will meet their mentees through varied events and planned sessions.

They will share experiences, skills and advice aimed at helping them to develop their leadership skills, confidence, and understanding of the role they can play in society.

The mentors taking part come from a wide range of sectors throughout Northern Ireland, including senior figures in Deloitte, FSB, Big Lottery Fund, Ulster University and Business in the Community.

As part of the Programme, all forty mentees will also become fully paid members of Women in Business for a year.

Here, mentees will avail of further expertise, guidance and an array of member events that will further guide them in their journey.

Groundwork NI Chief Executive Paula Quigley hopes this will be a catalyst for many of the women taking part to take control of their futures.

Ms Quigley said: “The crux of this programme is to connect grassroots women with female leaders currently doing great things in their respective fields.

“When engaging with our mentees we learned that they had obtained a variety of qualifications, and certificates but there was a real gap in the marketplace for practical training and advice.

“For a variety of reasons, personal, financial, available opportunities women were not getting the practical guidance to allow them to get to the next stage in business.

“We hope this mentorship programme will bridge this gap”.

Prior to the mentees meeting their mentors at the launch event, the mentees were given some time to meet as group, get to know each other and share their expectations and hopes for the programme.

During this period, they also had the opportunity to visit the US Embassy in Belfast, where they met with US Consulate General Daniel Lawton.

They will also visit the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann in the New Year.

Paula Quigley explains the purpose of these visits:

“This building, Parliament Buildings, along with the US Embassy and Irish Parliament are venues that we see every day and take for granted.

“They seem out of reach to most of us.

“The visits are a way of breaking down these perceived barriers to so-called out of reach institutions. These buildings are accessible to us all and it is important we know that”.

The programme is funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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