Women supporting women in climate: Q&A between mentor and mentee

Kate Wilson Butler, SBC’s Head of Climate Action, was selected as a mentor for the 2022 Auckland Women4Climate Mentorship Programme, which matches committed leaders from the business sector, international organisations, and community organisations with emerging women leaders. The mentors share their knowledge and experiences, supporting the mentees in becoming powerful leaders in their chosen field including politics, NGOs, business, media, and community groups.

We caught up recently with Kate and her mentee, Ruth White (General Manager of Business East Tamaki), to ask them a few questions about the value they’ve found in mentoring and being mentored around climate.

Q. Ruth, how did you find the Women4Climate mentorship programme and why did you want to apply?

A. Business East Tamaki has a vision to be recognised as the most environmentally sustainable business district with a target to lead positive change. As I am far from a climate change expert, I had been on the look-out for a suitable leadership programme and/or guidance from a subject area specialist to help me in structuring an achievable and suitably realistic plan for our business community.

Q. Kate, how did you find the Women4Climate mentorship programme and why did you want to become a mentor?

A. Auckland Council is a member of the Sustainable Business Council so that connection led to me engaging with the W4C programme. I was excited to get involved, as I feel strongly that you don’t need to be a climate expert to take or catalyse action – Project Drawdown has a great line that, every job is a climate job. So I was excited to support other women to see their own potential through that lens.

Q. Ruth, what has been your top takeaway from the programme?

A. Kate asked me at our very first meeting what my definition of success would be for this project. This simple question has helped me to guide our priorities and actions as well as answering related questions such as:

  • What are the big issues in our business community? (72% of Business East Tamaki’s annual member survey respondents selected the need for waste solutions as their top sustainability issue)
  • How can we support businesses to combat this issue?
  • Are we adding value?

Q. Kate, how have you found the experience of being a mentor, and what would be your top takeaway?

A. Honestly, I don’t know who was mentoring whom at points during this process! It has been a real privilege to get to know Ruth and share her journey to realising Business East Tamaki’s climate and sustainability vision. I’ve learned a huge amount and my top takeaway would be the power of connection. There are so many talented and passionate wāhine working to make the world a better place – when we connect and work together, the potential for that network to affect transformative change is inspiring.

Q. Ruth, what’s next for you on your climate leadership journey and how do you think participating in this programme will add value to that journey?

A. It would be crazy to underestimate the value of the network I have established because of my participation in the Women4Climate programme. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn and work with my mentor Kate, and to have grown connections with other Women4Climate participants. It goes without saying that there are a lot of amazing and clever people working to make positive change and I have no doubt that the relationships formed will be invaluable as a sounding board for the future.

17 Nov, 2022

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