Mentor Britta Philipsen and her mentee Jana Schütt got along well right from the start and have been working together as a tandem for one year. Using this human resources development tool, the aim is that the experienced mentor passes what she has learned, her knowledge of working life, and her professional experience on to the younger ones. However, the age difference between the two isn’t too big and in conversation they just seem like good friends.
Britta Philipsen is 35 years old and has had an amazing career. The young woman holds a management position at the BLG Logistics Group’s Elsdorf distribution center. “I am in the third management level and have 150 employees,” she says briefly and succinctly. The site manager is an alumna of the Faculty of Business Studies & Economics. In 2011, she graduated from the University of Bremen with a diploma in business administration with a focus on logistics. “My contact with the university continued,” she says.
Commitment to Sustainability
Jana Schütt is on the verge of starting her first job, which is very exciting. The 27-year-old has a master’s degree in marketing and brand management and wrote her master’s thesis on the topic of sustainability. From April, the graduate will be in charge of corporate responsibility at a major food discounter. She is sure that her exchange with Britta Philipsen was very valuable in all the decisions she made last year.
Topics of Conversation
“We discussed my master’s thesis, talked about possible jobs that might be suitable for me, and finally trained for the interview,” says Jana Schütt. They met in person and spoke on the phone as needed. “I’m glad I joined in.” And her mentor adds: “I would have liked the same sort of support in my time.”
What Did Britta Philipsen Convey to Her Mentee?
First of all: “Be authentic, be yourself.” This applies both during the interview and on the job. The most important part when searching for a job is passion. Britta Philipsen expressly advocates this. It’s the only way to find fulfilment in working life. Finally, take into account the well-known saying: “We’re all in the same boat.” When it comes to Jana’s application, she feels like she satisfies seven out of the ten job requirements, but not the remaining three. Her mentor’s response: “Just apply, or you’ll regret it afterwards.” It’s very rare that your own capabilities match the requirement profile exactly. “But the worst thing that can happen is getting a rejection.” So just be brave.
Men Communicate Differently
The mentoring program for women would not be a targeted form of women’s advancement if dealing with men in a team were not also an issue. “Communication behavior among men is different,” says Jana, “but it is completely OK.” When a team sits together, men act according to a hierarchical basic pattern. “They always look at number one, the boss,” says Britta Philipsen. For women, relationship levels are important – they try to look left and right in the circle, establish contacts, and get everyone on board. The amazing mentor is studying psychology on the side through FernUniversität in Hagen. There’s no doubt that the University of Bremen graduate has found a role model in the alumna. The contact will continue.
Extending the Program
The women’s representative council will also continue the program. Celina Spaethe, a research assistant in the faculty and one of the active participants, speaks of a new version. In the first round, six tandems were set up. Most of the mentors were women in management positions. One of them even came from Hong Kong. Now the women are hoping to acquire additional funding to be able to expand the program even further. In addition to the individual conversations, accompanying coaching sessions were offered: Rhetorik-gut argumentieren (rhetoric – presenting your argument well); internationales Management (international management); Frauen im Management (women in management); Digitalisierung (digitization); Industrie 4.0 (industry 4.0); and die Kunst, sich selbst zu präsentieren (the art of presenting yourself), the latter being Jana Schütt’s favorite course.
The next round has already been scheduled: the application deadline for the mentoring program is April 1 and the kick-off event will then take place on April 12, 2019. Women’s advancement in the Faculty of Business Studies & Economics at the University of Bremen shows how lots of small building blocks can be used to strengthen female students in a composed and friendly way.
Women’s representative council member
Faculty of Business Studies & Economics
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-66637