Mentoring Success: Female Leaders In The Defence Industry

By on 14 April 2021

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Strong mentor-mentee relationships can have transformative impacts on careers, workplaces and industries as a whole.


It’s for this reason that Kinexus founded The Future Through Collaboration (TFTC) mentoring program, alongside a group of pioneering Defence organisations - with a mission to address gender diversity in the defence industry.


Ever since its inauguration in 2014, the award winning industry led mentoring program has been committed to empowering women within the historically male-dominated industry - and in doing so, more broadly, enhancing Australia’s Defence capability.


Chair and founding member, Amelia De Angelis says the idea came about as a solutions’ based response to an ongoing challenge. “There were some issues around attracting and retaining women within defence industry roles,” says the Chief Operating Officer at Kinexus. 


“Kinexus identified that there was an opportunity to bring some organisations together to contemplate this challenge collectively, because it’s not just an individual organisation's challenge. It’s an issue faced by the industry as a whole.” Ms De Angelis says since then, the TFTC mentoring program has had profound impacts both at an individual and industry wide level.


“There are some great tangible examples within participant’s individual stories, where their involvement in the program has created a nurturing space where they can explore what might be possible, and has given them the confidence to go after it,” says Ms De Angelis.


“There's plenty of stories of people putting their hands up for promotions that they wouldn't have, if they hadn’t experienced that supportive space and guidance. So many have been really successful in achieving and growing from there.”


The local industry benefits are backed up by overseas research, from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labour Relations, which found that mentoring programs lifted minority representation at the management level by nine per cent to 24 per cent. That’s compared to minus two per cent, to 18 per cent with other diversity initiatives. 


The same study identified that mentoring programs also dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women; 15 per cent to 38 per cent as compared to non-mentored employees.


Ms De Angelis says TFTC has been able to break down significant barriers that were once facing women in the defence industry.


“One thing we know about mentorship is that it has a profound positive impact on someone's career trajectory. What we also know is that it is harder for women to access mentorship. In male dominated industries you see that play out, where there’s a sense that it’s not as accessible for women, who can’t necessarily find the right person to connect with.”


TFTC’s Program Specialist and Coordinator, Kat Lezes says the results have been powerful and compounding in nature. “It’s like planting seeds and watching them grow, the impact is exponential and self-perpetuating,” Ms Lezes says.


“A number of our current mentors are actually returning mentees who have come back on the program to share their knowledge and expertise with the next crop of participants. The benefits are immense and long-lasting for both the mentor and the mentee. It’s not just a 12 month commitment, it's an alumni, and it's an ongoing community.”


Applications for the 2021 program are open until May 28.


For more information on the program and to ask any questions you might have, please contact Kat Lezes, Program Specialist on 0412 436 451 or

Want to know more?

Review additional detail made available in the Seventh Edition of Kinexus’ Defence Industry Insights, which is available to download. 

For additional insight and to explore what the data means for your hiring activity and your defence industry organisation at large, get in contact with our consultants today.