No Challenge Too Great For Industry Collaboration Mentoring Program

By Sophie Richards on 01 September 2021

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​Kinexus, alongside several other trail-blazing defence industry organisations, co-founded the TFTC (The Future Through Collaboration) female mentoring program in 2014. Together, they sought to address the industry wide challenge of underrepresentation of women in engineering, project management, ICT and cyber fields.

Now in its seventh year, TFTC continues to grow from strength to strength. In celebration of the launch of the 2021 program on 26th August 2021, we spoke to Program Coordinator Kat Lezes to find out what makes this program so special, and what the mentors and mentees have to look forward to over the next 12 months.


What made the 2020 program different to previous years? Tell us some memorable moments.

It was no mean feat transferring what had, since its inception, been a networking-centric, face-to-face run program into an online format. Understandably, Kat and the team that run TFTC were nervous, but as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold it became clear there was little choice. As it turned out, they had no need to be worried.

“We’re very happy with how the switch to virtual worked out,” says Kat. Care was taken to ensure the networking aspect of the program was not lost, and the overall outcomes have been impressive.

“There are so many inspiring stories from the 2020 program. Mentees finally recognising their own capability and achievements, mentees being nominated for awards, we even had a mentor who completed the program whilst deployed overseas! We have really shown, through the online format, that participants who are working remotely or from home can still hit their professional goals.”


What can we expect from the 2021 program?

Whereas the 2020 program was entirely virtual, in 2021 we hope to have the opportunity to run a hybrid program. For mentors and mentees who are restricted to working from home, sessions will be facilitated online, whereas those who are under fewer restrictions can meet in person.

TFTC will welcome 58 pairs of mentors and mentees in 2021, the largest cohort yet, as well as three new participating organisations.

Testament to the transformative nature of the program, TFTC will welcome a mentee in 2021 that has previously been a mentor. Kat explains that this acknowledgement that careers are not linear is what TFTC is all about: “It’s about accessing the program at the point in time when you need it, at that change in your career trajectory.”

At the launch event on 26th August the Hon Melissa Price, Minister for Defence Industry, presided and offered her insight into the importance of diversity programs. Her words: “building a larger and more diverse talent-pool not only improves business, but also helps drive forward our national interests,” have never felt more pertinent.


What’s next for TFTC?

“Taking the program online felt like a major challenge, but now we’ve made that transition, it’s actually very exciting to think where the program could go,” explains Kat. The opportunity for a program with broader reach is significant, with increased potential for participation in regional areas and overseas. Indeed, for the first time TFTC welcomes a mentor based in the USA this year.

Now in its seventh year with over 500 people having graduated from the program, the role TFTC plays is becoming more and more evident. “This year, more than ever before, we have seen participants enrol on the basis of stories they have heard from colleagues or friends from their time in the TFTC program,” says Kat. This is what TFTC strives to do. To empower women to be the hero of their own story, and then to share those stories far and wide.


About TFTC

The TFTC Mentoring Program provides women working in the defence industry the opportunity to work with a senior defence industry mentor over 12 months.

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


TFTC in the press

Read the recent articles here: ADM | Defence Connect

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