Women's Leadership Network launches first mentorship program

NYU Abu Dhabi students joined mentors from the greater Abu Dhabi community for the women’s mentorship program kick-off lunch on Oct. 26. Organized by ...

NYU Abu Dhabi students joined mentors from the greater Abu Dhabi community for the women’s mentorship program kick-off lunch on Oct. 26. Organized by the Women’s Leadership Network, a NYUAD Student Interest Group, the program pairs young women with inspiring female mentors.
The women’s mentorship program in the UAE is led by senior Nicole Lopez del Carril — who was a mentee in Argentina while studying abroad — with the assistance of Renee Dugan from the Office of Global Education, Hazel Raja from the Center for Career Development and Tracy Lavin from the Office of Community Relations.
“There are 16 mentors and 21 mentees, and we have [two pairs] in New York, so this is an international project,” said Lopez del Carril.
She opened the discussion with her own definition of mentorship.
“A mentor is an experienced advisor, a consultant, a friend,” she said. “Mentors offer professional and personal advice, open doors, establish networks and create dialogues to help mentees.”
Mentors and mentees are matched on the basis of five-question profiles.
“Questions range from ‘What are your goals?’ to ‘What have you been involved with in the UAE?’” said Lopez del Carril. “I [met] with all the mentors and interviewed them so I got the feeling of how they work in order to match them with mentees.”
Lopez del Carril said that the kick-off lunch is an interesting beginning of both formal and informal communication between mentors and mentees. It is designed as a way for mentees to get a fresh perspective, based on the experience of their mentors and a clear picture of their own future. The most important goal of the mentorship program, Lopez del Carril said, is to listen.
Jules Lewis, a coach speaker, sport scientist and one of the mentors, gave a speech that was inspiring to other mentors who have cooperated with her in the past. She has led female expeditions to Antarctica and Mongolia, one of which involved women who had won their battle against cancer.
Lewis’ speech focused on vision, women’s leadership and facing today’s changing world.
“To be able to see what nobody else is able to see is to have the vision and so much energy that everybody follows you,” said Lewis. “This is what it’s like being a leader. It’s like standing on top of a mountain and gazing down — you see differently than when you’re down in the valley.”
For further success, Lewis said to take risks, have confidence and the courage to follow one’s dreams.
“This is a journey where you meet your mentors, your shamans, your sages, your teachers,” she said. “As you go, you learn from those people and they learn from you, so you come back a hero from that journey. Having the courage to do, to visualize and dream is the only way [to succeed]. Make sure you have some good mentors around you when you start that journey.”
Lewis said the fuel that keeps the string of the career path going is to laugh. Laughing, she said, boosts our endorphins and brightens us.
“She who laughs will last,” she said.
Lewis closed her speech with several messages for the mentees.
“If you want to do something, what matters is the ‘why’ not the ‘how,’” said Lewis. “And there will always be opportunities, as long as you want to try.”
Following Lewis’ speech, a three-minute movie was shown to the mentors and mentees. The movie documented the 11-day journey of women who survived cancer and climbed the highest glacier in Antarctica.
“This is a beginning of a long-term relationship where the mentors will help us find our career paths and give us valuable advice,” said senior Neelgoon Safdar.
Lopez del Carril has also worked as an intern for a women’s rights NGO in Washington D.C.
“One part of the organization dealt with women’s mentorship program and every year on one day they organized a mentorship walk on different locations all around the world where entrepreneurs come to share knowledge,” she said. “Inspired by this, when I was studying in Argentina, I contacted their Women’s Leadership program and volunteered as a mentee.”
She said her experience as a mentee inspired her to start a women’s leadership program. There is a wealth of very successful women in the UAE who can share their experiences with young mentees and give them valuable advice.
Lopez del Carril remains positive about future collaborations between mentors and mentees.
“My goal is for mentors and mentees to meet once a month throughout the year and talk, where mentees would get a fresh perspective about their future paths and careers,” she said. “This experience is valuable.”
Emina Osmandžiković is a contributing writer. Email her at 
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