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AECOM highlights Cultivate Program for Day of Families

AECOM highlights Cultivate Program for Day of Families

 April 30, 2022

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AECOM marks International Day of Families highlighting its involvement in the Cultivate Sponsorship program that supports AECOM in shifting the dial on gender equality and driving positive change for women in the global workplace and beyond. 

The Cultivate Sponsorship program is built for organizations that want to make a difference on gender equality and understand that real change does not happen overnight. Cultivate is a program that gives business leaders the tools to build strategic alliances with women. In the long-term, businesses see cultural change and improve their ability to attract and retain talented women. Guided by a carefully curated seven month program, sponsors and sponsored employees form a genuine and trusting connection.

AECOM Director of Culture & Leadership Growth, Kerrie Campbell, sponsored her colleague Anna Robinson on the program, while Anna was on maternity leave. “What started as the challenge of how we would do this during maternity leave quickly turned into an opportunity," says Kerrie. This shift in mindset was the beginning of an ongoing professional and personal relationship that changed the focus of both participants. Anna is Group Leader, Healthy Water & Civil Solution at AECOM.

AECOM advocates for a gender diverse workforce

"Women are still very underrepresented as a percentage of our workforce, and we really do value the diversity in all forms, but particularly gender diversity is very important to us," says Richard Barrett, AECOM CEO.

"A gender diverse workforce is key to having a vibrant and creative business and ultimately helps drive business success. Cultivate Sponsorship program (for senior female talent) is just one measure we can implement to do this," adds Richard.

AECOM provided Anna with an opportunity and choice to participate in the program before embarking on her maternity leave journey. Anna saw the program as an opportunity to reflect on her next career steps without the day-to-day distractions of the office. Anna received regular informal updates on the business via conversations with her sponsor, Kerrie. The program also enabled her to connect with many other new people across the business while on leave.

Anna says that her most significant moment of self-discovery was learning the art of being patient. “When you are patient, it is rewarding,” she comments.

Letting go of pre-existing expectations was also a learning for Anna. "Letting go pays off great dividends immediately. Being on the program while on mat leave, I think was directly responsible for me having a completely different role on my first day back,” she says.

Anna’s advice for young females in similar positions to herself is to: “Say yes to as many opportunities that present themselves to you, without overwhelming yourself. I have learnt from the program that every time you dare to put yourself out there and say yes, there is usually a very positive payoff.”

Reflecting on what she has learnt from Kerrie, Anna encourages others: “Advice and feedback from people you admire and respect is invaluable, but when you step outside your comfort zone and seek a broader range of opinions, you are likely to have greater success in solving complex problems," she comments.

One of the most significant benefits of Cultivate is that the learning and leadership development is not isolated to the sponsee; the sponsor undertakes a seven-month learning journey.

A precious experience

Kerrie describes the experience as “precious” because she could make a significant difference in someone else’s future. She adds, “often in the business of our lives, you don’t get to stop and take the time to focus on someone else in the business. As a sponsor, you allow the talent before you to fulfil their potential by removing the barriers, connecting the dots and watching people flourish, and that is rewarding.”

"You go into it for the other person but come out with plenty of learnings for yourself," shares Kerrie.

Sponsoring Anna reminded Kerrie of the enthusiasm and energy that comes with your early career stages. Kerrie was reminded to always have courage and faith. "You must have the courage to put yourself out there and take on something new and different even if you don’t know you can do it," she comments.

Having embraced a new outlook, Kerrie says, “on a personal level, I am finding myself committing to wild ideas without knowing how I am going to deliver on them…I am leaping out of my comfort zone and learning to be brave.”

When asked what she would advise her younger self post-program, Kerrie's comments speak volumes. “Seeing how valuable this program has been to so many women, if I were a 20-year-old, I would ask how I get myself a sponsor," she explains. Expanding your networks can connect you with people that help explain how “big things in life work and then help you navigate them.”

Kerrie advises future sponsors not to go into the program thinking you have to be a technical expert to add value to your sponsee’s development. “Sponsors are human beings too. You quickly learn in the program that it’s not about your technical expertise, it’s about your experience, it’s about your networks, and it’s about navigating organisations and careers. It doesn’t matter if you are from different disciplines; you bring value,” she adds.

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