Now in its eighth year, the scheme is intended to empower women to climb the PR ladder and take prominent leadership roles within the industry.
The programme lasts for 12 months, starting in August 2021. It involves a minimum of six mentoring sessions, plus ad hoc, discretionary support.
This year’s scheme will be 100 per cent digital, retaining the inclusive, online approach taken last year. By offering remote support at a time when many professionals are still feeling the impact of COVID-19, it is hoped that the programme will maintain strong regional representation and diversity, as well as a mix of agency, in-house and freelance participants. There are additional plans for in-person networking events in London and Wales later this year.
Following a rigorous judging process, conducted by the Mentoring Board (including mentors, mentees, the Women in PR Committee and PRWeek), final-stage candidates will take part in a telephone interview, with offers being made in July. Successful applicants can choose whether they are mentored by a male or female mentor.
To be eligible, potential mentees must:
- Have five years of industry experience with leadership potential (demonstrable experience to date and signs of being a leader of the future).
- Have clarity of career objectives and how access to a mentor will help get you there, including overcoming perceived obstacles.
- Have demonstrated that effort has been made to engage in key issues and effect change – for example, being an active member of a trade body, or helping/driving new initiatives to improve our industry.
- Commit to actively engage in this highly sought-after programme, and to drive the scheduling of mentoring sessions.
Anna Geffert, president of WiPR and a former mentee, said: “The static gender leadership figures at the Top 150 agencies and early released gender pay gap figures are the canaries in the mine. A recent survey we conducted showed that 68 per cent of women in PR are worried about opportunities for promotion. Many have undertaken the majority of the caring duties during this pandemic and feel that the opportunities and leadership roles available to senior women are either drying up or have vanished entirely.
“We are so very proud to unveil one of the most impressive and formidable mentor line-ups to date. Our mentors are the crème de la crème of senior leaders across consumer, luxury, corporate and public sectors, who have all volunteered to provide objective career support and guidance. This is key to helping to further our goal of greater female representation at the leadership level in PR and comms for the long-term.”
Laurian Hubbard and Rachel Moss, co-presidents of WiPR Cymru, said in a statement: “Last year, we launched Women in PR Cymru and one of the highlights was bringing the mentoring programme to Wales. It’s great to be part of this prestigious scheme again, for a second year. We have some stellar Welsh mentors on the UK line-up and some ring-fenced places for Welsh mentees. With COVID-19 having a disproportionate impact on women, this mentoring scheme is more important than ever and couldn’t come at a better time.”
Catherine Haywood, a 2020 mentee who was matched with Hachette UK group communications director and board member Doyel Maitra, said: "It’s no one’s dream scenario to have their role made redundant during a global pandemic, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of the programme during such a time of transition for me. Without Doyel’s expert guidance I know I wouldn’t have navigated this difficult period in my life so effectively and I’m certain that she played a pivotal part in me securing the role of head of marketing and communications at Medi UK. I would recommend anyone wanting to further develop their career at a senior leadership level to apply today.”
WiPR will host a virtual ‘Meet the Mentor’ panel event on 9 June from 5pm to 6.30pm, giving potential applicants the opportunity to hear more about the scheme and listen to and network with the mentors.
Mentors for 2021/2022
Amanda Allan, founder, Amanda Allan Consulting (previously head of brand PR at British Airways)
Ruth Allchurch, UK managing director, WE Communications (WiPR Committee member)
Rachel Bell, chair, The Academy, founder, Brand Spanking New Consulting, and NED for several brands
Graz Belli, co-founder, Third City
Priya Brahmbhatt-Patel, director of communications, Ofgem
Matt Brown, director of news and external relations, Transport for London
Gay Collins, founding partner, Montfort Communications
Seb Dilleyston, joint MD, Hope&Glory
Bieneosa Ebite, head of corporate communications, Centrica
Victoria Ford, director, Perago Wales
Rachel Friend, chief executive, W Communications
Nicola Green, corporate affairs director and executive committee member, O2 (Telefónica UK)
David Holdstock, director of communications, Local Government Association
Molly Hooper Aldridge, entrepreneur and former global chief executive of M&C Saatchi PR
Ali Jeremy, director of communications and engagement, The Royal Parks
Roxanne Kalha, managing director, The Romans (WiPR Committee member)
Effie Kanyua, director of PR and communications, Hearst UK
Annabel Lloyd, independent strategic communications consultant
Doyel Maitra, group communications director and board member, Hachette UK
Michele Moore Duhen, communications lead, Vodafone Business
Emily Morgan, managing director, consumer, The Red Consultancy
Ginny Paton, managing partner, Ogilvy
Tanya Ridd, director of communications, international, Snap Inc.
Anouska Ruane, global director of group communications, Soho House & Co
Sarah Samee, director, SJS Strategies Ltd (WiPR Committee member)
Sarah Scholefield, global chief executive, Grayling
Vicki Spencer-Francis, founder and managing director, Cowshed
Paul Stephenson, partner and co-founder, Hanbury Strategy
Jennifer Thomas, communications consultant, GSK
Tom Willetts, head of media relations, Prudential