Mentorship for the Next Professional Female Leaders

Mentorship for the Next Professional Female Leaders

October 4, 2015

The first meetingBangladesh Women Professional Network 1st session of Bangladesh Women Professionals Network (BWPN), previously known as Women Professionals Network (WPN) took place on August 22, 2015 at BRAC University Auditorium with more than 100 members attending the program. The event was organized by Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) in association with BRAC Bank Ltd. The event was supported by BRAC University as Knowledge Partner, HR Next as Leadership Development Partner, Masthead PR as PR Partner, Webable as Social Media Partner and Aamra as Technology Partner. The main objective of the first monthly meeting was to launch the BWPN Mentorship Program. The meeting was facilitated by Mr. Shariful Islam, Founder and Managing Director, Bangladesh Brand Forum. 

BWPN was launched in May 2015, under the mother project Women in Leadership (WIL) of BBF, with a vision to empower the women of the corporate arena by connecting them through a single network. The aim of this network is to share knowledge and promote mutual assistance among the members. Currently BWPN is a network of 204 working females and university students from 87 different organizations. 

WIL President_Nazia _Andaleeb_Preema

In her welcome speech, Nazia Andaleeb Preema, President of the WIL said, “Mentoring is going to play a key role at BWPN. We plan to bring back the ‘Guru Shishya’ concept, which was a core part of development in our society in the past.” BWPN’s newly launched mentorship program pairs up young female professionals (mentee) with a more experienced professional, both male and female, (mentor) for a 1 year period to aid them break the corporate glass ceiling. The mentorship program of BWPN is designed to assist in psychological and aptitude level of female professionals.

Conducting research to identify the key obstacles female professionals confront across different fields, using the platform of BWPN, is also a key part of the initiative. The research on four particular topics (Leadership Style, Talent Acquisition, Environment, and Policy & Practice) will be lead by Fatema Rizwana, SVP, Head of Human Resource, BRAC Bank Ltd.; Syeda Yasmin Rahman, Chief People Officer, Accenture Bangladesh; Zinnia Tanzina Huq, Finance Director and Company Secretary, GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh; and Deneb Latif, Country Head, Talent Acquisition, Standard Chartered Bangladesh. In their speech, the experts have shared their insight and interesting facts.

Fatema RizwanAudience and participants at BWPNa stressed from the perspective of gender equality in her organization, neither discrimination against women that stifles their career opportunities nor discrimination in favor of women that gives them preferential treatment is conducive to women’s empowerment. Equality should mean equal treatment irrespective of gender biasness, not gender preference or quota.

Ms. Deneb Latif encouraged the women present saying, “It’s not that the organization or our male counterparts in the organization is hindering our growth. It is also us who are keeping ourselves deprived not availing the opportunity we get. For example, when we offer a mid-level female employee to take charge of a top level post, in most of the cases they don’t tend to come out of their comfort zone. To them, their current position is quite stable balancing professional and personal life. In these scenarios, they need to come out of comfort zone and take charge.”

Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, honorable VC of BRAC University has also consented to assist BWPN in providing guidance from his long experience and assistance in conducting research. He emphasized on the importance of research, “To find the right path for taking the next step, only research has a dependable base. Research is about getting to know different stories, connecting them and bring about an overall perspective. Listen to the stories of 30 women; it will be more than enough!”

Later on Humaira Afreen of HR Next presented before the audience the pros and cons of the Mentorship program. After finishing her presentation, she disclosed the name of 11 mentors from different professional background and industry. Participants were asked to fill up a form mentioning the most preferred mentors. HR Next & BWPN will assign 3 mentees per mentor according to the mentees need and preference.

The last part of the meeting was a panel discussion on how this mentorship program can benefit the mentees in their career progression, taking Nazia Andaleeb Preema, Shariful Islam, Syed Tanvir Husain, Director, Center of Expertise, Grameenphone Ltd; Sabbir Hasan Nasir, Executive Director, ACI Logistics Ltd; and Zara Mahbub, SVP, Head of Communication & Service Quality, BRAC Bank Ltd as the panelist. The discussion was followed by an interactive session among the audience and the panelist. To a question regarding cross industry mentorship, Mr. Husain answered, “A coach and a mentor is not the same person. A coach needs the experience of your same field to guide you, whether a mentor can be from different field but will be able to give you a solution, guide you or advice you from his/her long gained experience.” 


Iftekharul Dastagir

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