Sponsoring takes extra step to mentoring junior business talent

| October 16, 2014

There are many different approaches which can be taken to nurture rising corporate talent. Telstra’s Angela Lovegrove explains how sponsorship compares to traditional business mentoring.

Many junior women entering the corporate world underestimate the power of sponsorship and how it can positively contribute to the career of a high potential yet unrecognised employee.

According to research from the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York-based think tank, 77 per cent of junior women believe hard work and long hours, not connections, contribute the most to their advancement in the corporate world. There is an overwhelming sense by these junior women that getting ahead by any other means is unscrupulous.

Women often lack the confidence to speak up and challenge the way a business is operating or its strategic direction, and because of this they would particularly benefit from a sponsor relationship.

Sponsors are designed to enhance your career, guiding junior, inexperienced women through the corporate world to gain confidence in the workplace and provide knowledge to lead them on a path to senior roles or to become a leader in their industry.

When it comes to promotions, pay rises and stretch assignments, sponsorship provides a benefit of up to 30 per cent, a boost that mentoring alone can never hope to match.  Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return. Whereas, sponsors, are much more invested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them.

There are benefits to sponsorship for both the sponsor and sponsoree. It all starts with senior leaders who are prepared to provide support and promote top talent (sponsoree). The sponsoree needs to provide a point of view and insights that are valuable to a sponsor. Delivery of insights and consistent achievements to an agreed plan is vital to building trust and rapport between the sponsor and the sponsoree.

Inexperienced and less self-aware senior leaders who don’t engage in sponsoring judge others when what the individual needs is coaching. Worse still, the non-sponsoring leaders speak to other leaders rather than engaging sponsorees, which would give a sponsoree the opportunity to learn.

The premise of sponsorship is designed to help sponsorees navigate the organisation, communicate who the detractors are and assist the sponsoree to establish the rapport and trust needed to progress relationships and advance their career.

Junior women should consider getting involved in a sponsorship program as it can pave the way for future successes and escalate career progression.

Angela Lovegrove will be presenting on the role of sponsors at the Macquarie University Women, Management and Work Conference, held in Sydney on 12 November 2014. As the Regional General Manager for Telstra, Angela is responsible for the transformation of Telstra from a carrier to an ICT Solution business. Before joining Telstra, Angela was the Customer Success Director if high growth cloud solutions business Salesforce, responsible for Australia and New Zealand.



  1. Angela Lovegrove

    Angela Lovegrove

    October 28, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Nikki,
    We have no formal

    Hi Nikki,

    We have no formal sponsorship program at Telstra, but we do have a female Top talent program which encourages sponsorship, we also have a comprehensive leadership capability framework, where sponsorship features.

    On a personal note, Telstra is an incredibly supportive environment and I feel privileged to be part of a talented leadership team.


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    October 23, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Great article. Definately
    Great article. Definately agree on the importance of sponsors in helping to enhance your career.
    I’m interested to hear of any examples of companies that have formal sponsorship programs in place (rather than formal mentoring programs), and how successful they are. Do you have a formal program in Telstra?