Energizing People and Ideas Through Mentorship
Mary Ratzki and Salma Al Asaad play “trust cups,” an activity designed to work toward building a high trust relationship between mentors and mentees.

Mentorship programs around the world have been proven to be an effective way to transfer knowledge from one individual to another.

Passing on knowledge is particularly important here at Saudi Aramco. With 54% of our employees under the age of 35, and 28% between the ages of 45-60, the need to retain best practices is imperative. Mentorship relationships pass on company knowledge, culture, and best practices, along with creating a higher job satisfaction for both mentor and mentee.

Employees in the early stages of their career seek mentors to better understand company culture. Mentorships help keep employees at the beginning of their career happy while also producing company loyalty. The extra feedback and people conversations add a new dimension to both the mentee and mentor’s career.

In alignment with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Women Development and Diversity Division (WD&DD) here at Saudi Aramco has created a pipeline to assist in developing the women at Saudi Aramco. HRH Mohammad bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al-Sa’ud, President of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, said it best in the 2030 vision: “Our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our younger generation.”

The WD&DD Mentorship Program connects female colleagues with experienced mentors to help build and develop their professional skills, share best practices, set goals, and enhance their network. Studies show that mentoring and networking opportunities help women advance more quickly and effectively in business. 

Saudi Aramco’s Mentorship Program

The program fuels the pipeline for women to grow professionally within their career and work toward leadership positions. Created in 2015, the program was designed to support women with an encouraging and experienced mentor. Over the past two years, the program has tweaked and refined its agenda, growing extensively as a result. It now stands as one of the most highly sought-after programs for professionals in Saudi Aramco.

In early 2015, the Mentorship Program was instituted with 12 mentors and 12 mentees. At the time, few people were willing to give their time to be a mentor, and mentees were hesitant to join due to the program’s amateur status.

During the pilot project, participants noted they needed more time to create genuine connections. The program was then extended from its original six-month duration to a full year. Over the past two years, WD&DD has blazed a trail toward lifelong relationships.

The Mentorship Program’s Wave 6 began earlier this month and the team is preparing for Wave 7 from Jan. 16 to Feb. 13. Having trained and served 46 mentees with 46 willing mentors in less than 18 months and with 10 to15 partnerships per wave, WD&DD hopes to foster 160 relationships by the end of 2017.

Making a Match

Energizing People and Ideas Through Mentorship
Angela R. Van Rooyen

Mentors are highly respected males and females with 10 years or more of work experience and at least three years with the company. Mentees are recruited from Women In Business graduates, along with personal requests and referrals. Mentees and mentors are matched based on their preferences and interests. WD&DD strives to purposefully connect pairs across different functional organizations to promote confidentiality of shared information.

Beshayer Subaie, a mentee from Engineering Services, said the program is beneficial. “I believe that the beauty of this mentorship program is that it connects you with a mentor who shares the same interest but from another area,” she said. “This program is the channel to exchange knowledge.”

Mentor Angela R. Van Rooyen from the Personnel Department recounted, “My mentee and I hit it off from the start. Even though we hadn’t been formally introduced and matched up, Maiss Hamad and I began communicating right away. I knew from the start that she was committed to the program and highly motivated.

“She is always open to suggestions and asks for feedback without hesitation. We have built a trusting relationship, and this is mainly due to her willingness to open up about her goals, fears, and hopes,” Van Rooyen said. “In the short time she has been participating in the program, my mentee has learned to be an advocate for herself and her persistence has paid off as she was recently offered an assignment with a new department.”

Advantages for Mentees

Energizing People and Ideas Through Mentorship
Salma M. Asaad

Hussah Alsultan from the Engineering Knowledge and Resources Division had a powerful realization during the first wave. Alsultan explained: “It hit me because I was here, and my goals are way over there, far out of reach. I needed help not in how to do my job, but in things more complicated and pressing than that.”

Salma M. Asaad from the Management and Professional Development Department noted: “The conversations I’ve had with my mentor are among the best I’ve ever had. He gracefully holds a sacred space for us to be open and share towards a common goal of expanding my self-awareness.

“My relationship with my mentor is a constant reminder to be curious and interested in the lives of those around me. I’m learning not to escape moments of great tension, because it’s in these moments that we make the most sense of ourselves. I’m learning to merge with the uncomfortable because only then will I grow beyond it,” Asaad said.

Benefits for Mentors

Benefits for mentees are quite clear for most to see, but many people do not consider how advantageous a mentorship is to the mentor. Mentors receive training on how to identify the differences between coaching and mentoring, understanding the roles of a mentor, and how to build high-trust relationships. In the program, mentors gain new skills through training and networking with different generations and career fields. Similar to mentees, mentors have expressed many benefits along with being inspired and reinvigorated in their career path.

Van Rooyen said, “This program has also benefited me, as I now feel re-energized and have a positive outlook on not only Maiss Hamad’s future but also how I can continue to grow from this experience.”