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  • How Mentoring Changed the Life of a Young Woman at 3M

    March 03, 2021

    Two women seated in front of a 3M logo standee

    How Mentoring Changed the Life of a Young Woman at 3M

    The mentor-mentee relationship of 3M’s Barbara Niven and Kasey Douglas exemplifies the power of mentoring in kickstarting and shaping a young woman’s career, and indeed, her life.

    Their working relationship began 13 years ago when Barbara employed Kasey as a contract customer service representative in 3M’s Sydney office. Six weeks later Kasey was made a permanent employee

    “I was 23 and really had no direction – no real idea on where I was going or what I was doing - just plodding along,” Kasey recounts.

    “Barb encouraged me to do something with my life, which I really needed at that time. She arranged for me to get exposure to a range of functions in the company, including marketing and sales.

    Kasey Douglas, 3M Australia & New Zealand Manager
    Kasey Douglas, 3M Australia & New Zealand Marketing Manager, Automotive Aftermarket & Marine

    “She also helped in getting 3M management to support me to study a business degree. If it wasn’t for Barb, I would never have had the belief in myself, or think 3M would back me, to do this study.”

    Today, Kasey is 3M’s Marketing Manager for the Australia Automotive Aftermarket Division, mum to three-year-old twins and leads 3M’s Women’s Leadership Forum across Australia and New Zealand.

    Barbara, 3M’s Australia and New Zealand Customer Service Manager, says Kasey’s achievements are all her own but she feels privileged to have been part of her journey.

    “Kasey had enormous potential and I don’t think she realised that, so it was my job to draw that out and make sure she and those around her were aware of it. I’ve been lucky enough to help steer Kasey along the way but what she has achieved is due to her own work, whether it’s studying while working full time or bringing up her kids,” Barbara said.

    “The most rewarding part of mentoring Kasey has been the fact that she has always been willing to take on advice and be open about how she is feeling. Mentoring shouldn’t always be warm and fuzzy – at times we’ve had difficult conversations.”

    “As well as mentoring, it becomes a friendship. And it’s two-way, there are times I have gone to Kasey for advice on work and personal matters.”

    Barbara and Kasey say 3M’s culture has been a key ingredient in their mentor-mentee relationship. 3M offers formal mentorships, however Barbara and Kasey’s relationship is informal.

    “3M is all about the staff and supporting you in whatever way is needed. The culture is amazing for your own personal development. I’ve never had a manager who has not encouraged me to do what I want to do. No-one will hold you back,” Kasey said.

    Barbara Niven, 3M Australia & New Zealand Customer Service Leader
    3M Australia & New Zealand Customer Service Leader, Barbara Niven

    Kasey values her role as the leader of 3M Australia and New Zealand’s Women’s Leadership Forum – one of more than 65 chapters around the world designed to attract and develop leaders at every level throughout 3M to accelerate the inclusion and advancement of women.

    “The women’s leadership role is an opportunity to give back. I’ve also benefited from a 3M program called FlexAbility, which allowed me to continue working after I had the twins. I don’t think a lot of places would allow that sort of flexibility - I haven’t had to choose between working and being a mum.”

    Barbara and Kasey, who now also mentors staff at 3M, say mentoring is rewarding and doesn’t need to be overly complex.

    “Don’t be afraid to do it if you’re asked to be a mentor. It doesn’t have to be onerous – it can be as simple as a regular conversation. The only caveat is that you need to commit to devoting the time to it,” Barbara said.

    Kasey said: “I appreciate honesty from a mentor, which is something I focus on when I’m mentoring staff. Sometimes you need someone to tell you to think about an issue differently.”

    As for advice for up-and-coming female executives, Kasey says the key ingredients are having faith in your abilities and seeking out advice when needed.

    “It’s really about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. No-one will do it for you but everyone will back you, so just have a crack and do it. I wouldn’t have anything that I have in my life if I didn’t have 3M and the people at 3M, like Barb, that have pushed me to try.”

    3M’s Asia-Pacific workforce consists of 43% of women, up 15% since 2015. 3M’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mike Roman has signed the Catalyst CEO Champion for Change pledge. Together with 50+ other global companies and Catalyst Inc., a leading global non-profit helping to build workplaces that work for women, Mike and 3M have made strong organisational commitments to support diversity, inclusion and gender equality at work.

    3M also supports the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles that recognise that more must be done to achieve equal treatment for women.