The role of the role model
Vanessa Schneider, Communications Officer, NLGN, 8 March, 2019

Today we are holding our second speed mentoring event to celebrate International Women’s Day. In this blog, External Affairs Officer Vanessa Schneider reflects on the role models she experienced growing up.

Earlier this year, I visited my alma mater as part of a careers event for my faculty. I was asked to present about my career path to current students. Looking at the audience of keen students there on a Saturday morning, I saw a scene reminiscent of my student years – the audience was full of young women, from all over the world. It made me reflect on some of the inspiring women in my life growing up.

Ms Kumar
At my school, everyone wanted to be in Ms Kumar’s maths class. She wasn’t always assigned the top students, but that wasn’t the point. Ms Kumar was able to explain mathematical concepts in a way that other teachers didn’t possess, and they failed to engage students. Ms Kumar’s patience and kindness are among the characteristics I hope to have taken on in my professional life.

Ms Ivanova
I took piano lessons from Ms Ivanova. Ms Ivanova did not care if I practiced for my lessons or not – she was going to be paid whatever the outcome – and yet I did not want to disappoint her. I was not a gifted pianist, but Ms Ivanova persisted. Her encouragement, constructive criticism and strictness are characteristics that I adopted as part of my work ethic, despite my last lesson being almost ten years ago.

Ms Dubois
I was lucky to volunteer my time at school with Ms Dubois, who coordinated an international programme for students who cared about global issues. Ms Dubois took a chance on me and invited me to work on the programme and support the organisation of several conferences around Europe. Ms Dubois’ faith in my abilities gave me faith in my own abilities – a characteristic that has become an asset in my career in Events and Communications since.

These women, amongst others, showed me what was possible, and their intentional mentoring instilled their positive characteristics in me (I hope).

NLGN is giving women in local government the same opportunity of mentorship that I had. I am excited to hear from 18 female Chief Executives in this sector, who have chosen to be mentors to women who hope to join their ranks one day, so I too can become a future female leader. I am proud to work on our International Women’s Day networking events. It repeats a message I have heard all my life – be a role model, be a mentor, be someone that you used to look up to.