WWF makes mentoring effective for participants from the Global South

WWF ValuesDuring 2022, the WWF global mentoring programme saw an increasing number of staff joining the programme from Africa, Asia and South/Middle America. 60% of mentees and nearly 30% of mentors came from the Global South. Regardless of location, mentees say that mentoring assisted them with work-related challenges, built skills on the job and made them more confident. Mentors were motivated by the programme and found it developed their leadership skills.

Mentoring as a crucial tool within the WWF organisation

Mentoring is a key tool for WWF to spread experiences across regional and topical boundaries. It encourages professional and personal development and offers an opportunity to apply WWF values in action — Courage, Integrity, Respect and Collaboration.

“Mentoring is not only a specific WWF programme, but it’s a philosophy around the way we do capacity building in the organisation. It is an ongoing approach that we adopted long time ago, in order to promote cross functional and cross regional support among staff members, enhancing innovative ways of learning and making peers to peers support a winning card of our people development strategy. That goes hand in hand with the internal coaching programmes and it’s with this clear objective in mind that we we also introduced the possibility of building coaching and mentoring relationships as a follow up to our V-Lead programme.” Francesca Romana Marcucci — Head People & Culture Development, WWF International

In addition, we continue to mobilise support from our Alumni mentors for further know-how and knowledge transfer within our global network.

Involving the Global South is key for knowledge transfer in a global organisation

Global SouthAll staff have important learnings to offer and the programme encourages proactive sharing of expertise which helps in learning on the job and achieving conservation goals.

WWF gives special attention to good matching with the help of our Mentoring Ambassadors who continue to bring diversity benefits into the programme. Many Mentees, including from the Global South, gain confidence in the programme and continue to grow their leadership as Mentors.

WWF’s global mentoring programme has grown year after year and saw close to 1000 participants between 2018 and 2022.

The special value of mentoring in the Global South

The 2022 cohorts (90 Mentees and 90 Mentors) saw an increasing number of South-South and South-North exchanges and a high number of women joining the programme:

  • 13 South South matches, for example staff from Africa mentoring someone from Latin America or South East Asia, or the other way around. Special value: supports strategic insights and adaptations for other contexts;  strengthens South South collaboration, broadens horizons, encourages innovative conservation approaches
  • 6 South North matches: for example staff from Africa, Latin America or South East Asia mentoring someone from North America or Europe. Special value: deepens the understanding of local contexts and realities of working with communities/ in projects / with stakeholders; helps to challenge assumptions and sharpens strategic thinking and target orientation
  • 17 North South matches: for example staff from the global North mentoring someone from the global South. Special value: Continues to strengthen global networks and encourages knowledge transfer
  • Even gender balance: WWF’s mentoring programme empowers women. The 2022 cohorts saw 50% female participants, both as Mentees and Mentors.

Comments from mentors and mentees on the 2022 programme

“Having a mentor helped to reaffirm why I do what I do here at WWF. It also made me more confident in my abilities, and less alone with challenges that I face. Having a mentor and learning from their experiences, and being able to share mine in turn, was a very rewarding experience; and moreover it really made me understand the vast extent of our amazing global network.” Divya — WWF Singapore

“I would like to express my gratitude for providing such a mentoring opportunity for the second time now! It arrived just when I needed it the most – first when I was very new to the organization and second time when I needed some mentoring in my job. The Mentor and I have been in touch, and it has been quite beneficial! Once again, I appreciate you providing us with this program.” Bhawana Kafley — WWF Bhutan

“I have really appreciated my mentorship journey. I started it, almost drowning in my work and failing to get a decent work-life balance. This year of being mentored has offered me insights from a practical perspective on how to better manage my assignments at work, how to delegate a bit more, improve the performance of the projects and collaborate a bit more. I would recommend this mentorship program to anyone in the network who has not undergone it yet.” Beauty S. Mbale — WWF Zambia

Tips for Mentoring in global networks and encouraging staff participation from the Global South

  1. Penglipuran Village, Bali — Global SouthMake diversity a goal in your programme: Encourage broad staff participation from any region without hierarchy in a confidential setting. Signal that all staff have important experiences to share, in both roles — as Mentees and Mentors. This builds confidence.
  2. Cultural awareness: A great opportunity to experience cross cultural relationships. Offer briefings or supporting materials on cross cultural communication and skills 12.
  3. Language: Offer mentoring arrangements in different languages. WWF is piloting mentoring matches in Spanish and French language to encourage more staff participation in Africa and South America.
  4. Flexibility: Create a framework that is inclusive and flexible from the outset to accommodate work schedules and internet access. (eg if people are out in field work)

“Mentoring is a great way to experience an exciting global network in action. Our deliberate cross regional matches encourage staff to think out of the box and adapt learnings from other regions or teams. Cross cultural awareness is deepened – a must have skill in a global organisation.” Helma Brandlmaier — Knowledge Manager and Co-lead of WWF’s Mentoring programme

WWF’s Mentoring programme achieved proven benefits in the past 4 years with minimal funds and staff time (and indeed participant time).

Benefits of mentoring for WWF as organisation

  • Improves productivity, builds better problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Transfers knowledge between staff
  • Tailored learning — supports learning on the job
  • Deepens the ability for reflection, as well as strategic and innovative thinking
  • Supports staff in realizing their potential
  • Builds leadership skills
  • Improves confidence and motivation
  • Helps WWF culture and values come alive
  • Builds friendships and connections across regions, functions and boundaries — allowing for sharing and growing — experiencing an exciting global network in action.

WWF Mentee locations

90 mentees located in 41 countries participated

    80%  said it made them more confident
    78%  said it assisted them with work-related challenges
    72%  said it was a good personal development
    68%  said it motivated them
    65%  said it helped them be more strategic
    59%  said they feel more part of a global network
    51%  said they improved some of their work with the help of the mentor

    Lis and the team have continued to support the programme with briefings and are currently supporting our 2023 cohort, which we hope will be our best ever.

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