AIPM 2021 National Mentee of the Year - Parimala Vemulakonda

Congratulations to Parimala Vemulakonda, Non-Routine Project Manager from the Network Services Team who recently was awarded the AIPM 2021 National Mentee of the Year. With a strong focus on continued personal and professional development, Parimala participated in The Australian Institute of Project Management Mentoring Program to ensure her project management skills aligned with the latest national and international standards. Here Parimala talks about her experience:

As a mentee, I have been chosen by many mentors to guide me throughout my 16 year career. Entering lockdown I searched for a learning program outside of Construction and Utilities to allow me to upgrade my skills to the latest national and international standards in project management.

The Australian Institute of Project Management Mentoring Program runs for nine months and provides support to project managers leaders to help them advance their professional certification, progress in their careers and grow into senior management and technical leadership roles.

The program involved building a mentoring relationship that is developed on trust and confidentiality, in which there is an exchange of knowledge, experience and goodwill.
Key activities I undertook included:

  • Preparing an agenda to discuss mutual goals, confidentiality, career paths, common desired outcomes, boundaries and logistics

  • Investigating a particular topic each fortnight to prepare a report for my Mentor to provide feedback

  • Working with my mentor on a number of areas of development, such as preparing a contract for myself to work on my career aspirations. It needed to allow me, as a female, to work while not impacting work life balance and allow me to share knowledge to the community

  • Reviewing lessons on common situations in the workplace to learn various skills such as collaboration and consultation

  • An analysis of my personality and attitude in which I discovered my key strengths were honesty, transparency and authenticity. This allowed me to overcome my weaknesses that had been holding me back for a long time

  • Reviewing my emotional intelligence where I was appreciated for my natural style of a ‘no-fuss-attitude’ with task oriented strategies

  • A role play session focusing on gender/heritage based issues in the work place

As a migrant to Australia, English was not my first language and I feared for over 10 years, sending emails and talking to my stakeholders due to a lack of confidence. This Mentor Program provided me with experienced guidance and support, the ability to work on my specific strengths, to network and understand the world outside of this industry, and helped build my confidence to allow me to advance in my career.

Yet, it was also a mutually beneficial partnership, with my Mentor advising he also learnt several things from myself such as adapting digital ways, managing career/family/self-care both mentally and physically.

Since winning the award, I have felt the positive transformation in myself and my team members and leaders have also noticed the positive shift. I feel more confident and nervous (in a good way) at the same time. I still have a lot to learn and I’m excited to be in this learning curve. It has been a platform for high growth and my performance levels have increased as result. Fundamentally I have learnt the importance of communication, and the need to keep it simple, real and authentic.