Ali Adey is the founder of She Mentors, a community with a mission to connect, support and empower women in business. Recognising a gap in the market for a forum that focuses on female progression through the workforce, she created one herself.
Photography by Hannah Scott Stevenson.
You’re the founder of a mentoring program for women, can you explain how it works?
“She Mentors started as a meet-up group and has since evolved into an amazing community of mentors, experts and peers. Each member donates one hour of their month to another woman in the group, which guarantees real, authentic connections and ongoing support. We invite some of Australia’s best female entrepreneurs and leaders to share their stories and insights, and mentor the women who come to these events.”
“It’s been really ground-breaking for a lot of women as they get to connect with a lot of women they might usually not really connect with. It’s also been great to me because I finally feel like I’m doing something where I’m giving back.”
What inspired the idea?
“I was lying on the beach in Mexico and was reading a report that shared that there were only nine female CEOs in the top 200 Australian companies, and there was a gender pay gap of fifteen percent. I was completely shocked. I then thought to myself that I really want to meet other women in business to talk about these topics. But when I looked for events or meetup groups in Melbourne I couldn’t find anything. So I thought I’d start my own. Overnight a few women joined the group, which snowballed over the next few months. I knew then that I would have to host an event. The first one was a great success and I realised there was a real demand for these kind of events that talked to the progression of female leaders.”
What does the notion of nurture mean to you?
“I think nurture is a really lovely word. I think it means that you take care of someone, that you love and support them. I’m very drawn to women who nurture, I think it’s because they are invested in your well-being and they actually want you to succeed, which I think is a key thing. They hold your hand through difficult moments, they give you wisdom. Sharing that past knowledge and experience is how you grow, and how you flourish. I love the word!”
“I think nurturing someone, and seeing them evolve and grow, brings people a lot of joy. Personally I love seeing the women in the She Mentors community grow and evolve over time. I’ve seen people growing confident in their abilities and ask for promotions and pay rises because they feel empowered because the women around them have nurtured them. I think it’s a really beautiful thing to be able to give back.”
Is there someone who has really nurtured you?
“I’d have to say my mum. She’s the definition of nurturing. She has this unshakable belief in my abilities. She’s really championed me and told me to be more confident, to put myself out there more. She’s so warm, and she’s taught me everything I know about looking after each other and being a woman’s woman.”
We think it is important that we nurture ourselves, how do you do so?
“I’m constantly looking at ways of upskilliing – podcasts, books, blogs anything that will help me evolve from a business point of view. But mindset, because I think that’s really important to succeed. So I’m looking at why I’m feeling a certain way and how can I improve on this so that it changes my actions. This has become really important within the She Mentors community, as a lot of the members struggle with self-belief and self-confidence – myself included. So a big part of my self-development is working on that.”
Now that you’re becoming a mother yourself, has it changed your perspective on your work?
“I’m five months pregnant at the moment. Nurturing has always been a part of who I am, I think I’ve always nurtured other people, but now I’m actually having a baby I think it gives it a whole new meaning. I think the work of She Mentors goes hand-in-hand with being pregnant and becoming a mum, because the things I’m working on in my business are directly going to affect my daughter in the future.”
Has there been a moment through She Mentors that has made a big impact on you?
“I’ve had loads of inspirational stories of the women who have come through our workshops. One in particular that resonates, a woman attended one of our events on Imposter Syndrome. She messaged me after and said it really struck a chord with her. She had this moment where she realised she had so much negativity towards herself but the speaker was so incredible at helping her deal with that and made her feel so much more confident. I have so many stories of women who are feeling the effects of being a part of this community and giving me that feedback that it’s actually changing their life in some way.”