Mentoring in the young water professionals' training program: Lessons for effective capacity development

Basant Maheshwari, Debbie Atkins, Dharmappa Hagare, Ricky Spencer, Peter Dillon, Sharad Jain, Russell Rollason, Jason Reynolds, Jen Dollin, Okke Batelaan, Roger Packham, Jayanti Bhai Patel, Mihihr Kumar Purkait, Anik Bhaduri, Damodhara Mailapalli, Alaknanda Ashok, Jyothi Prasad

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Abstract

Training young water professionals in India and many other countries often focuses primarily on technical skills, leaving them ill-prepared to deal with complex challenges and changing water management practices of the 21st century. Mentoring programs need to be designed to address the gap in competency development by incorporating transdisciplinary projects and activities, team building, professional networking, and relationship-building. This will equip young professionals with the necessary leadership and managerial skills. Here, we present a case study of the Young Water Professionals (YWP) training program for participants from India, which developed transdisciplinary thinkers capable of leading positive change in the water industry. The YWP training program involved 20 participants under 35 years of age, paired with mentors from Australia and India who were experienced professionals in the water sector. The Mentor role was diverse and included positioning as an educator, sponsor, advisor, advocating agent, role model, coach, and confidante. This diversity of roles and attributes was necessary to support the mentees in their personal and professional development. The transdisciplinarity of the YWP training approach combined mentoring with technical training, experiential learning through situation understanding and improvement (SUIP), and working with client and project partners is expected to benefit the participants' professional outcomes significantly. The mentoring program aided in facilitating the achievement of career goals and improved the ability of participants to manage workplace challenges providing a clearer path for career progression. There were several learnings for future YWP mentoring, including; a hybrid mentoring mode, making online mentoring more interactive and productive and strengthening lines of communication. Overall, the YWP program reinforced the value of mentoring, especially the role of mentoring in enhancing the skills and capabilities of young water professionals and preparing them for future leadership roles in the water industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-348
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Water Policy
Volume9
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • capacity building
  • leadership development
  • mentees
  • mentors
  • professional development
  • project management
  • transdisciplinary approach
  • young water professional

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