Top New Zealand business women are helping to nurture female students into professionals who can confidently navigate the competitive corporate world.
Fletcher Building director Cecilia Tarrant has experienced first-hand the benefits of mentoring during her career in law, banking and governance.
"Women are incredibly good social networkers, yet in my experience they're not as good at networking in business," she says.
Tarrant, who chairs the University of Auckland Business School Women's Mentoring Programme, says women are not naturally good self-promoters.
"As New Zealanders we're discouraged from blowing our own trumpets, so for Kiwi women it's a double whammy."
The mentoring programme was established in 2011 to give female business students the tools, knowledge and confidence to make a successful transition from university into full-time work.
Each year 75 students are matched with successful business women. They are offered a series of workshops and speaker events, and regular one-on-one contact with their mentor. This year's topics include developing your online presence, making a good first impression and building rapport.
For many years women have comprised at least half of the Business School graduates and are consistently at the top of their classes, yet they continue to be under-represented at board, senior executive and partnership level.
Tarrant says one reason for this could be that many women lack the confidence to put their hands up for more senior roles.
"If there are 10 requirements for a job a woman will wait until she ticks all the boxes, but a man will fit four of them and think that's enough, he can do the rest," she says.
"All you can really do is give people strategies and you hope that through the course of the year, they learn and gain the confidence to put themselves forward."
Support from Auckland's business community is stronger than ever this year, with 120 women across a wide range of industries applying for the 75 mentor positions.
Mel Biss, general manager of Governance, Assurance and Business Support at ANZ, was a mentor on the programme for the first time in 2014 and continued this year.
She has supported her students through job applications, helped them prepare for interviews and given them insight into what they can expect when they start work after university.
"It's a great relationship - you're not a big sister, you're not by any stretch a replacement mum. You are another person to talk to, a sounding board if you like, and one who's independent."
The events and networking opportunities allow the students to get comfortable talking to senior people in business, and they get to hear from successful women who would not otherwise be visible.
"It's easy to name successful men in business. My sense is that young men at university don't question that one day they could be the CEO of a big organisation or a partner in a major law firm. Young women dream about that too, but many of them probably wonder if it's really possible. This programme shows them that it is - it helps them see that there are amazing women out there doing amazing things," Biss says.
An important message the students get from Biss is to remain authentic - be themselves, don't feel like there's a requirement to conform, and ensure social media profiles such as LinkedIn are a true reflection.
Biss was instrumental in garnering sponsorship from ANZ to boost funding for the programme this year, which has allowed for more workshops, guest speakers and added extras.
"This programme helps young women now. But it will come into its own sometime in the future - by enabling long lasting relationships and confidence, the programme will create networks of women who will support and challenge one another throughout their careers."
Celeste McCormick, who now works for Microsoft in Sydney, was a student on the programme in 2013 while she was in her final year studying towards a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Commerce degree.
She had already started working as an intern at Microsoft where she met other Business School graduates who had been through the Women's Mentoring Programme.
"At Microsoft it's really well regarded, so I was thrilled to be accepted, it was a huge honour."
As an international business student working at a global corporation with a goal of working overseas, McCormick was paired with a mentor who had worked for L'Oreal in Singapore. Throughout the year they met for coffee every few months and emailed each other in between.
"She did a lot of work with me on thinking about what I wanted out of my career and how I was going to get there."
Her mentor encouraged her to choose three stand-out things about herself that she could discuss in an interview to make her memorable.
"When I flew to Sydney for the interview for the job I have now, the first thing the hiring manager said to me was 'I want you to come up with a personal brand and deliver a presentation'. I couldn't believe it, we'd spent hours on it together so it was really helpful."
McCormick says as a result of the programme she is now part of an extensive network of young female Business School graduates working across a range of industries.
"I know that when I come back to New Zealand, the women I met and got to know in that programme will be doing phenomenal things throughout their careers, and having that group is an amazing thing to be part of."