Nieka Bishop – My Experience as a Mentee

by | Nov 19, 2020 | Shared Stories

Nieka Bishop was a mentee in our 2019 TFTC Mentoring Program, and reflects on her time with the TFTC Mentoring Program as a graduated Mentee.

Tell us a bit about what you are responsible for in your current role.

I am a Project Engineer, and my rank is a Flight Lieutenant in the Air Force. I work in Defence Plaza in Melbourne, but due to social distancing I am currently working from home.

I’m working in a Defence project where there are many mini projects I’m working on, some of these smaller projects are a smaller scale and some are 3 figure projects within a larger aircraft acquisition project.
Within that I do a lot of Budget management, Managing contractor workloads/deliverables, Monthly reporting and scheduling.

Tell us about how you got to where you are now.

My previous role was working on a sustainment project that was in the process of setting up the in-service aircraft management contract (developing all the systems and processes to run the program). I am now currently in an acquisition project that’s in the last few months of its life as we quickly approach Final Acceptance – mainly focusing on closing out all the remaining acquisition requirements and handing chunks of work to the sustainment organisation. 

Being in Defence, our roles move around quite a bit so you need to make the most of it. I have gone for jobs where my strengths lie and where I can get the best experience to further my career and really make the most of each role.

What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

The most rewarding part of my job is delivering systems and processes to the operators (the pilots and other people that will use the capability) that actually fulfill their needs. At the end of an acquisition project, there’s always going to be lots of little things that have been left till the end. Some of these leftover issues are the things that make all the difference to the day-to-day operation of the aircraft, and it’s the chasing these things to the ground that makes all the difference for the people who actually have to use the systems.

Can you describe how you felt meeting your mentor for the first time?

My first impression of my mentor was that she was classy, professional and hardworking, but still came across as friendly and had a good sense of humour.
Historically, Defence leadership styles have been very male centered. Female representation is still growing so it was refreshing to meet someone that embodied what I want to bring to the table, and to see how successful she was.

What do you think was the greatest benefit you have received from the program?

The greatest benefit I got was the networking, not just meeting your fellow mentees but also the interactions with other mentors. I met a wide variety of people across industries, some mentors are men and they were amazing as well, it was great to see the support from the male mentors in this endeavour.

Another thing I got out of the TFTC program was seeing the success other women have in Defence, and their different leadership and management styles. It gave me a greater sense of what kind of leader and engineer I wanted to be, and showed me the different options outside of my role and where your career can take you.

What did you find the most challenging throughout the process?

You make such strong bonds with the people in your group, and it was really hard saying goodbye to everyone and then not seeing them again due to COVID-19! Especially when some of the participants you meet are interstate so you can’t just pop out for a coffee with them like we did in our face to face quarterly sessions.

Any advice for future mentees on the program?

Even if you don’t click with your mentor straight away, or they’re not what you expected, there will ABSOLUTELY be something you can learn from them. They are there because they want to give back and help the next generation, but they don’t know you – so it’s up to you to engage and find ways to make the relationship work for you.

I found my mentor amazing! But, I definitely got a lot more out of it when I leant forward a bit more and actually came to meetings with the questions and specific stories/examples of issues that I wanted to tackle. Some of the mentees said that their mentors weren’t what they expected, but they pushed through and ended up getting a lot out of it! The ladies who run TFTC know what they’re doing when they pair everyone up.


Looking for more inspiration and guidance on how to get the most out of your TFTC experience? Read on to find out how to get the most out of the TFTC Mentoring Program, or contact our Program Specialist Kat Lezes to share your mentoring journey with the TFTC community