I found some time recently to catch up with Industry Mentor and Vice President, Premium Guest, The Star Gold Coast, Dean Wignall and his mentee, Maki Tomita, a recent Bachelor of International Tourism and Hotel Management graduate who majored in Hospitality Management and Marketing. Their connection illustrates the transformative power a mentor can have in supporting students to transition from classroom to career.
Dean Wignall credits his success in the hospitality industry to the support of informal mentors and has a sincere desire to give back and guide emerging talent. His wealth of knowledge and experience make him an invaluable sounding board for young professionals like Maki, who began her studies during Covid with an aspiration to have a career in the Tourism and Hospitality industry. Maki, a mature-aged student with previous career experience in retail and the airline industry, was keen to join the IMP (Industry Mentoring Program) but even she could not have predicted the impact this would have on her career. The opportunity to connect with Dean, who had already navigated his way from an entry-level role to senior management, provided her with unparalleled guidance, insight, and a long-lasting friendship.
With Dean in her corner, Maki’s journey took a significant leap forward when she came across a job advertisement for the role of Sales and Marketing Coordinator at the newly opened Dorsett Gold Coast hotel. Maki shared how Dean’s unwavering support and advice played a pivotal role in helping her to feel confident enough to apply for a job that she initially thought was out of her reach. Dean’s mentorship went above and beyond, as he helped to extend Maki’s professional network, guided her through interview preparation, and offered practical career advice.
During our conversation, it was evident that this mentoring partnership will continue long after the end of the defined mentoring term. They catch up regularly now that they share the same office address and Dean continues to introduce Maki to key contacts within the industry – people Maki says that she would never have access to if it was not for her connection with Dean. Maki expressed her gratitude for Dean’s guidance and support but also acknowledged that this connection was only made possible through the Griffith Industry Mentoring Program.
Dean and Maki’s enthusiasm for the Program was evident as they discussed its long-lasting impact on them both. Dean emphasised how much he enjoys being involved in the IMP and that he continues to connect with many of his former mentees since joining in 2016. Maki shared how the Program not only helped her develop her career, but as an online student during Covid, being involved also gave her a much-needed sense of connectedness with Griffith during a time of isolation.
As the meeting drew to a close, it was clear that this story exemplifies the power and potential of mentoring in shaping the futures of emerging professionals.
For more information please contact:
Industry Mentoring Coordinator, Student Success, Griffith University
Phone: +61 7 5678 0573
Mobile: 0449 618 616
Email: [email protected]
Program Email: [email protected]