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On opening doors and options

Paulette Elliott of KPMG stepped up to become a First Foundation mentor two years ago. She is passionate about the agri-food sector, as manager with KPMG Propagate and a supporter of more sustainable outcomes.  She’s been able to share her passion for the environment with Jess and with the aim to help smooth the way to a sound future. 

Paulette Elliot, First Foundation mentor

Mentors each have something unique to give

Paulette says she wanted to mentor so she could help young people succeed.

“It’s positive and refreshing to spend time with someone who is so motivated and has so much potential. It’s rewarding to think you can smooth their journey,” says Paulette.

She and Jess were both new to mentoring, but they still found the best way to make it work, despite the challenges of Covid.

“It’s been challenging because we haven’t had all the group activities that usually happen as part of the programme. However, we did have breakfast with other mentors in Christchurch and spending that time together was great.”

Covid meant that Jess had to overcome a few additional hurdles during the academic year, but Paulette was ready to support where she could.

“Jess had to rush home for lockdown, of course. I focused on keeping an eye on where she was at and ensuring she was practically safe. Jess is capable, so I’ve enjoyed mostly being a sounding board.

Paulette is impressed at Jess’s resilience and that of all students who have studied through the pandemic.

“She’s had a lot of learning online; exams are online, which creates additional stress and lots of set-up. Group work has different dynamics online and can be hard at a distance. She’s kept her grades high, and that’s commendable”.


Introductions open doors to further benefit

The pair share a passion for sustainability in business, and Paulette has helped Jess learn more about the types of roles she could pursue. 

Paulette quickly recognised that it’s hard to focus on building a particular career when you haven’t really been exposed to it. Helping young people broaden their choices in this way is one of the most powerful parts of the First Foundation scholarship.

Paulette says, “I wanted to introduce Jess to key people at KPMG with an environmental focus so she could see potential pathways. I shared her CV so we could connect her with the most relevant people to talk to.”

“They loved the idea and could see the huge potential she held. We met online, and it was affirming for everyone!“


Our organisations gain equal advantage

Paulette was proud to introduce Jess and says she’s incredibly smart and a hard worker. Those are characteristics that are valuable to any employer and especially when competition for talent is growing exponentially.

“She’s focused on how she can contribute in the environmental space and at a management level. There’s a huge need in New Zealand for people who understand how to navigate environmental challenges. She’s an advocate, ambassador, and role model.”

Paulette encourages organisations to make the most of the way First Foundation connects to a new generation. 

“From a business perspective, getting behind this initiative gives you early access to talented young people. This is more valuable than ever for any organisation that’s considering succession.”

Supporting First Foundation and its scholars with a combination of mentoring and partnership helps identify people who are engaged and aligned with your mission.”

Paulette says there’s benefit for individuals in organisations too, and encourages others to find out how they can help offer someone a hand up through First Foundation.

“It’s a great experience. It’s incredibly uplifting!”