How did The Magenta Project start?The all-female Team SCA successfully finished the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race with the same credentials as their male compatriots. However, there was a difference in the post-race reaction – their phones weren't ringing once they got back after a testing circumnavigation, but those of the men were. The Magenta Project was created as a network to support female professional development and advancement in performance sailing.
At first the activity was more closely centred on race campaign clinics and the Team Magenta 32 entry in the World Match Tour. But within three yearsour core activity transformed into a mentoring programme. We’ve held six mentoring cycles since 2018 involving 200 women from over 20 different countries.
What is your primary means of support and how has the DAME Awards donation assisted your programme?The Magenta Project is all volunteer based. The funds have enabled us to increase our human resources and helped to provide pay for women who have been supporting the project for many years. We've been able to advance our mentoring programme as a direct result.
We have appointed a mentoring programme lead, Leah Sweet, who is an aspiring offshore athlete. She was mentored by Olympian and offshore sailor Annie Lush in our 2020 cycle. In her new role Leah has been fantastic in helping us connect our global network with our shared mission for women around the world and to really activate our alumni network of mentees. As a result, our volunteer base has grown and we’ve been able to expand with regional branches such as one in the Asia Pacific region, which hosts its own watch parties of our curriculum. Increased support has also provided the time for me to develop additional curricula.
How does the mentoring programme work?Each mentoring programme is delivered as remote learning and support over nine months. We connect women who apply for the programme with experts in fields that match mentees’ career tracks.
Mentees meet with us on Zoom for an hour every month. Our curriculum has been structured to go through the skills that are required to be a professional in the industry right now. As an example, for those pursuing on water careers we’ll involve experts like sailing Olympians, the President of Foiling Week and trainers for racing teams who share their real experiences.
We have a weather and navigation course that we run with navigators in the industry and Olympic trainers join us to share their recommended programmes for physical training and mental agility. The curriculum also covers CVs and personal branding as well as campaigns, sponsorship management and goal setting.
Is the programme expanding in terms of scope and career paths?The majority demand has been for women pursuing offshore sailing careers but our ability to expand has now led us to create niche groups.
This year, a group of three women are focused on OBR (On Board Reporter) media tracks. To support this The Magenta Project has been able to add storyteller Amory Ross and Clipper and Volvo Ocean Race OBR manager Brian Carlin to our team of mentors. They are good examples of several people that that we've brought onboard this year to help expand our reach within STEM fields.
It is good that we have this strong connection with METSTRADE as we grow our support for women who are in marine STEM and shoreside roles. In addition to benefiting from the DAME Award donation we hosted a Careers Workshop at last year’s show in partnership with Future Fibres.
In addition to the above, we also work in the fields of advocacy, safeguarding and integrity and contribute to organisational policymaking for those areas, but the mentoring programme is our core work.
How will you continue to expand your mentoring programme to cover more career pathways?We need more expert volunteers but not all have mentoring experience. To address this, I recently launched a mentor training curriculum that is unique and not sailing specific. It covers goal setting, understanding values and drivers, the art of mentoring, mental strengthening, leadership styles, habits for success, those kinds of core, how to support a developing talent through challenges and things like that.
It's been amazing to have a large group of experts in their fields eagerly logging in and chatting with each other about how to be better mentors.