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MADC 'The Aunties' Launches With Mentoring Program for Women

Introducing The Aunties, a new program that aims to inspire, protect, connect and champion women of all ages and backgrounds across Melbourne's creative industries, through tailored mentorships, seminars and networking opportunities. The program is the brainchild of Phoebe Sloane, Creative at Special Group and brought to life by the eleven women of the Melbourne Advertising and Design Club (MADC) committee.

The name pays tribute to and is inspired by legendary advertising mentor, Esther Clerehan, who often refers to herself as an “auntie” to the countless number of women she’s mentored over the years.

Sloane says, “If The Aunties can represent a fraction of the tireless generosity and support Esther has given the women of our industry, we’ll have done something right. Like Esther, there’s a warmth and cheekiness to The Aunties, we’re a welcoming bunch, but there’s also a protective and caring side too.”

Sarah McGregor, ECD at Communicado says, “Between ourselves and MADC’s agency partners, we’re able to tap into an incredible and expansive network. We will reach and connect women of all levels across creative, production, client management, strategy and PR to learn, support and grow.”

The Aunties is for industry women at all stages of their careers and lives. Offering mentorships to women entering the industry, levelling up those in mid-senior roles, a ‘future founders/leaders’ category that will connect women at an executive level and for the first time, matching up mums with other mums.

Become a mentee

To kick off, the program is currently looking for Melbourne-based women with less than three years’ experience or recent University and AWARD School graduates entering the industry, to be part of the first mentorship program. Categories include creative, production, client management, strategy, PR and social. Mentees will be paired up with an Auntie from their preferred discipline to undergo a one-on-one mentorship, which involves a monthly catch up over a six month period.

Sloane says, “We want to give young women entering the industry as much support as possible right now. Due to Covid, they’ve missed out on opportunities to build their networks and they’re vulnerable in many ways. We hope that by having an Auntie, they’ll have an objective person they can confide in and establish a deeper connection with.”

Following this, in early 2022, the next phase of the mentorship program will prioritise connecting new mothers with other mothers who have gone through similar experiences re-entering the workforce.

Sarah McGregor, ECD at Communicado says, “Heading back to the agency can be a daunting prospect for many new mums after the birth of their child; so we want to help aid this transition by pairing them with someone who’s been there and done that. We believe that by supporting mothers returning to work, we’ll end up with more experienced, senior women to fill executive roles.”

Beyond the mentorship program, The Aunties will be running a series of events next year that will cover topics relevant to women. From exploring broad themes like confidence to specific conversations around signing NDAs, there’s plans to host some big names for some big conversations, as well providing opportunities for women to network and enjoy a long-awaited catch up.

Huei Yin Wong, Senior Art Director, “Some pretty amazing things happen when women talk, and The Aunties are here to facilitate these chats. From the depressingly universal—like sexual harassment—to the more practical like knowing your worth. It’s a wild industry and women need to help each other out.

Matt Lawson, Co-President of MADC says, “We love how the Aunties is now part of the MADC family, but do see it as something Melbourne shouldn’t keep to itself, so we have ambitions to expand interstate and of course, eventually have a few international Aunties too.”

For future programs and events, follow @theaunties_gram.

If you’d like an Auntie, apply here, applications close 5pm 12/11.


Phoebe Sloane, Special

Sarah McGregor, Communicado

Huei Yin Wong, Clemenger BBDO

Nat Taylor, Sherpa

Lauren Eddy, Bullfrog

Katarina Matic, Bullfrog

Jess van Roosendaal, Fin Design + Effects

Edwina Gilbert, Filmgraphics

Polly McGregor, Bang Bang Studios

Regina Stroombergen, Thinkerbell

Robyn Bergmann, VMLY&R

Romanca Mundrea, The Monkeys, part of Accenture Interactive


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