Mentor Like an Auntie: Dhivia Pillai

Words by Lauren Eddy, Senior Copywriter, Bullfrog.




Like many of us, Dhivia Pillai didn’t expect to land in adland. She ended up here by way of a tutoring job at Melbourne Uni, volunteer copy gigs and side hustles producing festivals.


It was the things she learned from those jobs – the importance of stepping outside herself to connect with people, and the thrill of creative problem-solving – that led her to her first graduate role. Planning was a natural next step for a bookworm who loves telling a good story. And now, with experience at M&C Saatchi and whiteGREY, Dhiv is killing it as a Senior Strategist at TBWA.


Dhiv says it's the mentors she’s had along the way, and her experiences as a WoC, that have helped her shape more nuanced, more impactful work. Dhiv, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your mentors? I’ve been formally mentored by some brilliant men, and informally, by watching the women in leadership around me, particularly PoC who tend to have to work a little harder than most to prove themselves. The women who inspire me hit their career goals by being true to who they are, and pursuing the things they love. If there was a formula for success, that’d be the magic 1-2.


What do you think makes a great mentor? Generosity. By that, I mean the willingness to understand what makes people tick, then do your darndest to tap into that to help them find the success they’re after.


Any tips for Aunties who are new to mentoring? Encourage your mentee to bring themselves to the table, warts and all. It’s not about presenting perfectly. We mentors shouldn’t pretend to, either.

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