PWI Brussels: The Mentor's Journey

PWI Brussels Mentoring program was founded in 2011 and has always adopted a women only policy. Still going strong, in 2019-2020, the network decided at it's 2019 AGM, to open the program to any male mentees (who were staff within PWI Brussels corporate partner organisations). 

This article is a transcript of an interview between PWI Brussels President, Anaida Dibra and Dr. Madeleine de Hauke, Founder and CEO Business4Good and Mentor for the PWI Brussels Mentoring Wave 2019-2020. 

Anaida: Thank you Madeleine for being one of our amazing Mentors and for being with me.

Dr Madeleine: My pleasure, thank you for having me.

Anaida: How would you describe this mentoring experience with PWI Brussels?

Dr Madeleine: For me, the experience started at the moment I received the first mail as a member of PWI Brussels, asking whether I would consider becoming a mentor.

I am a coach, but I never mentored and when you learn about coaching you learn very early on that there is a big difference between mentoring and coaching. At that moment I found I was at a stage where I had always wished I had a mentor. This was an opportunity for me too. The way that PWI managed the process was very friendly, very relaxed. They shared a lot of resources, also the volunteers who got the training shared with us what they had learned. I did not feel like I was lost or incapable of doing it.

During our lovely, in-person kick-off event I remember that we were facing a problem with the electricity, we could not fix it. There was only one man in the room, and he flipped a switch and it was all alright. That was so funny. He really embraced his feminine and masculine side, he felt like a whole person!

I was honoured my mentee chose me. It was like a holistic integral experience. He came with a specific request, something he was struggling with in his professional life. He was seeking out help but so many more things came in, and so the way that PWI matched us just seemed so perfectly right.

I have had numerous jobs in the past and so we would just be able to meet his need.

In one of our first sessions, we discussed the importance of language and we exchanged what each of us understood by the terms "mentoring" and "training". Laying this foundation made sure that we would know which we should use at any given moment. We did that in a café. 

It was phenomenal to see him progress, in the challenge he had set himself, he was so determined.

Everything I offered him, he seized and tried out and practised. The next time we saw each other he would keep me up to date as to what had happened, it was wonderful to see another human being going forward on his own path. It is a huge gift for a mentor to be part of that process.

I really believe it is great how PWI manages this program, it’s such an opportunity for people to grow.

Anaida: What do you wish you had known before taking this mentorship engagement?

Dr Madeleine:  I think the beauty of the whole thing was that I did not know and did not want to know. I always felt completely supported and safe within the PWI mentoring procedure. Any question I had I could just send an email or connect and get an answer. It was quite lovely and very professional. I guess I wish I would have known that even though I hadn’t been a mentor before, it was fine. 

So if anybody is considering whether to do this, I would recommend to do it.

Prior to starting I wondered how much time this mentoring experience was going to take up? Gues what, it does not take too much of your time because you know upfront what the commitment is that you were going to give to the mentoring program. And you are supported. If you have not done it before it is ok, you will get there. If I had known that in advance, it would have been easier to make the decision to join earlier. 

Anaida: What advice or practices were most appreciated, resonated the most with your mentee?

Dr Madeleine:   For him, I think it was the fact that he came with a specific problem in his professional life and he learned to move past it. But along with that, because he had so many different interests in his work and his personal life, what was most beautiful for this match, was the multidisciplinary approach of our conversations. I come from many different angles, experience wise, and in our conversations, we tackled the one specific thing that brought him to the mentoring program but also, what lay underneath. At the same time, in the same conversation.


Anaida: What is the most important leadership lesson that you learned for yourself during this mentoring experience?

Dr Madeleine:   Confirmation of the incredible power of a human being, who once they identify what they want, they decide to address it and grow, share it with someone they can talk openly to and move forward.

Finding out the need, articulating that, and holding the space for them to be able to do it, it’s a wonderful experience. It’s huge what he achieved in a short time and he will continue to do that.

Anaida: Would you have seen a difference mentoring a man or a woman?

Dr Madeleine:   I have quite a lot of masculine energy in me. I do get quite a few men as clients; I don’t know if it’s my energy or not. But I help a lot of women step into their own power and show up as women. 

Anaida: Do you have anything else to share with our readers?

Dr Madeleine:   The reason why I joined PWI Brussels is because of the place it gives to equality. The world is whole and you need both men and women, giving women a safe space to grow and succeed and also engaging men in creating a better world for both. It’s a wonderful thing that PWI offers so openly this mentoring program. In this experience both the mentor and the mentee grow a lot. If anyone is thinking about being a mentor or mentee, I can say this is just great. And you can never be sorry that you tried. If it does not work, then you just find a new mentee or mentor. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain

I’d be honored and happy to do this experience over again.

Anaida: Thank you Dr. Madeleine de Hauke for this interview!

Interested in finding out more about the PWI Brussels Mentoring Program? 

Please visit to find out more about the 2020-2021 mentoring wave that will be starting soon.


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