Mentorship is a tried-and-true method of supporting aspirants in any industry. It is especially important for aspirants in an industry who may lack the confidence to put themselves forward, for exciting opportunities their peers are aiming for or even just to speak up about their ideas.
The Bangalore Women’s Mentoring Program began in 2020 with this intention of bolstering the professional confidence of the mentees. It began with connecting female Indian talent in the advertising team with senior female colleagues from different studios across the globe. Mentors and mentees were given basic expectations of the partnership, and the opportunity to see what worked for them. Over the course of the 3 years, over 25 women have benefitted from this program. What did these mentorships offer the participants?
We’d like to share the experiences of four of the mentors and mentees pairs in the group over the next month. Meet Amanda Libotte and Oindrila Mitra first!
We encourage everyone to seek formal and informal mentorships to bring more women into the fold of the VFX and Animation industry.
Talk to us about your role within The Mill.
Amanda: I am the Global Studio Operations Director, working with the Studio Operations teams throughout all The Mill studios for efficient running of each location. We are a “behind-the-scenes” team, critical to the smooth running of the studios, making sure everyone can focus on their jobs.
Oindrila: I am a Production Manager at The Mill in Bangalore. My role focusses on the planning and execution of a project, which includes identifying the right resources, understanding the requirements, and delivering the project within the budget and deadline.
What skills did you find helped you take your first step into the VFX industry?
Amanda: I joined the VFX industry a very long time ago, in fact, as it was just emerging as the global industry it is today. That said, the inherent skills of a strong work ethic, passion, creativity, and an ability to work with a wide spectrum of people are crucial. A good sense of humor is also helpful, especially in high-pressure situations.
Oindrila: I had no experience in VFX before I joined The Mill! But I did have almost 12+ years of experience in live-action production. After working in VFX for the past two years, I have come to realize that when it comes to production, the basics are all the same. Though I was not familiar with the VFX pipeline earlier, my general experience in production enabled me to pick up the workflow very quickly. I am very curious and inquisitive as a person, and learning new things always excites me. I believe this was one of the driving factors for me.
How has the mentorship group impacted you?
Amanda: It has been wonderful to connect with women from across the global network, who I might not necessarily have met without the mentor group. To see colleagues, embrace either being a mentor or a mentee has been an inspiration. The scheme was born through women in Bangalore voicing their desire to develop their skills and the fact that women from all studios were eager to step up and support them. It demonstrates how we can fully support one another if the opportunity is given.
Oindrila: This was a great initiative to connect women across the globe. The mentorship program gave us the opportunity to connect with people from different backgrounds who have achieved their goals. Hearing about their stories, professional journeys and experiences gave us a lot of insight. The program also created a safe place where women can talk freely, and share their throughs, ideas, and challenges without being judged. It is wonderful to have a safe space where you can open on a personal and a professional level with a colleague who has been where you are today. The mentorship program is one of the best things that I’ve seen grow at The Mill. Personally, I have an amazing mentor. I would say that because of Amanda, I am more confident in my role than I was before, and I also have clarity on what my future steps need to be to attain my goals. This program has also made me realize that we all have similar journeys regardless of our geographies.
What do you think is the biggest benefit of mentorship?
Amanda: I think that mentorship not only allows you to learn about the person you are partnering with but also provides the opportunity to reflect about yourself. Listening and sharing thoughts and reflections provides an opportunity to grow as an individual and gives you a chance to revisit areas of your career and achievements that you may have forgotten.
Oindrila: We all have aspirations and ambitions, but it can be challenging to navigate these when you are in a new workspace. It’s great to have a friendly guide in a professional environment who can help you to channel your thoughts in the right direction. “If another person can achieve their goals, I can too,” is a clear take-away emotion. It’s incredibly empowering.
How do you think the inclusive culture at The Mill and Technicolor shapes our workplace?
Amanda: The fact that we were able to set up and maintain a small, informal mentoring initiative, demonstrates the open and inclusive environment at The Mill. If someone wants to develop a program or establish a group, there are plenty of opportunities to do so and these initiatives are welcomed. I think that is a great illustration of the culture throughout The Mill, with ample avenues for building community and professional development.
Oindrila: In today’s world, cultivating an inclusive culture is essential for any organization, and I feel that The Mill is curating this beautifully. If you are good at your job, regardless of your gender, age, or background, The Mill appreciates talent in any shape and form. With respect to the production team, we are a diverse group of people from different cultures, backgrounds and even different professions, who all came together and created a very harmonious working environment.
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