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ARI Mentor Program Takes off at Sydney Olympic Park

Twenty-eight of Australia’s brightest young recreation industry talents are gearing up for a challenge to improve the country’s swimming pools and recreation spaces as part of a new Aquatic and Recreation Institute (ARI) mentoring program supported by Jonas Leisure.

The first ARI Mentor Program was two years in the making. It features a six-month ‘team challenge’ themed around how data can be collected and used, which was announced to the teams by Bryn Whales from Jonas Leisure at Sydney Olympic Park on 17 November.

Jonas Leisure is the Principal Partner for the program, and will assist with guidance for the teams and judging criteria for the challenge, in which seven teams of mentees from aquatic and recreation facilities across New South Wales will participate.

Each team will be guided by a senior industry leader as their mentor. Using data, the teams will work to develop a project to accomplish a goal, solve a problem or create a program improving their facilities in a measurable way. Project plans will be set by the end of December, with teams able to set their own innovative project within a budget cap of $5,000.

Royal Life Saving New South Wales General Manager – Aquatics Matt Griffiths will ‘mentor the mentors’, acting as Program Manager.

The focus was on giving young leaders opportunities to develop leadership skills and connect with relevant expertise, Mr Griffiths said “The mentor launch event went really well. The concept was well received, and there was good attendance. It was the first time the mentors got to meet the mentees, and a lot of ideas started flowing early on.”

Attendees at the ARI Mentor Program launch.

Mr Griffiths said Jonas Leisure was an ideal partner for the first mentoring program because of its expertise in handling leisure industry data.

“Jonas Leisure is a great partner. It has been a strong and long-standing supporter of ARI and shown exemplary commitment to the industry. Their team has also demonstrated the value of mentoring and developing employees, so there’s strong alignment.”

He said roles in the aquatics and recreation industry tended to drift towards technical ‘on the job’ skills, resulting in missed opportunities for junior and mid-level employees to gain high-level experience on facets of their business normally outside their core roles.

The team challenge posed to people taking part in the mentoring program would help build their skills around collecting data and using it to support their organisations in making informed decisions and improvements, he said.

The projects could result in improved efficiency, increased revenue, or even lift participation in demographics that were not usually active in swimming or recreation.

“This first team challenge is about business intelligence and using data to improve facilities in a measurable way. We want to see development of technological and leadership skills that will benefit young professionals, the facilities they work at, and the industry too.”

Mr Griffiths said program participants will present their projects and learnings to the industry in a ‘Project Pitch’ at the next ARI Conference, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Terrigal from 18-19 June 2018. Judging will be performed by an independent jury.

More information on the ARI Mentor Program can be found at the ARI website.

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