An unlikely mentor match: Soumya Indurti and Hamish Litt

Tech start-upper Soumya Indurti may not have seemed like an obvious mentor for Bachelor of Arts Philosophy and Psychology student Hamish Litt, but the unlikely pair have hit it off.

By Sarah Hall

Soumya, an alumna of the Master of Publishing and Communications, worked for Google before founding Connect Labs - a content-focused digital marketing company - four years ago. Hamish is a keen writer now in the second year of his Bachelor of Arts (BA). Below the pair speak about how they met through the Mentoring at Melbourne program and where the mentorship has led them.

Hamish: I almost didn't apply for the Mentoring at Melbourne program - I'd never heard of it before and none of my friends were doing it. But I decided to complete the application, which essentially involved describing my hobbies, the degree I’m doing and what vague plans I had for the future. I wrote about being interested in entrepreneurship, writing and my BA.

Soumya: I got a text message saying, "You've been matched". I looked at it and was surprised to read I'd been matched with Hamish, a philosophy and psychology student. I thought, "I don't know if I'm actually going to be of any help to this person."

H: Initially when I saw I’d been matched with Soumya and it came up she was in digital marketing, I wasn't really sure how it would all fit together. Then I saw that she was a Publishing and Comms grad who now runs a start-up, and it started to make a bit more sense.

S: The first time we actually met was at the mentoring event put on in Arts West. It was a really nice event, and we found each other quite easily. Someone came over and introduced us, and when we got talking it was completely different to what I had in my mind.

H: I explained that the thing that interested me the most was understanding how people worked and understanding some of the processes involved with starting a business from the ground up.

An unlikely mentor match

Soumya Indurti and Hamish Litt at Connect Labs. Photo by Sarah Hall.

S: We got talking about being interested in tech, artificial intelligence, and how best to work with people. Then it just clicked, because I love all that stuff too.

We were connecting well and even though I’d had hesitations about how much I’d be able to offer him in terms of guidance, I figured I could at least show him what work life is like, how I went about starting a start-up and help him with whatever he might need to know about figuring out his next steps.

H: And I was interested in what Soumya was doing with putting technology and content together.

S: We came to the arrangement that Hamish could just come in to the office, sit around and ask me questions all day, rather than mentoring him separately. So he came in as a kind of intern.

H: I think that was a really good way to do it.

Pretty soon I was learning about the software and all the tools used by Connect Labs. I did a few videos, started doing blog posts, got myself set up on the website. I got to do an interesting array of jobs, crossing over a few different interests with writing and tech, all the time getting to ask Soumya whatever questions I wanted.

From there, it was sort of like, "Okay, we need to have this done for one of our clients – would you like to do it?"

S: I realised instantaneously that Hamish was a very good fit for us. He has a great work ethic, he is really good with people and he is able to be his authentic self in meetings and tell people what he really thinks. It just made sense for me to offer him a job.

H: I think a lot of Arts students have this nightmare about graduating and then wandering around the city, just asking random people for jobs. It's been pretty cool to learn about how Soumya made such a seamless transition from Arts into the workforce. It's been a bit of a demystifying experience.

The skills I have acquired through the BA have definitely helped me in the workplace too. My Philosophy major has helped me develop an enormous capacity for abstract thinking and the disentanglement of arguments, preferences, beliefs and opinions, which is incredibly handy in the workplace. My other major, Psychology, has helped me understand the mechanisms of the human brain and how people interact with one another.

In general, Arts at the University of Melbourne makes you very aware of your place, your privilege, and your responsibility to act in an inclusive, non-discriminatory manner to anyone and everyone.

I wasn't expecting to get a job out of meeting Soumya, and it would have been great even if I didn't. I suppose that's just been a bonus! It has definitely worked out, and in unexpected ways.

Banner image: Mentor Soumya Indurti and Bachelor of Arts student Hamish Litt. Photo by Sarah Hall.