Konstantinos Georgaras, CEO of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), and Vivienne Elke Katijuongua, CEO of the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), Namibia, were paired as mentor and mentee in the CIPO-WIPO Executive Workshop. This annual program aids senior officials in developing management techniques that support delivery of IP services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, what had initially been a weeklong in-person program evolved into a 13-week remote mentorship program.
The CIPO-BIPA team participated during the pandemic and the extended length of the program allowed them to form a “buddy system” that has endured long after the program ended. As Katijuongua said, "If you are open-minded, you embrace others and you can learn from them. When you share what you learn and allow others to go through similar experiences, there’s continuous learning that goes beyond any program."
The CIPO-BIPA team focused on developing an IP strategy for BIPA, and as the two CEOs collaborated, Katijuongua routinely shared what she learned with her staff—expanding the reach of her gained insights. This empowered the BIPA team to play a role in bringing the vision of the IP strategy to life.
Katijuongua and Georgaras worked together to build trust, which allowed them to discuss other business-related challenges outside of the scope of their proposal. "While it may seem Canada and Namibia don’t have much in common, through our work together we found out how alike we really are and it's turned into a great collaboration that continues today," remarked Georgaras.
Watch their discussion on the transformative mentoring experience—and its lasting impact—at the March 2023 Women in IP: Meeting on Mentoring and Related Topics.
Georgaras and Katijuongua’s story was an inspiration for the Global Mentoring Pilot, which will also remotely pair employees of different IPOs.
Several ways the Global Mentoring Pilot differs from the CIPO-WIPO model are:
- Participants: We will pair interested staff across IPOs, instead of focusing on leaders of developing countries.
- Duration: The Global Mentoring Pilot will be eight months in duration instead of 13 weeks, which will ensure substantial time for frequent one-on-one sessions, virtual trainings, lectures, workshops, and brainstorming sessions.
- Technology: A third-party iterative matching platform will be used to pair staff by shared interests, goals, and time zone preferences.
We are excited to see this pilot unfold and thank Katijuongua and Georgaras for their inspiration.