Nicky Bryson and Youngbloods launch new cross-industry mentoring initiative to empower and support young talent – The Trenches

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Nicky Bryson and Youngbloods launch new cross-industry mentoring initiative to empower and support young talent – The Trenches

A new cross industry mentoring initiative has formed in a bid to help those facing increased pressure and exposure alongside the effects of a ‘longer deliverables, shorter deadlines, fewer resources, smaller budgets, “evolve or die” culture’.


Spearheaded by former TBWA head of strategy, Nicky Bryson, and developed in consultation and partnership with Youngbloods, The Trenches is the first industry-wide, free and inclusive mentoring initiative aimed to empower and support young talent professionally and personally.

With research conducted via the Youngbloods database revealing that 96% of under 30-year-olds in the industry lack access to mentors or a mentoring program independent of their organisation, The Trenches aims to fill a much-needed gap in the market.

The research revealed the need for independent, objective and honest advice on the difficult to discuss topics from those who had experienced it or can give breadth of industry perspective. The top four things young people find currently most challenging being (1) negotiating pay rises and promotions, (2) maintaining boundaries and saying no (3) mental stress and anxiety, and (4) managing workload and burnout.

After being hospitalised with severe burnout earlier this year Bryson found herself approached by others wanting to share their stories, challenges and journeys, but it was young people in particular who felt fear around where they were now, and where they were going.

Says Bryson: “I believe hearing about others’ experiences and challenges can be a catalyst of change in yourself. Be it general career advice or progression, navigating politics or real personal struggles, nothing is off limits, our mentors have signed up to a vacuum of vulnerability.

“Seeing how leaders have gone through similar situations removes the stigma of guilt and failure or the inertia to empower positive action. This is why The Trenches is about experience sharing as much as advice giving,”

The Trenches is available for anyone in the media, creative, marketing, consulting or technology sectors, with over 50 big name mentors already signed up across Sydney and Melbourne. There are no age barriers, and mentees gain access to up to 5 mentors over a 6-8 month period.

Says Bryson: “We often get siloed in our bubbles and there is a lot to learn from the different perspectives and disciplines across the industry. Maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side, maybe it is. Our research showed a hunger for a less competitive, more collaborative industry. We have a tiny hope that by opening up access to a broader view, particularly for the next-generation of leaders, we could make some movement toward this.”

Says Matt Gardener, national chairman for Youngbloods: “A key focus for us this year is to encourage our peers to be more honest and vulnerable with themselves and each other in order to create a more open and empowered industry. The Trenches is a massive step towards this.

“This program will reduce the barriers in genuinely connecting, being vulnerable and feeling comfortable in discussing the topics that affect us – resulting in a healthier, happier, stronger industry. We hope that breaking down these existing silos and internal feedback loops will also result in a bit of industry cross pollination and stimulate growth or at the very least more expansive thinking.”

For more information or to sign up visit

If you would like to become a mentor, sponsor, or for other enquiries, please email

(Pictured L-R: Nicky Bryson, founder, The Trenches and Isabella Rigg, co-chair NSW Youngbloods)

The Trenches mentors include (in no particular order):

Anshika Grover, Director, Product development and transformation, Optus
Nicole Bardsley, Head of Brand and Strategy, Westpac
Ian Edwards, Managing Director, Wavemaker
Adam Slattery, Head of Brand and Communications, Vodafone
Paul Everson Marketing and Advertising Executive
Chiquita King, Founder & Managing Director, Cocoa Coffee Gunpowder
TC Miles, Director CMO Advisory, PwC
Jane King, Group Director of Marketing, Val Morgan
Anthony Dever, Editor and Researcher, Fanbloodytastic
Brooke Tierney, Founder, The Sister Consulting
Henry Innis, CSO / Founder, Mutiny
Mike McKeown, Managing Director, Shareablee Inc APAC
Alex Conomos, Senior Marketing Manager, Audible, Amazon
Mitch Parkins, Founder, Nanna’s Little Secret
Alex Light, Head of Brand Partnerships, VIRTUE
Jane Merrick, General Manager Marketing & Distribution, World Nomads
Myriam Conrie, Director of Marketing, Sofitel
Paul Den, Partner & Co-Founder at Banter
Anna College, Agency Director, Ikon
Ali Tilling, Chief Strategy Officer, VMLY&R
Tracy Hall, Marketing Director, Go Daddy
Genevieve Reynolds, Manager, CMO Advisory PwC
Michaela Futcher, Head of Strategy, The Royals
Yash Gandhi, Head of Marketing, Baiada
Jemma White, Marketing & Communications Manager, MontBlanc
James Boardman, National Strategy Director, Bohemia
Cally Scivetti, Brand Solution Strategist, Google
Paul Connell, GM & Marketing Director, Unilever
Hannah Sturrock, Managing Partner, The Hallway
Lucio Ribeiro, Lucio Ribeiro AI
Martin Cutris, Head of performance agencies, Google
Adam Ross, Content Lead, Coca-Cola
Sarah Murdoch, Global Marketing Director
Kate Smither, Founder, The Tall Planner
Kammeron Cran, Executive Coach, Director, Red Nose
Laura Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer, PASS Technology Group
Carly Du Toit, Marketing & Communications Manager, ACRF
Richard Woods, Group Account Director, Naked/BMF
Sarah Knox, Director, Res Publica
Sean Hall, Founder and Chief Energist, Energex
Katrina White, SMB Strategy, Microsoft
Ben Shepherd, Chief Media Officer, CHE Proximity
Kate Gamble, General Manager – Resolution Media
Sarah Palmer, Head of Talent, Leo Burnett Australia
Susie Bayes, Head of Partnerships & Philanthropy, The Guardian
Evonne Williams, Marketing Manager, Simplot
Kelly Tagalan, Holiday Club Manager, Camp Australia
Joel Pearson, Executive Strategy Director, RGA
Renee Garner, COO RevTech Media
Amy Lee-Hopkins, Head of Marketing, Southern Queensland Anglicare
Justin Carew, Creative Director, McCann
Iggy Rodriguez, Creative Director, McCann
Melissa Webber, Founder & MD, Holy Cow Creative
Cameron Brown, Senior Copywriter, McCann

Nicky Bryson and Youngbloods launch new cross-industry mentoring initiative to empower and support young talent – The Trenches