Let’s go through the different mentors I’ve had and how they have helped me.
The biggest thing I learned from my mentors is that if you want something, tell someone. See this post at how I created my last two positions and the new one I’m working on.
My First Career Mentor
I started at my current company working in the lab and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I knew I wanted to make a bigger impact than just testing. Enter my first mentor …the Global Technology Director of Specialities, Darren…this is the person in charge of ensuring the business is there for the new products we are creating. I didn’t know him before starting this relationship and I didn’t really work with him; he did work in my building though. As I was trying to determine who would be someone good to learn from, I met him at a meeting. As I was new to this and wasn’t sure how to begin a mentor relationship, I did nothing! Luckily, he reached out to me and asked if I wanted to meet to discuss my career. Yes I did!! Haha. The main focus him and I had was deciding where I wanted to go in my career, how to network better, and how to navigate through the sea of men I worked with. It was very helpful to have a man’s perspective on how things look and have someone I could bounce my ideas off of. This really helped build my confidence when I spoke my mind. He always asked me questions I never thought of and really made me think…this also where I learned you don’t have to answer questions immediately. Fast forward four years, and he is now my boss, hence, he could no longer be my mentor.
My Second Career Mentor
My second mentor, whom I had at the same time as the first, is our VP of HR, Jamie. Jamie came to speak to young women in our facility for International’s Women Day. I didn’t know her at the time, but Darren introduced me to her and told her he thought she would be a great mentor for me. Thankfully, she said yes and we have been friends ever since! She was a great mentor because she was a woman who has been very successful in her career. I learned so much from her about keeping my feminine touch, which is something that makes me unique and brings a different perspective than my coworkers. She was also invaluable when I had to deal with personnel issues as I was also a new manager at this time. We used to meet every month or so, and while we don’t meet that often anymore, we still get together multiple times a year.
My Third and First “Official” Career Mentor
My third mentor was an “official” mentor. I filled out a questionnaire for our HR department and they matched me with a mentor they thought would be great for my career. Nate was our SVP of Manufacturing Excellence and we were to meet every month per our program for two years. At that point, we could decide to continue our relationship or not. I am happy to say I still talk to him three years later and we still meet for lunch even after his retirement. He is probably one of my most valuable mentors. He was with me when I got my latest position, which is a HUGE step up! I devised a strategic plan in my position and what I wanted to accomplish in my first 90 days and having his input helped me to see how a seasoned executive looks at a strategic plan. He also taught me that even high achievers don’t always get it right.
Right now I have another “official” mentor, Betty, through our second round of HR mentor relationships. Betty is currently transitioning into a larger role herself, so we’re struggling to find time together. However, she has been great with making connections for me when I run into issues and need some strategic connections.
I also took the advice of Nate and reached out to another female mentor, Faye. For this connection, I reached out to her via email and introduced myself. I let her know Nate spoke very highly of her and suggested we connect and see if we could create a mentor/mentee relationship. Thankfully, the agreed and we have started this relationship. We are very new in our relationship, but again, she has made some strategic connections for me at key meetings already.
As you can see, I have had many mentors with different roles and at different times. I have learned so much from them all and am very thankful for the time they have taken to teach me. I very much look forward to being a mentor to younger professionals as they progress and paying back the generosity I received.
I hope you find a great mentor in your career…I cannot stress enough how helpful they are for growth and confidence building. Check out this post about how to start a mentor relationship and go for it!