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Mentoring Works

Posted by | 2:05pm on Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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take advantage of mentoring moments – those parking lot or hallway conversations 

I recently took part in a panel discussion on the value of mentoring and its importance for women in business. As part of Johnson & Johnson’s Women Leadership Initiative the event took place at Centocor, a biotechnology company that is a subsidy of Johnson & Johnson, in Horsham, PA.

I was invited to be on the panel because of my involvement with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, I’m the Immediate Past President of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter and serve on the Corporate Board. Before I became the Chapter President, I did the single most important thing any of us can do when preparing to take on a new role: I found my mentors – the past president, other board members, women who had walked down this path and who did it amazingly. Through these relationships,  I was able to get keen insights into leading a  Board of Directors made up of many senior-level women. I am happy to report that during my tenure, I kept the board engaged and motivated and that the chapter reached 1,000 members by September. To top it off, we were honored with the Chapter Excellence Award for 2010. (A big thank you to my mentors for their guidance.)

At the event I shared this anecdote to show how I’ve benefited from mentoring relationships throughout my career, both as a mentee and a mentor. The esteemed panel of senior leaders from different areas within Johnson & Johnson graciously shared their own stories and advice for mentoring.

Biggest Takeaways
When you are a mentor, you usually get more out of the relationship than you put into it. It is so gratifying to offer those key insights that will help somebody succeed. Also, take advantage of mentoring moments – those parking lot or hallway conversations where somebody shares a keen observation with you that will completely change your perspective and can reroute your trajectory. Many of the stories shared were about the informal mentoring relationships that happen organically, not through a formal process.

If you are going to initiate a formal mentoring relationship, here are some tips the panel shared.

For mentees

  • Use a “Board of Directors” mentoring approach. Don’t have only one mentor, you’ll need to get unique perspectives for different areas of your career development.
  • When approaching a senior leader to be your mentor, be sure to share why you chose to ask them. Explain what is it about their career path that you feel will help you.
  • Be sure to set an end time for the formal mentoring relationship – this will set expectations.

For mentors

  • Be authentic with your feedback, even if it might be hard for the mentee to hear
  • Be a good listener
  • Be open to learning from your mentee

Have you ever been a mentor or a mentee? What do you think?

(Image courtesy of Laihiuyeung Ryanne on Flickr.)

About Ciaran Bellwoar

Ciaran brings more than 10 years of interactive experience to her role as Director of Business Development. Before Siren, Ciaran was the Director of Client Relations at I-SITE, a web design and eMarketing firm where she created long-term relationships with mid-sized pharmaceutical companies such as Noven Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma.

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