WLC January 18, 2012 Speaker Series

Mentor/mentee relationships can (and should!) be mutually beneficial

More than 100 women attended the second Women’s Leadership Council Speaker Series event “The Mentor/Mentee Relationship: Navigating for Success." In this edition, the panelists focused on the mentee.

“In a short time, the WLC has developed a strong network. Through that network, we were able to present a diverse panel of women who have worked to establish strong mentor/mentee relationships, sharing experience and knowledge,” said WLC Program/Speaker Series co–chair Joanne Clark, Sisters of Charity Health Systems Vice President of Corporate Affairs and President of the St. Vincent Charity Development Foundation. “This second Speaker Series event accomplished our goal to present the mentee’s perspective of mentor/mentee relationships. We knew the subject matter would interest younger women and were delighted to provide a forum to introduce them to the mission of the WLC and encourage them to join us. Through WLC membership, we offer an opportunity for women to learn, volunteer and network to build their futures and strengthen our community overall.”


Event moderator Andrea Vecchio, host of Good Company Today on WKYC-TV3, led an insightful and informative discussion among a panel comprised of:

  • Fiona Chambers, Office Tax Managing Partner, Deloitte Tax LLP, and  her mentee Victoria Bender, Multistate Tax Services Manager, Deloitte Tax LLP
  • Jenniffer Deckard, President, Fairmount Minerals, Ltd., and her mentee Kristin Lewis, Director of Sustainable Development, Fairmount Minerals, Ltd.
  • Jerry Sue Thornton, PhD, President, Cuyahoga Community College, and her mentee JaNice Marshall, PhD, Executive Director of Success and Innovation, Cuyahoga Community College

On how to find a mentor:

  • Look for someone you admire, someone you aspire to be like; who is a good listener; who shows strong leadership skills and exhibits the characteristics that are important to you.
  • Seek out someone with the capacity to invest time, energy and experience into someone else; who talks with you and about you; who advocates for you and lifts you up to the next level; someone you can celebrate your successes with, and who can help make something positive out of a failure.
  • Opportunities for mentoring are all around us – it doesn’t have to be the traditional mentor/mentee relationships; we can find role models everywhere – in things we read, even a chance encounter with a stranger.

On what is important in a mentor/mentee relationship:

  • Show mutual respect; be respectful of each other’s time – make sure things are working out on both sides; be a giver, not just a taker; keep each other’s best interests at heart; work together.
  • Connect on a professional and personal level; share information about what you want. During panel introductions, each mentor introduced their mentee and vice versa. They were all able to easily share insights into both the professional and personal lives, hopes and goals of the other.
  • Listen; be willing and open to ideas that may be different from your own; allow others to provide leadership and coaching.
  • Fit is important in any relationship; it’s important to have shared values, goals and interests; the relationship should be mutually beneficial.
  • Realization that this is a two way growth experience, a shared journey; not a one directional route.

On what they’ve learned or received from their mentor/mentee relationships:

  • Be willing to give (and take) criticism in a positive way; be kind, understanding.
  • Female mentors can help you realize that you can have life/work balance; that you can have a career and a family; that as women, we need to support and bring each other up as much as we can.
  • Career advice and guidance help open doors that may otherwise have been closed, help with the creation of a career path.
  • The importance of giving back, within your organization and your community.
  • It’s OK to have more than one mentor, as different people are able to help in different areas and during different times of life.

Karen KirshComments from an event attendee:
Karen Kirsh, FirstEnergy external affairs manager, came to the WLC Speaker Series event as she was recently asked by a colleague to mentor a young woman she doesn’t know very well. Never having been a mentor, Karen wanted to know what she could do to begin what would become a mutually beneficial mentor/mentee relationship.

“The panel discussion was so helpful, and gave me good insight into the mentor/mentee relationship,” said Karen. “During the Q & A session, when I asked specifically how to get started, the suggestion that both myself and my mentee actually put in writing what we both hope  to achieve from this relationship made perfect sense, and will allow us to create a roadmap for moving the relationship forward.”