by Katrice McCullough, Practice Director, IPMO, Randstad Technologies
As a major staffing and technology solutions company, Randstad Technologies knows the value of teams that reflect diversity. Currently we’re exploring the subject of women in technology from various angles. Women leaders in the company will be writing about issues of importance to them both personally and professionally. We’re starting with the practice of mentoring, which several women see as a good tool to develop leaders in a business.
Mentoring is a way to develop and retain quality leaders, and it is an especially successful tool when looking to develop female leaders within a company. A mentoring program is important if we expect to grow and nurture not only existing female leaders, but new ones too. If a company is serious about growing female leaders, they might consider investing in a mentoring program. The very nature of the relationship speaks to female leaders on a level that many other corporate programs do not. In The Relationship Experience, organizational theorist and leadership expert Richard Daft says, “[Women] tend to be more collaborative and are more concerned with relationship building, inclusiveness, participation and caring.”
Through my own experience with mentoring, I can attest that Daft’s quote is accurate. Mentoring changed my life. I admit that’s a strong statement, but the outcome truly did make a huge difference in my career as a woman in technology and impacted the decisions I have made about my career.
I was chosen by my former employer to participate in a formal mentoring program. It was an investment on their part financially and on my part in time and energy. It was not easy, but it was an honor and well worth everything I put into it.
The process looked something like this:
"Congratulations, you have been chosen to be part of this program. You will be partnered with a senior executive in your immediate geographic area. This person does not work for your company but has a rich experience and work history that will be beneficial to you in your new mentor/mentee relationship. In order to properly match you up with the right type of leader, we need you to submit information about you personally and about your career struggles and goals.
This was the part where I felt I started my soul searching. I wanted to answer all the questions honestly because, after all, I wanted to grow and benefit from this experience. By being transparent and honest, I could hope to really get to the root of what I desired from this program and from my mentor.
The process worked perfectly! I was matched with a wonderful person — a strong female leader who had been in her career for 25 years and was by all measures successful. She and I shared some common traits, and I felt we immediately connected on the phone and then again at lunch a couple of weeks later. Then things began to get more difficult, however, and I began to question the match.
She was tough and gave me difficult assignments. She asked me to look at things in ways I had never done before. She asked me to challenge my current situation in a way that would help me to better define what I wanted out of my role and potentially the next role that I might fill. I had to look past my immediate tasks and past the daily challenges I faced. I had to determine if what I was doing was what I truly wanted to do. Was there something more to what my manager was asking of me? Did I have the courage to have conversations that would take me to the next level?
All the while I had to keep reminding myself that she had nothing to gain and that this whole process was for me! It was for my growth and betterment as an employee and leader. There really were no strings attached. Her motivation was to mentor me, and my motivation was to come out the other side a bit wiser than when I began. So I persevered.
Over that first year we interacted at least monthly, and then as the program was concluding she offered to continue our mentoring relationship even though it would be outside the program. What a wonderful offer! I took her up on it and even today we still meet on occasion. I still check in when things are changing in my career. She is a sounding board and a friend, independent of my job and my management, and is there to help guide my career.
There is nothing more valuable than this type of relationship for women leaders. It’s not easy to find this sort of guidance within your own organization, especially with the glass ceiling still difficult to break through. I encourage any woman leader to find a mentor, either formally through a nationwide program or informally through a professional organization, unless you are fortunate enough to have a program within your own company. It is well worth your time and energy."
Katrice McCullough serves as Practice Director for the Integrated Portfolio Management Office (IPMO) at Randstad Technologies. In this role, she and her team are responsible for project governance and delivery support for the Technology Infrastructure Services (TIS) organization. Katrice brings nearly 20 years of experience leading and directing teams on projects and programs.
About Randstad Technologies: Randstad Technologies has been connecting top companies around the globe with the expert technology talent and solutions that drive their success since 1984. Their deep industry expertise and full-service capabilities — Recruitment, Consulting, Projects and Outsourcing — enable organizations to be agile, productive and ahead in the field with our wide network of specialists and flexible solutions. For more information, visit www.randstadtechnologies.com.