I've participated in executive mentorship programs in the past with varying degrees of success. Mentor programs can be especially beneficial for women, even more so in specific industries (aerospace, manufacturing, engineering, etc.). Having a mentor can mean having a support system, a knowledge base, a professional advisor, or even sometimes just a trusted friend.
Mentors can see sides of us that we cannot, and can help us to find ways to stimulate our personal and professional growth.
I read an article recently on Forbes titled, Five things to Look for in a Mentor by Erika Anderson. According to Anderson, these five traits include:
Self-reflection is the capacity to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about ones fundamental purpose. It's what distinguishes man above all other animals - his ability to rationalize and look inside. Self-reflection is also a key attribute of a good leader.
I look for a mentor who can not only tell me what they have done, but why they have done it.
Those seeking mentorship need to be assured that they can trust their mentor, and that discussions won't go beyond closed doors. Trust is a necessary precursor for: feeling able to rely on a person, cooperating with a group, and taking thoughtful risks.
If I'm going to be brave enough to ask my mentor for advice, they need to be brave enough to give me an honest answer.
This one really hits home with me, as a good mentor is not just curious about their mentee, but also curious about life. I don't just want my mentor to know how I'm wired, what's important to me, what I've done so far, etc., in order to give me useful advice. I also want my mentor to have a curiosity for life. Curious people are typically considered to be good listeners and are constantly working to keep their brain active. They are also observant of new ideas, which can bring about new excitements to life.
And last, a Generosity of Spirit.
Per Anderson, this is the most essential trait, and I agree wholeheartedly. A great mentor wants to see their mentee succeed, and they actively support you through both their words and their actions. They offer resources and connections, and work to be useful in any way they can. And last, they believe in their mentees, and see their potential.
While reading these five traits, I am continuously reminded of a person I met several years ago while working at Honeywell Aerospace, who happened to become both an unofficial mentor and friend.
My mentor: Alfredo Donjuan
I met Alfredo Donjuan after being assigned to the Honeywell Aerospace Core Customer Team supporting American Airlines. Alfredo led the group as Customer Business Manager (CBM). At the time, a Core Customer Team (CCT) CBM was accountable for all aspects of strategic planning and marketing for a specific airline.
Alfredo developed road maps, set business priorities, wrote strategic initiatives, and ensured the team executed on these plans. He also worked with the product leaders to influence the product portfolio and product offering, and coached the other members of his CCT, all in efforts to drive growth. And he did this well; Alfredo was recognized for his performance at a global sales conference in Phoenix. After several weeks of online meetings and phone calls, this conference was the first time I met Alfredo face-to-face. I think the fact that I remember this day specifically can speak volumes to the impact Alfredo has had on my career.
Alfredo has selflessly provided me with years of mentorship; openly offering information and sharing his knowledge. He sees potential in me where I cannot. He motivates me to grow, both personally and professionally, and he encourages me when I need it the most. He's also so graciously acted as a sounding board, giving me an outlet to bounce my ideas off of from time to time (sometimes perhaps too frequently, thanks Alfredo), and he has grown into my professional trusted advisor, my go-to for advice.
And last, he has so generously played a dual role of both teacher and connector, providing me with introductions and access to folks in our industry to help me navigate through my path to success. I am ever-grateful that I have such an influential mentor who I now can also call a friend.
I feel fortunate enough to have had this experience, and I am now in a position to return the favor. Perhaps you, or someone you know is new to Additive or Aerospace, or just looking for a mentor in general. I'd love the opportunity to pay it forward by sharing what I've learned with others. In my opinion, it's one of the most important keys to success.
What experiences have you had with a mentor? And what additional advice would you suggest to look for when choosing a good one?
As always, I welcome any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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