2010 WISE Women of the Year Honoree Roxanne Jones shares her experiences and advice about mentoring. Interview by Allison Creekmore.
What made you decide to participate in the WISE Within mentor program?
I thought it was a great way to mentor professional women. Sometimes mentor programs are specific to younger professionals who are just starting out their career, and I think it's really important to have a mentor relationship throughout your career, even if you're a Vice President.
I was really attracted to the caliber of the mentees in the program, and the fact that you truly are working with professional women. It's important to mentor so we can help each other, because we need each other.
Describe your philosophy about the mentor–mentee relationship.
For me, the most positive mentor–mentee relationship is a learning environment where the mentee goes in with expectations and a schedule, and the mentee should know what she is expecting to accomplish from the mentor. But the mentor should go in as well thinking, I have something to learn too. It's not just the mentor telling the mentee how to solve problems. It's a sharing of learning, with more of the burden on the person who has the most insights and experience. It's a partnership. You really are doing it to help others and give back, so they can continue to grow.
This year's program has just concluded. Can you talk about what happens next after a structured mentor program ends?
The one thing that I did with my mentee is that we both attended the WISE Women of the Year luncheon together, and we celebrated the end of our mentor–mentee relationship. We used that as a closure point of the program, and then we decided to have informal check-ins. We became friends, so we kept communicating. She wanted to see what happened in my career, and I wanted to see what happened in hers.
So I would suggest finding a really cool place to meet and invite your mentee, and have closure after the program is over. It's important to have one final time to talk about the relationship and send them on their way.
You were honored as one of the WISE Women of the Year last year. Can you share a bit about what that meant to you?
It was a huge honor for me because a lot of times we're honored in our own groups, either at our employers or elsewhere, but because WISE represents so many accomplished women, it was one of my proudest moments ever.
What advice would you give to this year's mentees?
Mentees should use all of the resources that they gained during their mentor program. If they met someone one time, or if a mentor gave them contact information, feel free to call them up and act on it. Mentees should continue to keep their mentor in their network. Keep those lines of communication open.
What's the most lasting advice that one of your mentors has given to you?
I would say that my biggest mentor is my mother, and she always said don't let anything stand in the way of what you want.