"The only thing you need to do — the only thing I want you to do — is to make sure that you take the time to help others the way I helped you."
That was a great message, one that came my way during one of my very first jobs. I was with Conference USA, and my boss was a wonderful woman named Brenda Weare. During our stretch together, Brenda dedicated time to ensuring that I learned every part of the business.
When I left that job, I tried to thank her for everything she had done, and it was then that she made her request, encouraging me to give back in a similar way. Brenda passed away two years ago, but up until then, she was someone I could call to bounce ideas off of, someone I could count on for guidance.
Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have some very outstanding mentors, and it was the idea of mentoring that really struck me during my first-ever WISE event, a luncheon of the Atlanta chapter. I was not yet a member.
As I scanned the room of seasoned veterans and young professionals, I thought about how Brenda and others had guided me — and continue to today — and embraced my responsibility to help grow the future of our women leaders in sports. I was excited to become a mentor, so much so that I actually signed up to be a mentor before I even joined the organization.
Two years in, I am grateful for the experience.
I have had the privilege of mentoring two young women. Over monthly lunches, we talked about office politics and career growth, including the challenges associated with transitioning into management. I advised on résumés, and we hashed out job opportunities as they came up. Was it a bad day at work, or truly time to move on?
I sought to create a comfort zone in which my mentees could approach me with any topic free from judgment. In doing so, our meetings took on a conversational tone, and I benefited from the discussions as much as they did. I was invigorated. The eagerness with which they approached the industry and their willingness to learn was refreshing, a reminder of the importance of new knowledge and growth, even for established professionals.
I was recently named to the chapter board, and while, as chair of the mentor program, I will not be taking on a new mentee this year, I will be overseeing the pairing of mentors and mentees and addressing participant questions and suggestions. I get to be the "Mama Mentor" of the group, so to speak, and I am excited.
For those considering mentoring, I say this: If you can make the time, it is a great opportunity to see the spark in the eyes of the people moving up in this industry. And anything you can do to help them, you feel better for it.