Atlanta mentoring program chair Grace Gowda shares insights on mentoring

The HBA Atlanta chapter celebrated the inspiring accomplishments of all the mentees and mentors of this year, from various professions and organizations on November 15, 2012 at the City Club of Buckhead. Following the celebration, chapter members, Gaby Denning, Katherine Paddrik and Durgalaxmi Ramachandhiramani had the privilege of holding a Q&A session with seasoned mentorGrace GowdaHBA Atlanta director at large of the mentoring program and the head of governmental and strategic affairs, global regulatory affairs, at Merial Limited. Having been at the helm of the program for two years, Grace unveiled the importance of mentoring for professional development and shared, based on her experience, some successful strategies for effective mentoring.


Please see the insights from their discussion below.


Based on the collective experience of the group, what would be your key selling points in your value proposition for joining the HBA Atlanta mentoring program?

Grace attributed the uniqueness of the mentoring program to having mentors as mentors for the rest of your life. She believes that the compassion of women to help and develop each other andapproaching mentoring in an unstructured and open-ended way are the key assets of the HBA Atlanta programAnd, she discussed that the program is best suited for people who are willing to learn, grow and give back the learning at all stages of their career.  


What are some of the factors that have contributed to the success of this mentoring program?

Grace cheerfully acclaimed that the success of the program has been contingent on the passion and enthusiasm of the women at HBA Atlanta to constantly develop themselves, while also developing others. It is through this commitment that the program has evolved into an inspirational community of women with a common mission. This close-knit community has become pivotal in the development of the HBA mentoring program over the years.


What are the phases in which feedback is critical? How did you ensure that the feedback was taken by the mentees in the right spirit?

Grace candidly remarked that feedback was a tricky subject. She mentioned that feedback could only be given after developing a trusted relationship with a person. She added that while it is critical to give honest feedback it is equally important to ensure the receiver is receptive. Grace mentioned that she would always over-explain herself while giving constructive feedback, to ensure that the mentees understand the advice and subsequently succeed in improving themselves.


Can you elaborate on how you would build trust with your mentees?

Grace remarked that honesty and humility paved the way for trust with a mentee. By admitting your own mistakes, it creates a broader connection and level of comfort in that you have been in the same place as them in your career and was able to work through challenges to attain success.


Can you share some examples of how this program has enabled mentees to develop some of their strengths for personal advancement?

Grace recalled the accomplishments of a previous mentee from UCB, Inc. who used the HBA Atlanta mentoring program wisely to switch gears in her career. The confidence that the mentee gained from her peers and mentors through the program was instrumental in her advancing to the next step in her career ladder. It was just one example of a tangible result from the program, and it was noteworthy in that the mentee was rewarded for incorporating her learning from the program into a promotion and position in a different department of her organization .Additionally, her story was featured in a New York Times op-ed piece in January 2010.


Can you elaborate on the scope for improving the program? What would be some of your suggestions for the 2013 program?

Grace spoke about the necessary components for success of the mentoring program. First and foremost, a good framework and mentoring committee are instrumental in driving the program. It is important to nurture volunteers, meaning both mentors and mentees, and utilize them to improve upon the program by offering feedback. Within the mentoring groups, Grace believes a 2:1 ratio when possible is most effective because each person has the opportunity to both speak and actively listen. This group size creates an environment with open dialogue and individual guidance. In essence, she says. “The more you talk, the more you learn.


HBA Atlanta would like to extend its warm thanks to Grace for sharing her mentoring experience with the group and her tireless commitment to the program for the last two plus years. It was a great evening for celebrating and sharing the joy of mentoring and being mentored, and the chapter is looking forward to the enrollment of even more mentors and motivated mentees for the upcoming year of 2013.


For more information, contact Lynn Duran, 2013 HBA Atlanta Director at Large of the Mentoring Program, at The mentoring program kick-off will be on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at UCB, Inc. Additional details and registration will be posted on soon.

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