Lillian Swider shares her experiences with the HBA mentoring program.
by Lillian Swider
The 2012 mentoring group to which I was privileged to be a mentor was comprised of smart, vibrant and ambitious women looking to make their mark--wrestling with work/life balance issues, unsupportive leadership, transitioning to new jobs and trying to find a career path that links with their values. Our group had long and mid-term goals, from being elected the Governor of NJ to CEO of a company to being a digital media expert specializing in connecting with consumers.
The key to the team's success was how quickly they built trust and cohesion. This occurred due to their willingness to take risks and open up to each other. Their instantaneous direct and open communication and unconditional support began to build strong bonds between the women. They were genuinely interested in one another's success in achievement of their goals. When we began, one mentee was vying for a new job, getting engaged and buying a first home. Another mentee asked for input on whether her current job would allow her to stay on her path. With the team’s encouragement, she found a new position that aligns much more with her goals.
One mentee struggled with unsupportive leadership that did not see the value her cutting edge work was doing for the organization. The field of marketing has many new venues and understanding how to leverage digital and social media is still considered innovative in most companies. This mentee is unfortunately up against a situation that is outside of her control and the group was always willing to listen to her frustration, brainstorm solutions and encourage her to take the risks she needed to take to continue to work towards her goals.
Another mentee, whose goal is to be a CEO, wrestled with life choices such whether or not an MBA is essential, whether to attend graduate school full time or not and how to fit starting a family around all that. While the group can’t take full credit for the eventual outcome—she just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, we might just get a future HBA member out of this.