Blog > September 2020 > Career Mentors Matter—Especially for Women

Career Mentors Matter—Especially for Women

We always remember our first mentor, and for me, it was a senior-level executive at IBM. I was less than a year into my career at the company, and this executive—now retired—made a point of sitting next to me in an old-fashioned (but still happening to this day, I’m sure) launch meeting.

Yes, you all know what I’m talking about….

The meeting table was huge, and tensions were high. I had yet to see anyone taken outside and beaten for reporting bad news that would delay a launch date, but I always had my suspicions—and I never wanted to be that person.

My mentor was a fierce woman, and at first, I was intimidated when she came into the room and sat next to me. I was by far one of the most junior people in the room, but I immediately felt the reassuring solidarity of being among the few women present.

During that meeting, she leaned toward me and asked me what I thought of the guy who was presenting. I thought it was a trick question and tried to think of a smart answer. My genius brain came up with, “He is very confident and calm.” (Yes, that was the best I could do.)

I cringed as soon as I said it, but I was so happy when she replied, “Exactly. But now listen to what he’s saying.”

As I listened to the presenter, it became clear that if anyone was to be taken outside and beaten, it should be him. He was missing dates, and there were many gaps in the plan he was discussing.

Delivery and confidence are so important in our business. That was the first of many lessons my mentor taught me during that long-ago launch meeting. And from that day forward, she always sat with me.

Women leaders who mentor other women are vital to our business, and I believe the measure of a great female leader is that she takes every opportunity to mentor other women in even the smallest of ways.

I’m looking forward to chatting among the panelist of the Women Leaders in Technology session at EVOLVE20!  Register now for EVOLVE20 and be sure to select to join the “Women Leaders in Technology” session so it’s added to your agenda.