Mentoring, to me, means having a positive impact on the life and career of another. I entered the HR field thanks to two of my professors. When I entered college, my declared major was math and computer science. After class one day, one of my math professors commented that I was more “socially oriented” than most of his other students and inquired whether my major was the best match for my personality.
Shortly thereafter, I was enrolled in a labor economics course, and caught the professor’s interest by being the only one in class to correctly interpret a particular exam question. Both professors took the time to ask me questions, and our conversations changed the course of my studies, laying the foundation for a career that I love.
At IBM, I was privileged to work early on with a manager who saw potential in me. He granted me opportunities and authority incommensurate with my age and experience because he was confident I could do the job. As my career progressed, I benefited from the guidance of many other mentors. I once received invaluable advice from another boss on how to negotiate a promotion rather than leave the company. She was also the first to encourage me to share my experience in career development and work-life balance, something I happily continue to do with current and past colleagues.
I eventually left IBM to join The Pantry, where the stage was smaller but my role was much broader. I interacted regularly with the board of directors, making for a very different dynamic than at my previous job. Today, I am part of a terrific team at Domtar, working for a president and CEO who is committed to people and developing a nurturing culture for our talent. Although I travel a lot for my job, my employer is sensitive to my need for balance between my professional and family lives, and tries to accommodate me as a mother and wife.
This is an important issue for today’s career women, and my advice to them is to remember that both are important. If you are content in your job, that will be reflected at the end of the day with your loved ones. You don’t have to choose one or the other. The key is to be happy in both facets of your life, and the balance will follow.