Mentors can show up in our lives in all sorts of ways. We might forge a connection with a senior leader who helps us navigate tricky organizational challenges and career moves. Maybe we meet someone outside of work who is willing to share their knowledge and act as a sounding board for broader career questions and concerns. And sometimes we’re lucky to have a direct manager who goes the extra mile to help us thrive in our current role and prepare for our next one.
Mentors can be especially important for women in the workplace. According to research by McKinsey, 62% of managerial positions are held by men and 38% by women and one in five women say they are still the only woman or one of the only women in the room at work. But mentorship can have a significant impact on employee retention and performance. A Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) case study found that over a five-year period, employees who received mentoring were five times more likely to be promoted than those who didn’t.
Many Greenhouse employees have been lucky to be mentored by incredible women. In honor of International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8, we asked them to share their stories of female mentors who have helped them advance their careers and professional skills.
Carin Van Vuuren, Chief Marketing Officer
Joanna Seddon, Chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy Global Brand Consulting
I have had the good fortune to meet and work with many strong and successful women in my career. I consider myself lucky to have been supported and mentored by women who I admire and who have achieved a lot in their careers, and I am committed to doing the same for others.
Joanna Seddon, now CEO of Ogilvy Global Brand Consulting, had the most fundamental and incredible impact on my career because she taught me how to succeed when the odds are against you. She taught me the value of believing in myself, and the importance of just doing the work it takes to become good at something hard.
Early in my career I was working as a brand consultant, and just started to lead a client engagement focused on Brand Asset Value and Equity Research. At its core, this was quantitative business modeling, the likes of which I had never done, and did not have any real skill set in. Joanna lead the BAV practice and I worked with her team of ex-McKinsey consultants to get the work done. She was a tough taskmaster! She held me accountable to perform at a very high level, and simply did not hold back in pointing out where my work fell short. For someone with a background in journalism and language, I was a fish out of water! Many weeks and months of incredibly hard work and borderline despair that I might not master this work eventually turned to success. Joanna was the first person to acknowledge my progress. She even admitted that she underestimated my ability to stick with it and get to the results needed! From this point forward I became the example she would reference to encourage others to take on difficult or improbable assignments. Her impact on my professional career is immense because she taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to, as long as I put in the work. I have immense gratitude towards Joanna, who now is not only a mentor but now also a friend.
Jen Koniuk, Digital Marketing Manager
Gaby Galiani, Senior Marketing Manager, Greenhouse
Working closely with Gaby has been the most meaningful relationship in my career. Gaby has been instrumental in my growth by providing autonomy, challenging my way of thinking, encouraging agile decision-making and shaping my quantitative approach to optimize marketing strategies. Her leadership and problem-solving mindset is inspiring, giving me a strong sense of the leader I want to become. Her support and business case helping me accelerate my career as a Digital Marketing Manager II has increased my self-confidence in my own capabilities. I never expected a direct manager to have such a positive influence on my development and career, but I could not be more thankful.
Nena Ugwomo, Sales Development Representative
Vanessa Small, former journalist at The Washington Post
Vanessa Small made an astronomical impact on my life. I met her through my church while I was a sophomore at Howard University. As a leading journalist covering philanthropy and nonprofits for the Washington Post, she not only emphasized, but also modeled the importance of character in my career. Her constant support, encouragement and the way she challenged me reminded me to grow in both character and integrity while I progressed in my work. She’s also a dope powerhouse wife and mom who walks it like she talks it. Thanks Vanessa!
Jenn Ritchie, Senior Account Executive
Liz Clyman, Director of Sales, Greenhouse
When Liz started I was deep in the throes of postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter. She was new to the org and all she was looking for was people who "had drive" and wanted to do the job. Three years in at Greenhouse, it was terrifying to have to look her in the eyes and say, "I know I am currently last on the leaderboard. I am suffering from postpartum depression and I have no drive right now. It's really hard each day. But, I am working with professionals in different areas of medicine to try and turn it around."
I was so grateful for her response of, "I know how that is, keep me posted on how it's going and let's see what we can do together." Having to admit I was sick was scary, but also freeing. Liz asked me to build a plan for the next few quarters. Was there a way to map the numbers to get to 100% for the year? With these easy requests, she helped my scattered brain start to organize and have better focus, knowing the deals that mattered to the end goal. She committed time each week to talking through my deals and the strategy I was using, unearthing things I might have missed, making suggestions for new ways to approach blockers.
Many managers would have given up on me, but Liz didn't discount me for where my numbers were at the time. She looked at me as a whole person and contributor when I couldn't look at myself that way. And somehow in her doing that, I was eventually able to get my feet back under me, my confidence and excitement for it all back. During one of the hardest times in my professional life, she was a guiding star who really shined a light for me and it made all the difference.
Kelsey Santini, Senior Customer Success Manager
Jenn Suarez, CEO of Privacy Practice; former SVP Workforce Development at CBS
Jenn and I met my first year out of college, when she was hired as the COO for a small non-profit I worked at. I was itching to move to a big city and break into the tech world, but didn’t know where to start (or even what I wanted to do) until Jenn took me under her wing. As a former executive headhunter (her resume includes Accenture, Deloitte and CBS), she was perfectly suited to coach me through a rigorous series of exercises to both uncover what I was passionate about and begin applying to jobs. Based on my work with Jenn, I always knew I eventually wanted to move into the HR/talent space, but first settled on an account manager role to hone my interpersonal skills and learn the business world. When I was ready to finally make the switch to HR tech three years later, Jenn was again there as my sounding board, which is how I ended up at Greenhouse!
Michelle Yoshihara, Associate Recruiter
Joanne de Guzman, Senior Recruiter, T-Mobile
Joanne was the manager who taught me to advocate for my career growth by guiding me through taking on elevated responsibilities. For example, she asked me to coordinate 200 volunteers for a 1000+ person career fair and a women’s networking breakfast to increase my visibility into recruiting as she knew that was an interest of mine professionally. This enabled me to eventually take on a new role as a special projects lead because these were the types of events that she’d have me continue to coordinate and eventually help host or manage!
Whitney Sieck, Director of Enablement
Amber Watts, Metro Market Manager, Robert Half International
Amber was instrumental in helping me identify my passion early in my career. After conducting a strengths assessment, we discovered that training other team members was the part of my work that I enjoyed the most. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an internal trainer position open at the time. As soon as we realized that I wouldn’t find my ideal role at Robert Half, she supported me through giving extended notice and hiring and training my replacement. She then acted as a referral to connect me to my first customer with my consulting business and made sure I knew I always had a spot on her team if things didn't go as planned. Luckily, everything worked out and I've navigated my way to a dream job at Greenhouse!
How is your company helping women and those from other underrepresented backgrounds to progress? If you don’t have a formal mentorship program in place, perhaps you can start with an employee resource group or casual meetups or workshops that focus on professional development. Taking the time to help your junior employees can boost retention and engagement, and you might just find yourself being thanked in a post like this sometime down the road!
Looking to learn from more inspiring women? Join us for Greenhouse OPEN 2019 in NYC on June 12 & 13 to hear from women in Talent leadership about high performance hiring.