Maximizing the benefits in mentoring relationships

Growth is an important success factor for IBM’s future as well as for each employee. At IBM, all employees can develop their professional capabilities and personal competencies to foster their own development and to contribute to the business performance. One way IBM supports this growth is through mentoring.

In today’s blog on our leadership series, Uta Menges, IBM Diversity & Inclusion Leader for BeNeLux and DACH, shares some of her mentoring experiences at IBM.

The leadership series is a series that profile a collection of IBM leaders sharing their leadership experiences and also top tips to help you grow your career and become an effective leader. Stay tuned for more blogs on the leadership series.

By Uta Menges

Uta MengesMentoring is a very effective method to support an individual’s learning objectives. I want to share my view on mentoring at IBM to give some inspiration and advice for your personal mentoring.

IBM utilizes mentoring in different contexts and with various objectives. Classical mentoring approaches focuses on sharing skills and experiences from a more senior mentor to the mentee. This set-up is used for newly hired colleagues to foster their training in the new job or for employees in development programs like future managers or executives to give them insights in their next role.

Other programs help IBMers to learn more about a specific topic. Our global cross cultural mentoring allows people to connect across borders and to exchange information about the other’s culture. I was part of a mentoring pair with a colleague in Mexico and learnt a lot about the working culture in this country. Also cross generational mentoring can raise awareness for the needs and expectations of different generations at the workplace. Members of Generation Y help our company to adapt to future markets and working styles while more senior IBMers share their broad range of knowledge and experiences.

My responsibilities as Diversity & Inclusion Leader include attracting the best talent for IBM and ensuring a diverse mix of talents in all management levels. To name just a few examples, IBM uses mentoring programs to reach out to female students to increase the share of women at IBM or to help diverse talents to master their next career steps.

My mentoring relationship with a computer science student in Berlin was full of learnings on both sides. The student was very engaged in our mentoring relationship and by discussing with me, she could sort out her career expectations and developed a career plan for the upcoming years. Some of the steps defined are realized now: she finished her studies with a bachelor degree and is working in an interesting project on accessibility as an IT Systems Engineer. As her mentor, I learnt a lot too. As her family is originated from Lebanon, we both have very different cultural and social roots. So this gave me an opportunity to gain insight into another culture and to understand more about her views on the role of women at work and in the family. A personal highlight was the invitation to her wedding celebration where her family welcomed my husband and myself very warmly.

Another mentoring relationship offered me the opportunity to guide a future female manager at IBM during her leadership journey. She asked me to become her mentor when she started the “Women & Leadership” program. This program is designed to support the development of female talents concerning personal and leadership competencies. As mentor, I acted as conversation partner for all open questions or as reviewer for the career plans which need to be developed during the program. She has completed the program successfully and is now on the track to becoming a manager at IBM. We established a very trusting relationship and appreciate every meeting.

With both mentees, I am still in touch and happy to hear about every step they make towards their career goals. Based on my personal experiences with mentoring, I recommend to everybody to look for options and find a mentee. It is a great gift to give and get different perspectives and experiences and to stay open-minded. I love it!

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