Pivot Your Career Through Peer-to-Peer Solidarity

screenshot from Zoom event

FEW’s September meeting looked at taking a more active and collaborative approach to professional development. Corporate governance specialist Royanne Doi, representative director of the US–Japan Council and external director of social impact startup Gojo & Company, had a Fireside Chat with Program Director Tracey Northcott, which was followed by the launch of the members-only Peer-to-Peer (P2P) program. 

FEW turns 40

President Jackie Steele invited members to celebrate FEW’s 40th anniversary year. Launched in October 1981, FEW began as Foreign Executive Women before evolving to For Empowering Women to encompass “a vibrant community of women of all nationalities.” As a milestone in FEW’s development, this year is about “innovating to serve members better and building more digital inclusion for different types of women”, she said. 

Co-President Terri MacMillan, introduced FEWsion, a new channel on Slack designed to “take the community to the next level.” She hopes it will allow members to “connect, learn and continue conversations.” 

Defining supporters 

Royanne shared insights on the supporters who can aid career development. She defined them as:

  • Hero (someone who inspires you to act)
  • Role model (someone you emulate, regardless of your relationship to them)
  • Advisor (advice-giver on isolated career questions)
  • Coach (guide and facilitator)
  • Sponsor (senior figure who promotes your visibility and talents)
  • Mentor (trusted confidante and counsellor)

It is vital to identify potential supporters as one of these types and understand the different roles they play. A sponsor, for example, is someone “who anoints you with their power,” she said. “They pick you because of your great service … when you fail, they let you go.” Although sponsors are typically powerful people who can greatly help your career, they should not be confused with mentors with whom you can “discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Likewise, she recommended attendees tell their advisor only the positive aspects of their career progress and ask them only task-orientated questions.

For those in an organization, it is possible to secure a sponsor by performing well on a high-visibility project that is above and beyond your job description and, preferably, cross-functional. Small business owners and freelancers, meanwhile, might find that their powerful clients perform the function of a sponsor by referring potential clients, recommending you to others, or similarly “putting their social capital on you,” she said. 

A coach, on the other hand, is typically hired and should be considered “an investment in yourself.” Royanne explained that receiving executive coaching had really helped her “take her performance to the next level” and recommended everyone utilizes a coach every 10 years. Before signing a contract, she suggested interviewing several candidates to check the chemistry and confirming they have the appropriate skills and background for your needs. 

Power of mentoring

So, with so many types of supporters why is a mentor so valuable? A mentor, explained Royanne, “cares about you.” Mentorship is based on trust, on the principle that a mentor can’t share something they learned through the relationship with anyone else. Mentors provide “tailored perspectives and feedback” and, ultimately, want to protect and help their mentees. 

Asked about finding a mentor, Royanne recommended simply asking. “People who have been mentors in the past and know the process will say yes or no if they think they can help you,” she said, noting that they don’t have to be working within your organization. In fact, it is often better when they’re not, she added. The main requirements are that they care for you, are willing to share, and have a different perspective to you. 

As mentors act entirely for the benefit of mentees, they typically carry out the role to pay forward the mentorship they have benefited from in the past. Still, Royanne noted that anyone who has neither been a mentor nor had any managerial experience can benefit from the role as it provides experience on giving feedback and insight into junior perspectives. 

Mastermind groups

Royanne explained the power of the Mastermind Group, which she defined as “two or more people who work in perfect harmony for the attainment of a definite common objective.” Members borrow and use the education, experience, influence, and social capital of each other based on the understanding that they can accomplish more together than they would alone. 

She provided a checklist for the successful operation of such groups, which included:

  • Lead conversations with compassion; treat people with respect and kindness.
  • Welcome input from others; don’t dominate conversations.
  • Tell the truth; don’t leave false impressions, hold back information, or have hidden agendas. 
  • Don’t minimize other experiences; make things right when you are wrong.
  • Keep yourself accountable. 

P2P Program 

To start the new P2P Program, attendees participated in networking and thought-sharing in one of three breakout rooms (on the themes of building relationships, entrepreneurship, and pivoting careers). Membership Co-director Corinn Wilson said the revamped annual program would offer content crafted around the idea of “connecting and growing” together. There will be four sessions: Unlocking Yourself, Clarifying Your Vision, Presenting Yourself, and Accomplishing Goals. 

In closing, members were invited to get involved to explore and plan career development that can be meaningful, impactful, and collaborative.

Recap provided by Sterling Content http://www.sterlingcontent.co