I can date my mentoring experience all the way back to when I was getting out of college for the first time in my early 20s. I worked for three gentlemen that owned a real estate company and they allowed me the opportunity to grow and develop within their organizations, starting out as (back then) a typist in the typing pool, believe it or not, and then working my way up and supporting each of the functional areas of property management, brokerage appraisal, and eventually added to the supervision of what they called the word processing group. Those three individuals during my first seven years of professional experience allowed me to develop and grow and really took me under their wing and provided me with mentoring, coaching, and opportunity.
This continued to my next job where I worked directly for the president of the organization. He encouraged me to go back to school and to pursue human resource management, and that’s exactly what I did. I started on evening classes, it took me about nine years to get my bachelor’s. He then allowed me the opportunity to get more involved in the other functional areas of the business, specifically human resource management, by supporting the BPHR there. That then led me to a professional career in HR,.
Then I worked with Rea Magnet Wire Company on the HRO Due Diligence Project, where they were acquiring self-storage Magnet Wire assets, and through that, I was offered a job to join Rea Magnet Wire in 2006 after they acquisitioned and my predecessor retired in 2009. That opened the pathway for me to move into the top world and into the Vice President role here at Rea Magnet Wire. I’ve been very fortunate though, to really only have three companies that I’ve worked for and in each one of them I had a very senior-level executive or over coach and mentor me. It has allowed me to grow, develop and challenge myself, of course, and it’s led to all the progression in my career.
I first learned about Engage Mentoring through work with the Regional Opportunities Council of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and specifically through 3Rivers Federal Credit Union. It was just a concept or an idea about a lot of companies having internal mentoring programs, but nothing involving external mentoring. 3Rivers, I think, was the only organization that stopped and said that they have this relationship. When we partnered with them and began learning about their program and how they’ve incorporated it, we just started to talk about how it would be a really great thing to get companies of the Regional Opportunities Council here in Northeast Indiana to put together their own external mentoring type program. And so we met with Alison and the conversations took place and eventually she was able to roll it out for the group up here, partnering with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.
From there, it’s just continued to grow. I can definitely see the number of mentors in the system has grown tremendously. I’ve enjoyed it and have gotten to meet a lot of great people. I haven’t really used it for me as a mentee, but I have enjoyed being a mentor to multiple people from multiple markets and organizations. It’s been a really great learning experience for me being in the program.
Here locally in Rea Magnet Wire, I can think of Veronica, who has had great success being part of the program. She is somebody who we moved from our Mexico facility here to the United States to take on a Supply Chain Manager role. Since then, she has grown into the Corporate Supply Chain Planning Manager position.
I think Luke has been a great mentor for mentees in the program. He has strong operations and technical background and he’s easy to talk to and easy to learn from. I’ve seen the growth in him when it comes to coaching and mentoring his engineers. I see the difference in terms of how he works with them and how he focuses on them and how he coaches them. His participation as a mentor in the program, I think, really benefited other Rea Magnet Wire employees as well.
Another success, Laurie, I’ve seen growth in her as well. She thinks more broadly now about her role as Benefits Manager and now listens to those keywords or key actions that other companies are communicating and benchmarking and is able to bring those to Rea, looking at our programs to see how we can continue to elevate and continuously improve our own benefit programs for our employees.
Engage Mentoring’s programs are very simple and easy to use. All of the folks that I’ve met for the past three and a half years have come well prepared with very good questions. They’ve obviously done their own SWOT analysis in terms of what their strengths are, but also where their opportunities for improvement are. And it really helps them to hone in and focus on those specific areas. When they come prepared with the questions they bring to me, it allows me to think back on my experiences and share those experiences with them in hopes that either answers their questions or gets them to think differently about a specific topic or a specific approach that they are trying to use with their own teams.