Leadership Mentoring - Executives Share their Secrets
by Terry Dear
Prelude: A big shout-out goes to our sponsors, Salesforce.com, Navisite, and Randstad technologies for making our event possible. A special thank you to SCSIM, Southern California Society of Information Management for providing the executives and to our partner AWT, Advancing Women in Technology with co-planning the event.
Welcome to the WITI Shark Tank!
Seventeen C-level executives (CIOs, COOs, VPs of IT, etc.), wearing their Teflon suit, stepped into one big room containing 120 willing attendees waiting to pounce on them with ANY QUESTION about leadership, career advancement, mentorship, etc. On April 16, 2015, WITI Orange County hosted a fulfilling 'Leadership Mentoring - Executives share their secrets' event.
How can you have an intimate conversation in a room full of people? We held 'fireside chats' with each CIO hosting a (virtual) circle of 4-8 participants. For twenty minutes, each circle of participants had the undivided attention of an executive. After twenty minutes, the executives rotated to the next group.
Every 'fireside chat' was free formed with no set agenda, just a time limit of twenty minutes (i.e. not quite speed mentoring). Participants could ask any burning question of the executive. Each participant received at least three different executive perspective to their questions.
Wishing I could be a fly on the wall for every executive circle (having left my stealth spy gear at home), following are a few 'take-aways' shared by various executives during the course of the event.
- Julie Hubbard's advice is to 'Build a solid network; Speak up; and acknowledge your weakness if mentioned then MOVE ON, do NOT pontificate on your weakness'.
- Bassam Fawaz's notable comment is 'You are not a generalist. You are a totalist'.
- Michael Woore stated it is all about 'Attitude, Aptitude, Integrity, and Initiative'.
- Sanjay Kucheria noted 'The key to success is sticking through the hard times, and having the fortitude to enjoy the good times'.
- Laura Muller pointed out 'Don't be afraid'.
- Randy Stalzer questioned us as to our value - 'If you are a software engineer and all you want to do is code, we can do that function cheaper offshore. Add value by learning the other tasks such as analyzing business requirements, infrastructure support, help test, etc.'.
- Kamal Therani also stated 'Functions that add business value do not get outsourced'.
- Dan Vogt's advice is to 'Always have someone above pulling you and have someone below pushing you'.
In case you were wondering, the participating executives commented that, this event allow them to speak directly with the young minds in the group, and for some, it was the first time they provided mentorship outside of their own team/company and they found this very rewarding.
To sum up the event, what was the number one answer to any question asked? 'It depends'.