Kristi Lanciotti, MBA serves as the Vice President of Managed Services at Optimum. As a strong proponent of mentoring, she recently was a panelist for the “Become the CEO of Your Life” session during the Women in Tech Regatta conference in Seattle.
I believe that mentoring, formal or informal, is an integral part of a person’s career and organizational development. Throughout my own career, I have been lucky – and strategic enough – to learn from exceptional mentors. During the middle of the pandemic, like many others, I was looking for virtual networking opportunities. With roots in the D.C. metro area, I stumbled upon the Women in Technology (WIT) organization. What I discovered was so much more than networking, though. WIT offered a mentor-mentee matching program, which exactly suited my interests.
One of the things I love about mentoring is that even as a mentor, you continue to learn and grow from your experiences. WIT paired me with two incredibly talented women in IT. We meet biweekly as mentor-mentee, and WIT supplements our meetings with conversation topics and additional virtual group conversations. During the one-on-one sessions, we build on those topics and also focus on any individual issues facing the mentee. I have enjoyed these discussions even more than I had anticipated, with each one reminding me of the compound effect mentoring provides. Not only does mentoring support the mentee (and mentor), but it in turn benefits the mentee’s organization and the clients it serves, too.
As a practice leader at Optimum, I rely on my mentoring philosophy to build a strong team that puts the growth and development of individual team members at the heart of what we do. Our managed services team is purposely comprised of varying levels of experience. Mentoring and development are integral to our delivery. I’m confident that when we take time to mentor each other, our clients benefit. It’s such an essential topic that we even incorporate valuing mentorship into our recruiting process.
When interviewing leads, we ask questions such as:
- Have you ever had a negative mentorship experience? What was that like?
- Tell me about your experience mentoring others. What were some specific strategies you used to aid in their development?
- How do you make time in your schedule to support mentoring others
Optimum’s analyst leads must enjoy developing others to be successful. When we put these values at the forefront of our goals, quality service simply becomes a trickle-down effect of caring about our people.
Placing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, whether as a mentor or a mentee, allows us to stretch and grow in ways we otherwise wouldn’t. It humbles us, keeps us inquisitive, and at the same time, builds confidence. If you are senior in your role, I highly recommend mentor programs outside of your department, organization, or industry. Key to my experience with WIT has been learning from other women working outside of my industry and bringing back those lessons to my team. For those more junior in their roles, the same organizations are still beneficial, but I recommend finding internal mentors and sponsors who can support early career growth at their organizations.
Lastly, remember that not every mentoring match will be perfect, and you will require many different mentors along your career journey, but growth and knowledge will always come for those who put in the effort and time.
About Women in Technology
Women in Technology (WIT) has the sole aim of advancing women in technology – from the classroom to the boardroom. WIT meets its vision through a variety of leadership, technology education, networking, and mentoring opportunities for women at all levels of their careers. WIT has over 1,000 members in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia metro region.