On Thursday, May 17, WIT hosted a speed mentoring event with Tammi Kroll, VP of Production Operations and Olga Braylovskiy, VP of Corporate Applications. While Tammi and Olga rotated through two groups of participants, questions and themes were similar; discussions tended to center on effective means of finding a mentor, the meaning of work-life balance, and how fear tends to be the thing that keeps many women from achieving their ultimate career potential. The new executive WIT sponsor, Yahoo!’s CIO Randy Roumillat also made a guest appearance.
On the subject of mentorship, both Tammi and Olga spoke to how they feel formal mentoring programs tend not to be the best approach for finding mentors. For Tammi, finding mentors is more about observation and adopting styles and traits of people who you find inspiring or are doing things the way you would like to do them. Olga pointed out that “formal mentors” tend to fail because relationships tend to feel forced. Instead she advocates for having a small network of people who can serve as your support system or as cheerleaders; mentorship is about give and take. Instead of formally asking someone to be your mentor, Olga suggests that you talk to people that you find compelling and began to build a relationship based on showing an interest in what they do.
The topic of work-life balance struck up a lively conversation among the mentors and mentees. While time management and actually disconnecting while on vacation were popularly advocated for, Olga also suggests an approach she prefers to call “work-life integration” since work-life balance implies a largely impractical 50-50.
Tammi and Olga offered complimentary advice to women who want to advance their careers. Olga says that women need to raise their hands more to take on new projects, while Tammi also reminds us that delegating, prioritizing, and learning how to say no are also important to be effective.