Liz Elting: Companies Benefit By Pairing Experienced and Green Employees


Liz Elting: Companies Benefit By Pairing Experienced and Green Employees

By Liz Elting

The Wall Street Journal - May 24, 2013

GUEST MENTOR Liz Elting, co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect: I’ve seen the value of mentorship from widely divergent angles: As a professional just starting out, and as the co-CEO of a growing company. Early in my career, I was lucky enough to be mentored by my boss at my first job in the translation industry. Martha was an inspiration; she managed to bridge the gap between her professional and personal lives, and she taught me how to do the same. That relationship gave me the confidence I needed to pursue goals I otherwise might have abandoned — including venturing out on my own to start a company.

Now, I work to foster mentorship among my employees to encourage the kind of leadership we need to succeed in a competitive market. That’s the most significant role a mentor can have: To recognize a spark in someone, and then send them on what can sometimes be an unexpected path. This dynamic has been essential in building the careers of many leaders in our company. Many of these employees started out on one road, but thanks to the keen eye of a mentor, found satisfaction and continued growth in another area of the business.

For example, the head of our New York-based sales operation started as a client service trainee in our sales division 10 years ago. In no time at all, she absorbed a tremendous amount of information about the pharmaceutical industry. Her manager and predecessor noticed her aptitude for the field, and encouraged her to continue assuming more responsibility, until she developed such an impressive skill set that she was able to take over the role of her mentor when he moved on to the position of senior vice president of worldwide sales.

The same manager who saw this woman’s potential put those mentoring skills to use with another one of our employees. In that case, the employee was not reaching his full potential in a sales position, and his manager chose to encourage and support his growth in a marketing role. The employee has since secured a position as the director of marketing and communications, a shift that never could have occurred had the manager not taken the time to mentor this employee and encourage him to expand his skill set and diversify his contributions to the company.

We’ve seen so many positive outcomes from the mentor relationships that have evolved among our employees. With the right encouragement, a promising staffer can move into a leadership role, help grow the company, and mentor others. It’s important to keep an open mind when being a mentor, and also when listening to a mentor. Sometimes, your career destiny isn’t the path you’ve been planning.

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