Welcome to WIRe’s Mentoring Blog Series! We will be featuring both a mentee and mentor throughout the year as we follow their journey through our award-winning one-on-one mentoring program here at Women in Research.
For Nicole and for Karen, 2018 was a year of new beginnings. Karen Lynch’s decision to become a WIRe mentor was borne from a big career change; after 17 years of self-employment, she entered back into the workplace and into a management role with a desire to share her experience, techniques, and wisdom gleaned from a 25+ year career. Karen is currently the Senior Director of Qualitative Insights at the behavioral market research company InsightsNow where she leads their growing qualitative and hybrid business, expanding on their co-creation and co-design methods uncovering sensorial triggers of behavior. While Karen was ready to share what she knew with her mentee, she experienced an unexpected benefit of Mentorship she hadn’t originally anticipated: “using my gifts and skills to help someone else validated my knowledge and experience in a surprising way.”
Her mentee, Nicole Mitchell, started with Research Now SSI team in 1999 as a Project Director on the Offline Team and experienced success presenting in conferences and alongside her teammates but saw a pressing need to increase and develop the diversity of voices represented in our industry by starting with her own. When looking back on that initial goal for the mentorship relationship, Nicole notes that, “Karen helped me cultivate my voice without denying my authentic self. I learned that I do not need to be the loudest voice in the room to have an impact. In addition to developing my voice, I discovered qualities that I possess that enable me to be successful.” Over the course of the past year, Nicole earned an internal company award for being instrumental in bolstering a relationship with a client through consultation and, a few months later, was promoted to her current position of Senior Knowledge Specialist on Research Now SSI’s Research Science Team. For Nicole, 2018 could be summarized by three qualities: “persistence, flexibility and tenacity.”
Goal-making featured heavily in their work together; Karen helped Nicole dissect and nail down her aspirations and their goal-crafting exercises helped her understand the deeper, personal importance behind her goals, the obstacles to their achievement, and how to combat them on her way to success. Karen was dually inspired by Nicole’s passion and her progress, remarking that Nicole is “positioning herself as a thought leader, she’s found her voice and is learning to use it appropriately at work, and taking control of her career as she hoped to do at the start of this journey.” The team also spent much of their time discussing the limiting effects of Imposter Syndrome. Nicole was initially concerned that, because they hailed from different worlds, the duo would find difficulty relating to one another’s life experiences. She’s quick to note, however, that, “it was an unfounded concern because Karen has been amazing every step of the way.” Karen echoes this positive experience, saying, “our industry’s lack of diversity is signaled at conferences, where white males dominate speaker tracks, delivering the majority of keynotes and showcasing their leadership roles via presentations. We need to work together to call the inequity out, support diversity and help one another overcome subtle oppression by growing the leadership skills of sisters in the industry.”
Both mentor and mentee expressed that one of the most beneficial aspects of the mentorship relationship had been, for them, having an empathetic party to share successes and struggles with while simultaneously creating a bigger impact on the industry at large. What’s their advice for women just starting out in Market Research? Karen encourages the development and nurturement of a growth mindset as well as creative problem-solving, saying, with which “there isn’t a challenge you can’t overcome.” For Nicole, her outlook takes the form of an affirmation: “Your ability to conquer challenges is limitless; your potential to succeed is infinite.”
Thank you for sharing your story Nicole and Karen!