January is, as of 2022, National Mentoring Month in the U.S. Federal recognition of the importance of mentorship comes on the heels of numerous studies harolding the positive impact of having a mentor on one’s career: mentees are promoted five times more often than those not in a mentoring program; 87% of mentees (and mentors!) feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence; and 89% of those who have been mentored say they will go on to be a mentor themselves.
With over 200 mentors globally signing on each year to bring support and encouragement to the next generation of Market Research leadership, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to the power of Mentorship to capture some of the wisdom and experience from our mentor pool. We sat down with six of our mentors earlier this month; here’s what they had to say:
What inspired you to become a WIRe mentor?
Many of our mentors noted that the positive experience of building a relationship with another researcher was the impetus behind their mentor career. “I love working with people and supporting them in their professional and personal development and growth.” Infotools’ Horst Feldhaeuser shared. He added that, equally important is the opportunity to, “...give something back, share knowledge & experience and help to make our industry more diverse in leadership positions.” Forsta’s Debi Hart echoed this sentiment, sharing that, “I love mentoring, helping people develop — as soon as I found out about the WIRe program, I signed up!”
Like many mentors, Walnut Unlimited’s Anjul Sharma was herself at one time a recipient of mentorship. “I had been lucky enough to have unofficial mentors in my early career,” she mentioned. “...so I wanted to repay the benefits of having a mentor to a new generation of researchers.”
What is your mentoring philosophy?
The rich philosophies within our mentor pool are as varied as our mentors themselves. YouGov’s Kalina Bojourova recognizes the value of Mentorship despite not having a mentor of her own at an early stage in her career. “I am trying to pass on knowledge and life experience to younger people as I wish someone had done it for me when I started.” she shared. Katrina Noelle of KNow Research/Scoot Insights wants to help her mentees focus on the big picture: “It's my goal to provide framing, context and perspective. Many mentees are focused on specific situations and company dynamics and I try to widen the lens and frame their struggles, decisions and aspirations against what I've seen in the industry over the years to help them put things in perspective and make decisions in light of a broader context.” Debi puts a particular focus on, what can be, a difficult skill to master: listening. “Listen and ask questions to help someone find the right solution for them,” she urged. “We are all different and what works for me may not work for you.”
What is your biggest piece of advice for MR professionals /women in business?
While they might have differing opinions on what mentees need their mentors, our mentors do agree on one crucial piece of advice: keep the momentum going. “Don't even think about what's holding you back,” Anjul shares. “Think about what will take you forward.” Social Len Research’s Julie Diaz Asper urges mentees to, “keep learning and keep networking” for career success. Kalina tells mentees that they shouldn’t even think about what’s holding them back; instead, “Think about what will take you forward.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a WIRe mentor?
Horst, like many of our mentors, finds fulfillment in seeing the difference their words can make. “Seeing mentees applying what we've discussed and progress as a result,” he shares. He also enjoys, “...getting feedback that what we do makes a difference to someone's career and life.” Anjul agrees; “Mentoring is always a two-way street,” she shares, “so learning from mentees is very powerful. But, in addition, seeing mentees excel in their careers is simply brilliant.” Katrina recognizes that it’s important not just to see the change in one’s life, but to celebrate it: “I love getting to celebrate the success of my amazing mentees as they work their way through their careers!”
How has your relationship with your mentee(s) impacted your career?
Debi hits the nail on the head, recognizing that mentorship benefits, not only the mentee, but the mentor as well: “Mentoring is a two way process, I learn from the mentee's as well as try to help them. Mentoring researchers in different business areas gives me new insights on my own business area.” For Julie, being a mentor is as much a skill earned as it is a skill share: “It's increased my employee coaching skills. I have also done more self reflection of strengths and weaknesses by reflecting on what I have learned — sometimes the hard way.” For Horst, mentorship has “expanded my own horizon and thinking by working with different mentees. Being a mentor motivates me to keep learning.”
Finally: what would you say to others who may be considering the path of mentorship to inspire their journey?
Many of our mentors wanted to impart to would-be mentors that, despite any concerns, their feedback and experience is worth sharing. “You have something valuable to give,” Katrina urges, “...think back to all the mentors who have helped you along the way and what that's meant to you and sign up to help someone else in return.” Kalina echoes this, saying, “Don't have any doubts you have plenty to give!” Debi wants potential mentors to understand that there is more to being a mentor than giving — there are positive impacts for the mentor themself as well. “Being a mentor is as enriching for the mentor as it is for the mentee. Find the time, it is worth it! For Julie, mentorship is particularly important for women newer to their MR career: “Young women can really learn from your experiences more than you think. Mentoring also helps you reflect on what works well — or maybe not so well — as you grow in the MR industry.”
A very big thank you to all of our mentors for giving the gift of leadership each and every year. While our 2023 mentor program cycle is closed, we’ll reopen in Q4. If you have 10+ years of industry experience and are interested in becoming a mentor, head over to our sign up page where you can update your program interest to let us know that you’d like to be contacted when we do our next call for 2024 mentors.