Recap: Learn from Executives - Mentor Circles

Terry Dear

June 01, 2017

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Learn from Executives - Mentor Circles
May 18, 2017
Recap by Terry Dear (VP of Software Development)

On May 18th 2017, thirteen busy executives (Presidents, CIOs, CISOs, VP of ITs) from all over Southern California took time out of their busy schedule to 'speed mentor' 100+ attendees. We are always humbled by the authenticity, perspective, wisdom, and wealth of advice shared by the participating executives. This year, several of the executive mentors were first timers (to the event) but that did not stop their enthusiasm from jumping in and offering sage advice at their tables.

To ease the attendees' nervousness with talking to a C-level executive, the executives shared their 'human' side. We had three marathon runners in the group. One executive was actually a Bruce Springsteen roadie. One started at NASA. One is raising doves, and another is raising a tortoise. When networking, always latch onto a tidbit about a person. This tidbit can be an ice breaker for you to start a conversation with this person.

Each table of attendees met with three different executives for 20 minutes and could 'ask any question'. Gleaning tidbits from each session, here are a few take-aways:

- Always have confidence, be comfortable that you belong
- Always challenge yourself - find easy things to stretch you
- Don't underestimate the value of lateral moves, show that you can do a variety of jobs well
- Build relationships with people at all levels. Manage up as well as down. You need people pushing you up (team) as well as pulling you up (management)
- Don't dismiss the importance of the pre-meeting. If everyone is meeting to discuss your topic before the meeting, and you're too busy heads down prepping for the meeting, you might find when you get in there that decisions have already been made. TAKE THE TIME. Women are so focused and concerned about preparing the details that they do not prioritize the networking aspect. They rush in and rush out. Take time before and after a meeting to make connections with people.
- Do the hardest part of your day first, then reward yourself in the afternoon doing the things you know best
- Find your mentors, but make sure you have a sponsor as well. A sponsor is someone who will promote your skills and value-add in various business situations. Build a network of sponsors as well. Business sponsors promoting you in various meetings can shift the decision making dynamics in meetings.
- Be very specific about your goals. Women tend to generalize and they are not remembered as a result.
- Focus on communicating well

Can you imagine what it would be like to spend an individual hour session talking to a CIO of a Fortune 100 company about your career? The most coveted raffle prize(s) were 'spending an hour with a mentor'. WITI OC is truly indebted to all the mentors who donated an hour of their time to mentor a raffle winner.

On a WITI note, seven out of our thirteen executives are women. We have come a long way. Photos from the event are here.

A special callout to our sponsor FastSwitch ( With over 20 years of IT staffing experience, FastSwitch solves your IT contingency labor equation focusing first on customers and their consultants. FastSwitch is ranked #1 supplier by over 50% of their customers nationally and ranked 'Top 3 supplier' by over 75% of their customers nationally. FastSwitch is in the people business, and they never forget it. They have 800 associates nationwide, and have performed work in over 35 states.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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