Mentoring is a core value at IWCO Direct. In a previous blog about our mentoring efforts, we highlighted our involvement with SteelGrow, an initiative of the Steel Partners family of companies that encourages developing new talent from within the organization. We have been working side-by-side with SteelGrow’s Director of Talent Management, Kathleen Korpita, to implement the SteelGrow mentorship program at IWCO Direct.
Kathleen explained that the program is a three-pronged strategy aimed at continuing mentorship throughout an employee’s time with the company:
- Assigning a mentor to a new hire to help them get their footing
- Continuing mentorship with high-potential employees who may eventually become mentors themselves
- Focusing on reverse mentorship, where newer employees can share up-to-date knowledge with more experienced workers at the company
By targeting these three areas of mentorship, we cultivate IWCO Direct as an inclusive, growth-driven workplace. The program is still being fine-tuned, and we are learning as we go. We continue to gather feedback from mentors and mentees alike on what we are doing well and what we can improve.
SteelGrow Mentorship in Action
Today, we’ll take a look at two mentor-mentee pairs at IWCO Direct: My mentee, Security Analyst Eli Livon, and myself; and Sam Wambold, a Marketing Services Intern, and Chelsey Naab, a Customer Engagement Manager.
Eli graduated with a degree in Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance at the University of Minnesota. At the advice of trusted individuals, he went on to obtain a master’s in Security Technologies and began his dive into the information security world—that is just one of the many instances of mentorship he attributes to getting him where he is today.
These moments of mentorship inspired Eli to give back the same type of guidance that he had once needed to students coming out of undergrad. “After finishing school, I wanted to offer guidance to others and make it easier for them to transition into a job,” Eli said. “Early this year, I had the opportunity to speak at a student-focused security event called Student 360 to help students with professional advancement. I also recently spoke to a major project class for graduating seniors at the University of Minnesota. I often meet with current students and recent college alumni to help them navigate any difficulties they have with choosing a major, finding a job, or providing any other resources or advice I can offer.”
When Eli came to IWCO Direct, my manager, John Murray and I were fortunate enough to become Eli’s supervisors and also his mentors by showing him we were supportive and letting him “wear a lot of different hats” around the office. Eli said, “That experience with both the administrative and technical side of the security field, together with the skills I have gained as both a mentor and mentee, positioned me well for a future career in information security.” By being on both sides of the mentorship relationship, Eli was able to grow even more than one side could have ever done for him.
Eli believes that “mentoring is an important way to share knowledge that you have gained through your experiences with others and allows for goal setting, building your professional network, developing communication and critical thinking skills, and stimulating professional and personal growth. This is especially important in fields that are continuously adapting such as the Information Security field.”
Chelsey is another coworker who has found herself on both sides of the mentorship fence, calling it “an extremely important and gratifying role.” She owes much of her positive mentorship experience to her own mentor, Derynn Meyer, Account Manager, claiming, “Derynn has played an important role in my positive interactions and career growth at IWCO Direct.”
This experience has in turn inspired her to be a mentor for new employees around the office. She believes the experience is beneficial for both parties involved, saying, “Mentoring is not a one-way street. You can learn a lot from each other. It’s a relationship that begins in mentoring, but continues throughout both of your careers.”
Sam, her mentee, can attest to her skills in this role, saying, “Chelsey has taught me the backbone of IWCO Direct. She’s been a big impact on the knowledge I’ve gained with IWCO Direct.” They have been working closely together for the past three months, not only as employee and supervisor, but as mentor and mentee through the SteelGrow mentorship initiative.
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