My Mentoring Story

Board Member Stacy's Story:

“Have perspective. Personal relationships matter. Keep a sense of humor”. My mentor shared these three short statements with me a few years ago when I asked for advice on how to be successful in my first job leading a large operations team. Today, it sums up my leadership style.

For me, it all goes back to 5th grade. Anyone who knows me knows that my passion is mentoring middle school aged girls. This is because that was one of the most significant periods of change I experienced in my life. When I started 5th grade, I was sent off to a middle school that was not my neighborhood school. This meant that I had to make new friends and couldn’t carry my friendships from elementary school with me. This also meant that I was isolated from the friends in my neighborhood because they were going to the local school and having different experiences than my own. Being isolated and “the only one” that was bused to school was lonely at first and I was mad at my mom for forcing me into this situation. Over the years, I made new friends and received opportunities and experiences that others around me did not. Looking back, I am thankful for the hard choice that my mother made and grateful for her foresight in pushing me into new experiences so that I may have access to better opportunities.

And I haven’t looked back. My “dream job” is always one where I find myself faced with a big challenge and a high enough likelihood of failure that I have butterflies in my stomach almost all the time but if I am successful then the result is huge impact on the business. The mentors in my life have pushed me into these situations when I was sometimes afraid to go on my own. They have also helped me learn from my mistakes, pick myself up, and keep moving ahead. I remember Allan Cotrone who gave me my first performance review at the end of my first internship. I was 18 years old and my job was to refile a set of folders moving them from one filing cabinet to another. As a shy introvert, I completed my assignment diligently by myself and I did what I thought was an impeccable job. Expecting a glowing review, I was disappointed to learn that I did not meet expectations because I didn't work with the team, meet other people, and use all the resources available to me. Flying solo was ok but team work and collaboration was better. That was my first career lesson. I listened and I learned. I returned to the same company the next summer where I ended with a great review....and a lot of new friends too!

My life and career has taken a variety of twists and turns but at every intersection I’ve found a guiding hand to help make what turned out to be the right decisions. Surround yourself with people who will push the boundaries of what is possible and you will do the impossible.


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