‘You Own Your Career’ — How You Can Take Charge of It Using the Power of Mentorship

Sponsored by Eaton

Molly Murphy and Keisha Watt. Photos courtesy of Eaton.

Molly Murphy and Keisha Watt. Photos courtesy of Eaton.

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“Remember that you own your career; take initiative and be intentional about the steps you take to reach your goals.” That’s one key piece of advice that Keisha Watt, Senior IT Business Relationship Manager, Aerospace, at Eaton has for you. 

As for how you can take charge, well, you should consider finding a mentor — or mentoring someone else! As a mentor, you not only get to help someone else, but you get the opportunity to grow yourself. 

“The best part of being a mentor is how much I learn from the individuals I mentor,” explains Molly Murphy, the SVP of Sales North America. “Their perspective and questions provide an opportunity for me to reflect.” Watt agrees with this, noting that as a mentor of five Women of Color over the past year, she’s been able to keep discussions about how to navigate a career and build relationships at the forefront of her mind.

As for finding a mentor, this can help you in ways you may not expect. For example, Murphy shares that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the support of her multiple mentors. “My mentors were able to provide advice and guidance that sometimes I didn’t want to hear but was critical for me to address gaps in my own experiences and learning,” she tells us. 

For Watt, having mentors has proved equally imperative — for instance for better understanding a new company. “It has helped to have someone that can help me better understand the organization, as well as provide insightful perspectives,” says Watt.

Mentorship is clearly important in both these leaders’ careers, but how did they make the most of this relationship? For Murphy, the key to a successful mentor/mentee relationship is to have fun. “Getting to know each other on a personal level can add a new layer to the relationship,” she says. “The more comfortable you are with the person, the easier it can be to ask tough questions.”

Watt agrees that getting to know the other person in this relationship is key. “Don’t just jump into career talk,” says Watt. “It is important to first build a foundation of trust. If you don’t have trust, it will be challenging to get the most out of the relationship. I know that my mentor cares about me as a human being and when she challenges me, I know it is coming from a good place.”

Here, Murphy and Watt share their best advice for mentorship, give us an inside look into how mentorship works at Eaton, and more!

To start, what are the top traits that you think a good mentor should have?

Murphy

  • Exceptional listening and questioning skills. We often underestimate the importance of asking the right question and how this helps an individual get their own answer. 

  • Strong communication skills. This involves being transparent with an emotional IQ to deliver both positive feedback as well as opportunities for development to a mentee. 

Watt:

  • An Interest in really getting to know their mentee, showcased by making the time and being focused during sessions.

  • Being empathetic and caring.

  • The ability to give constructive feedback in a positive way.

  • Being curious and recognizing that there are things they can learn as well.

On the other hand, what traits/skills should a mentee have to make the most of their mentorship experience?

Murphy

  • A mentee needs to be a learner. They must want to get feedback and be willing to be vulnerable around discussion topics that are important for them.

  • A good mentee is an action-oriented person — they need to take the steps they discover in the process to get to the next place in their career.

Watt:

  • A good mentee is open to the journey.

  • They should embrace constructive criticism — the goal is to make you better.

  • A mentee needs the courage to let their mentor know if something is not working.

Next, can you tell us how mentorship works at Eaton? 

Murphy: We have a formal mentor program that I participate in; however, we also have a significant amount of mentoring that happens outside of the formal program. I believe that each of my leaders has no less than eight people that they are mentoring in one way or another.

Watt: I am actually a mentee in our formal program. I also have informal mentors (in IT, Aerospace, and other parts of the company), which is great.

Do you have any advice on how to find a mentor or how to become a mentor if there isn’t a formal program in place at your company?

Murphy: One of the biggest challenges is that people want a mentor at the top of the organization so they have access to leaders; however, this is not always the right place to start.  Finding a mentor who is not too much higher than you in the organization can help the discussions be more relevant for the mentee and provide access to more immediate opportunities.

Watt: Think about leaders who are in positions that you want to be in and consider them as potential mentors. You can reach out to them to see if they are open to having short touchpoints at a steady frequency. Make sure that you have topics to discuss in these meetings. For example, in the first meeting, I recommend you explain why you wanted to connect and review your background (e.g., family and career history). You can then learn about theirs as well.   

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Watt: I would just like to encourage women to take risks! Sometimes we talk ourselves out of taking new positions or opportunities because we don’t meet all the qualifications or there are personal barriers. I remember when I was offered a position that required me to move out of state. I had a young family (an eight-year-old and two-year-old twins) and wasn’t sure. But my mentor encouraged me to take the job; he said everything would work out. That was nine years ago, and I must say that everything actually has worked out. 



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