Q: What is your go-to career advice?
A: Never get too comfortable. I get energized thinking about and preparing for the next challenge, and believe you have to invest in your own development. This includes building subject matter expertise, developing specialized skills and cultivating relationships that will help you along your career journey. You can do this at all stages of your career, through both formal and informal programs offered by your company and through organizations like NAMIC. For example, mid-level professionals can participate in the Leadership Seminar and rising executives can be nominated for the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP), of which Charter Communications is a Visionary Sponsor. At Charter, we want the best talent in the industry reflecting the diversity of our markets. We are committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, and fostering an environment where everyone can bring their best work forward and has equitable access to opportunities. Internally, we offer several career advancement programs focused on employees at different levels. In addition, our Business Resource Groups offer formal and informal mentoring – an important tool that can unlock opportunities.
Q: Why is mentoring so important?
A: Because of the impact! A good mentor supports, provides guidance and can set you on a path to success. In my first job out of law school, I clerked for a judge who also served as my mentor and set an example of integrity and professionalism that continues to serve me well today. On the flip side, being a mentor is tremendously rewarding. It gives you an opportunity to build your leadership skills by helping you better understand people and how to motivate them. A true leader isn’t just a supervisor—it’s someone who knows how to activate others’ strengths to meet the organization’s goals.
Q: What is the secret to successful mentoring?
A: First, there has to be trust between the mentor and mentee so that they can be candid about their concerns and open to asking questions – even those questions that may be uncomfortable. Second, they have to be committed to sticking with the relationship for at least a year, ideally longer. My most successful mentee relationships are into their second or third year. In that kind of time period, you can really see someone evolve and grow.
Q: In addition to mentors, how important are sponsors?
A: To reach an executive role and succeed, you need both mentors and sponsors. In addition to providing guidance, a sponsor opens doors by making introductions and championing you to others. As a woman of color, I think it’s particularly important to be a sponsor because so many people of color struggle with sponsorship. On average, only 8%
of people of color have sponsors. It behooves any leader to mentor and sponsor others; both are critical to succession planning and maintaining organizational excellence. I’m proud that Charter is fostering the kind of environment that supports professional development, including formal and informal opportunities to build mentoring relationships.
Q: How should someone go about finding a mentor and/or sponsor?
A: The best ways to find a mentor are through a formal program like NAMIC's L. Patrick Mellon Mentorship Program or to proactively reach out to someone you respect and ask them to be your mentor. Sponsorship typically works the other way around. In my case, I choose to sponsor women who are courageous, smart, enthusiastic and willing to take risks, because I know these are the women who will make good use of any efforts I undertake to help open doors for them.