Last week AFCEA International unveiled plans for a new mentorship program titled The Mentoring Continuum. The group will have its first meeting October 2013. Kay Kapoor, President at AT&T Government Solutions, and Renny DiPentima, former President and CEO at SRA International (SRA), lead the kickoff luncheon at Maggiano’s in Tysons II to discuss the benefits of having mentors throughout a career and the importance of building a network of trusted relationships.
Renny DiPentima, was Kay Kapoor’s former Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland early on in her career. The two lost touch for a number of years, but have since reconnected and continue to have a strong relationship as mentor and mentee.
DiPentima provided the filled room with a few pieces of practical advice for those interested becoming mentors:
- Don’t give answers, give advice
- Be a mentor, not an advisor: being a mentor is a personal commitment
- Business is about people
- “My inventory went home with me every day,” DiPentima said, when discussing his time as CEO of SRA.
Kapoor provided tips for those interested in pursuing mentorship to include:
- Use mentorship to expand your network outside of your company and industry
- Choose a mentor who is “two levels up and one removed”
- If under pressure, always ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?”
- Don’t ever think you are successful enough to not need a mentor
Michelle Richards, Director at AT&T, is a mentee of Kay Kapoor.
The panelists concluded that professional mentorship is a give and take process that requires ownership by both parties. The mentor and mentee connection is a practical and structured relationship that requires personal commitment and engagement.