Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do You Have a Role Model?

On Dec 31st, I sat down with a cup of strong Cuban coffee and began to reflect on my defining moments this past year. I wanted to connect my dots from 2008 and look forward to 2009.

Mentoring has been a major focus for me and an important aspect of my life that provides inspiration and sense of purpose. It is also a way to follow the legacy of my mother Dr. Noemi Perez who passed away last February (her wiki is available in spanish). At the time, we were working together on the book “Connecting My Dots”. She was a great supporter of this work because the book is about mentoring and the challenges of having a successful career while balancing family and marriage. She was a role model not just to me, but also a role model and mentor to many young women and men.

The year 2008 was a year of personal loss, but also a time of personal growth. First, I had the unique opportunity to sponsor the 2008 Mentoring program for the eCommerce organization and to collaborate with two fantastic women – Lori and Siobhan – who were the driving force behind the success of this program. I met Miriam, a young dynamic woman, who is developing a framework for a Mentoring program targeted to Latino employees. And I began working with a group of women from NCTA WISE organization, developing a Mentoring program for STEM professionals that we plan to launch as a pilot this year for the Charlotte region under the theme: “Geek is Chic”.

Passion and motivation lead to success. People, particularly young people, need to have role models that inspire them. The need for successful role models is even more important among young high achieving women.

Even more, the feedback of many participants in our mentoring program told us that women like to learn from real personal stories of other women that have achieved their goals and overcome barriers along the journey. That’s why I decided to talk about mentoring through personal stories of success and failures. And by the way, men also like to make connections to personal stories.

Mentoring young women, particularly in the IT profession helped me recognize even more, the relevance of the dilemma I had personally faced many times during my career, including the pressure and sacrifices imposed on women in balancing a career and family.

To achieve career success many women make substantial trade-offs: staying single, getting a divorce, or not having kids. Young high achieving women are put onto a successful, yet demanding career development path with very little guidance or leadership training on how to apply these success principles to their personal lives. When they see that a large percentage of high-achieving women do not have children or long-lasting relationships, these young women fear that they will not be able to have a family if they choose a leadership career.

As a mentor and a mother, I always ask myself a question: what are we doing to provide guidance to young women in their path to achieve multidimensional success on their own terms?

More women are choosing an executive and leadership career path, but at the same time career success requires that we make trade-offs and learn how to prioritize across career, family and personal demands. Recently through the Anita Borg group on LinkedIn, I became aware of Mentoring-in-a-Box toolkit available at NCWIT. This toolkit provides an excellent mentoring curriculum and tools for women in IT that are trying to balance the demands of a success career and family needs. I suggest you check out this toolkit. You can also join Women 2.0 LinkedIn group for professional networking.

When I think about Mentoring, I think about the importance of role models in the professional and personal development of young women.

When I think about Success, I always remember a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the things you think you cannot do”

Take Away: To achieve success you need to enlist your family and spouse to support your goals. You also need to have the courage to make trade-offs and the determination to make sacrifices.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

llie,

This is wonderful! I always knew you had great talent........I see it is now time for you to share with others...I want to buy a copy for my daughter! I am inspired!
Thank you,
see you on the courts!
Nanette

Melinda.U.K said...

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Anonymous said...

Your drive and perseverance should be an inspiration on itself. Wonderful to have published such aids to women everywhere...GP

jfg450 said...

I have read your book and have recommended it to my patients and friends. Gives a tremendous outlook in life for working women and men. There is always a way to skin a cat. When life closes a door, somewhere, god opens a window. I wish someday I could meet you personally
Thank you
J. F. Garcia MD
Jacksonville Florida

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