iSpeak Blog

The Rewards of Mentoring – Women in Pharma at ISPE

Jeannine Hillmer, B.Ch.E
Women in Pharma - ISPE Pharmaceutical Engineering

The benefits of being a mentee are fairly clear, but people don’t often think about the great rewards gained by being a mentor. By the time you feel like you have the experience to be a mentor, you may wonder how you could fit that into your hectic schedule. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, and many good reasons why you should consider using some of those valuable minutes being a mentor.

While progress has been made, there are still significantly fewer women than men in leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry. Mentoring has been identified as one of the best ways to help women achieve leadership positions and break the glass ceiling. Beyond the altruistic reasons, there are a few reasons that a would-be mentor might not think of.

One of the biggest benefits of being a mentor can be extending your professional and personal network, which can help in landing that next job or even figuring out what positions might interest you. Judy Fink, a long time Genentech employee has an extensive history of participating in mentor programs and had the following to say about some of the benefits she has experienced in giving her time to Genentech’s internal mentoring program.

“In understanding the mentee's role, I've learned about other parts of the organization and gained a better perspective of the business. My mentee also helped me with networking and helped me make new connections inside the organization. Through my mentee I also learned about a part of the organization that I might be interested in a role in, but know nothing about. Last, I've learned to listen better, and not prescribe what worked for me or what I would do. Our paths may be different, and I've learned to appreciate that and even apply that when thinking about my own career.”

Georgia Keresty, Head of Medical Sciences and Development Operations at Takeda, credits an informal mentorship when she was a junior engineer as a large part of what enabled her to be successful and make the right connections in her career. This informal mentorship inspired her to be a mentor to others as a way to give back and also help the industry succeed. Georgia also noted that participating as a mentor in the various organizations she has worked also gave her access and positive exposure to leadership.

Being a mentor can also help with recruiting, employee retention and making a positive name for your company. Additionally, it can give you an insight to what the younger generation is thinking, and they may be able to even point you to tools that they use that may be helpful. Perhaps you are early or mid-career and haven’t had a chance to manage people yet. Mentoring can be an opportunity to develop skills that help you be a good manager and develop people in the future.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
Oprah Winfrey


How Do You Start Being a Mentor?

Now that you have all of these good reasons to do so start by looking around you for people with potential and lending them a hand. Many of the most successful mentor/mentee relationships come out of informal relationships. If you are a new grad, don’t forget about reaching out to those in local colleges or high schools. There are several great professional societies like the Society of Women Engineers that can help with getting you engaged.

Speaking of professional societies, the Women in Pharma® group through ISPE is getting ready to launch the first part of our mentoring program. We will be hosting “Mentor Circles” of approximately 10 people in various locations as well as via teleconferences. We are looking for volunteers to help host these sessions, pick discussion topics, and promote these events. Please contact me if you are interested in volunteering and look out for emails and posts on social media.

Oprah was quoted saying that “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Giving hope to other people is one of the best gifts someone can give and perhaps the biggest reason of all to make the time to mentor others.

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