The Type Of Mentor Every Working Woman Needs
Words: mater mea
Candace Matthews has held many enviable job titles in her career, but she didn't get there by herself. She lets us in on the power of a good mentor.
Before becoming the chief marketing office of Amway, a leading health and beauty company, Candace Matthews had a number of positions at many well-known companies, such as Coca-Cola and SoftSheen-Carson.
But her impressive career got its start when Matthews—then 26—joined General Mills as an assistant product manager. She was recruited by Ann Fudge, who later became CEO of marketing company Young & Rubicam. Fudge, a woman of color herself, became a much-needed mentor and friend as Matthews began navigating the often tricky waters of the corporate world.
That relationship has been invaluable to Matthews (the two women are still incredibly close), and it's one she encourages young women to find for themselves. Matthews gives some great insight on finding a mentor.
"Find a mentor who is willing to be very honest. Many times, when you are so focused on driving your career, you don’t take the time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly in yourself. A good mentor does that with you. She doesn’t allow you to say 'Oh, well, this was their part.' She'll say 'What was your part of the situation? Let’s talk about that. What are you going to do differently? Now come in here, cry, get it out, and put your game face back on, because you’re going back out there to deal with it.'
"You want people to be very honest. You want people to say, 'This is the deal. Understand what’s going on around you.' And guess what? It’s not always going to be fair! So how do you distinguish yourself in a world that’s not always fair? You deal with it in a way that doesn’t compromise who you are or your values.
"Carla Harris at Morgan Stanley wrote a book called Expect to Win that talks about having both a mentor and a sponsor. A sponsor is the person inside your company telling decision-makers what they need to know about you. A mentor is someone who can be outside your company telling you what you need to know about yourself. You need both to help you navigate your career.
"When you’re in a job, understand that it’s a two-way street: what you are bringing to them and what skills they are helping you develop. You have to understand when the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial.
"Realize that we’ve both given and received the best that we can at this point. That way, you can look at your career and say 'What do I need to do next? What skills do I need to put in my arsenal? Where am I going to acquire those skills?' Then it becomes a journey versus staying in a role that’s no longer a benefit to each party.
Get more great advice from Candace Matthews by reading our profile on her.