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TEMPO Milwaukee's 24th annual Mentor Awards are on Thursday.
TEMPO Milwaukee's 24th annual Mentor Awards are on Thursday. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

2014 TEMPO Mentor Award winners talk training, mentoring

OnMilwaukee.com is proud to a be a sponsor of TEMPO Milwaukee’s 24th annual Mentor Awards this Thursday, Feb. 20 at The Pfister Hotel. 

I was also honored to be on the judging committee. The 2014 recipients are Mary Dowell of Johnson Controls, Gwen Jackson civic leader, Mark Sabljak of The Business Journal and corporate winner Rockwell Automation.

In preparation for the event, I asked them all some questions about mentoring. 

Rockwell Automation won for its commitment to mentoring its female employees. Rockwell Automation's Sue Shimoyama, VP Global Sales & Marketing Operations, said that her company "believes that the foundation for success in meeting our strategic goals and creating differentiation are the employees."

Shimoyama said that Rockwell is "committed to making this a workplace where our employees are excited to come to work. Where they can build great careers, where they can do their best work, and trust that the company will contribute its best to them."

"Rockwell Automation does not have a formal mentoring program but rather view mentoring as part of our culture of inclusion and support – woven into the fabric of our organization," said Shimoyama.

OnMilwaukee: What does the TEMPO Mentor Award mean to you?

Sue Shimoyama: Receiving this award is an honor. This award acknowledges and recognizes the tremendous efforts of many leaders, managers and employees across the company to make Rockwell Automation an inclusive workplace where our employees can do their best work. It is very rewarding to be recognized for something that we do every day as a matter of doing business. It is always gratifying to be recognized for the organization’s commitment to its employees and to the community, but that is not why we have embarked on this journey to a more inclusive workplace – we do it not for the recognition and awards.

OMC:  What role does mentoring have in developing the careers of women within your company? 

SS:  Mentoring and sponsorship of women plays a crucial role in their career and professional development. Through engagement with the employee affinity groups, there is access to executive leaders, who serve as role models for employees. Mentoring relationships provide guidance on how to navigate the corporate culture, model behaviors, build networks and how to break down barriers to success. This has been evident within Rockwell Automation.  Leaders at Rockwell Automation share their experiences, challenges and lessons learned which they encountered throughout their career recognizing that these experiences provide motivation and support for women in Rockwell Automation. They understand the influence that they have as leaders in the organization and generously use that influence to assist others in growing and developing.

Two of the individual winners, Mary Dowell and Mark Sabljak also answered a few questions about mentoring. 

OMC: Describe a pivotal moment in a mentoring relationship that made you realize the significance of your contribution and your ability to affect change in the life of your mentee?

Mary Dowell: I realized this during my work in Human Resources. I had many opportunities to assist candidates with their approach when interviewing with the hiring manager. Sometimes, it was as simple as recommending appropriate attire, or ensuring that they stay focused on answering the questions relative to the job in a clear and succinct manner. When an individual was hired as a result of this counseling, I knew I had been successful in having a positive impact on their professional growth.

Mark Sabjljak: Honestly, the first time I really thought about myself as a "mentor" was when I was thanked in the program at a Tempo Mentor Awards event by an individual I had been meeting with. 

What types of topics do you discuss with your mentees?  Your mentor? 

Mary Dowell:  It is important to me to always be seen as one who is open and receptive when I am approached by others seeking my guidance and support. I realize that development often occurs on both a professional and a personal level; therefore, I am always willing to engage in a variety of topics when mentoring others.  

Mark Sabljak: With my mentees, the key is listening to what is challenging them, not what I want to talk about. More often than not, I think the major issues are how to handle business relationships and how to strengthen them. I have been lucky to have many mentors…my dad being the best. But Al McGuire was a significant mentor who pushed me to achieve more individually.

OMC:  What does the TEMPO Mentor Award mean to you?

Mary Dowell: I am humbled and honored to receive the TEMPO Mentor Award. Mentoring has always been a part of my DNA, and it is important to me to be a resource for others who are navigating their personal and professional careers. To me, the Award recognizes my efforts in "paying it forward." 

Mark Sabljak: In the "Spiderman" movies, they say, "With great power, comes great responsibility." I may not have great power, but as the head of a communications operation, I do have a responsibility to not only fairly cover the news, but also to shine a light on challenges and issues within our region. The inequality that many in our community face – whether because of gender, race, disability – has been a driving force for many of the things the Business Journal has done over the years.

OMC:  What role does mentoring have in developing the careers of women?

Mary Dowell: I strongly believe in the power of mentoring. I have always been fortunate to have a mentor in the various stages of my life. Mentoring is a priceless resource. It benefits both the person who is giving as well as the person who is receiving. Mentoring is truly a win-win for all involved. It is a gift that we all have the capacity to give.

Mark Sabljak: Even a man can see that men have a built-in advantage in many areas of society. One way to get past that is for those who have made it to share what they have learned through mentoring.

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