As an active member of the broader IT community, I had the pleasure of participating to a varying extent in multiple different developmental and mentorship programs. For example, I loved the Tech Leaders by Women in Technology mentorship program Bee Talents participated in. Recently I switched to the side of actually being the mentor and sharing knowledge (like through our killer new ebook!), but no pride will ever stop me from reaching out for more knowledge 🙂
That is how I came to attend #CitiVolunteers Mentoring Day, hoping to absorb some of the expertise blue-chip-quality mentors were offering to participants. After all, such events are about learning from the best, enriching our perspective and also getting to know challenges our peers face daily. Who knows – one day our organization may encounter similar obstacles. Better prepare!
The crux of the Citibank Mentoring Day was quite simple – to gather local companies that are trailblazers in their respective fields and contrast their experiences with basically Fortune 500 level of business ingenuity and wisdom. Companies that participated by providing mentors are truly impressive, as we had ample opportunity to discuss in-depth business issues with mentors from Facebook, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, and CitiBank.
Citi Handlowy Bank was the host of the event, and it was jumpstarted by a speech from Sławomir Sikora, chairman of the board. Conspiracy jokes aside (he once participated in Bilderberg Group meeting!), he gave an entertaining presentation, which centered on the bank’s CSR activity, which the firm prides itself on very much.
The sessions were brief but pretty packed, and we gathered in small groups around tables with mentors taking turns talking to us and getting to know our business pain points. For me personally, I enjoyed discussions with upper-level managers and acquisition consultants most – especially the latter gave us a good behind the scenes look of how companies do and how they should prepare for acquiring or being acquired.
Out of all the participants I had such a blast of talking to, maybe the most memorable were Michał and Zuzanna from People Skills for Geeks, a quirky and smart tool for developing IT managers soft skills. Best of luck to both of you and I promise to be watching your successes closely 🙂
To sum it up very briefly, do not be afraid to step out of a mentor role. Nothing but maybe weirdly understood professional propriety stops executives from routinely coming down to earth and learning from literally anybody they can. It made me very happy and refreshed my circuits a little bit to become a mentee and turn on “learning mode” to the max in my head again.
The event was obviously also a great opportunity for spreading the Bee Word a little bit, and I had the pleasure of explaining our philosophy in a couple of 1v1 conversation enabled by the event format. The reception was good as always – I think that our idea of using organizational culture as a hugely valuable prism through which we filter candidates has already caught on strongly in Polish young entrepreneur’s heads. This makes me pretty optimistic – both for us as a company and for all the fantastic new business relationships we can build on that foundation.
Huge thanks to Szymon Lach and Michał Żugajewicz, founders of StudyInn foundation for the invitation. StudyInn is an NGO dedicated to improving the economic and business acumen of young Poles and we applaud their mission! I hope to join Citibank Mentoring whenever I can 🙂