CP: You have two enterprises, WiseHer and ChannelWise, both of which provide access to experts in a number of fields. WiseHer’s goal is to “empower women to rise higher” and ChannelWise’s mission is to “empower the channel to grow.” Where do you see areas of overlap? Where do you see unique needs for women vs. the channel?
KR: When I started wiseHer it was focused on women but not exclusive of men. From the beginning we had those who identify as male as experts and members. Through the COVID-19 pandemic though, the challenges of all small businesses were illuminated. We started to see more and more support needed from the entire demographic.
We are launching ChannelWise to help partners get the support they need as well as to help vendors supply it. Live events have not come back entirely, so the engagement model must change. In addition, the platform has evolved from being one of an expert marketplace to a technology platform that can be adapted for many use cases. Vendors and communities can use our platform to connect partners to internal as well as external resources.
CP: What has your experience with mentoring been? How do you think it has affected your career path?
KR: In my experience, the word "mentor" suggests a 1:1 long term relationship. Many don’t have time or that. I see mentoring more as what we offer on our platforms: advisory — help on what you need, when you need it.
I have had so many "mentors" over the years, but I have found none better than those here in tech. It has affected my career path by opening my eyes to possibilities. I've been so blessed to have a deep bench of advisers — what some would call “mentors” — and could not have gotten where I am without their support.
CP: What do you think is the most important thing about mentoring?
KR: I think making sure that you understand what it is and why you are looking for it. Mentoring versus coaching versus sponsoring versus advisory versus therapy — that’s what you need to look at. How do you define mentorship and what are you looking to get from it?
I think clear expectations are the best in any relationship. But in my mind, mentoring is a combination of all of those things. You have to be willing to listen, empathize and lift the other person up. Give them a boost of confidence or a framework for difficult conversations. Shepherd the rise of someone's career.
CP: If you could offer only one piece of advice on mentoring, what would it be?
KR: Be clear about your expectations. What is it you want as an outcome?
I really don't like it when I go to conferences, particularly women's conferences, when the advice from the stage is "find a mentor.” I see the faces of the folks in the audience looking around like "Who can I find for a mentor?” It’s not that simple.
Executives and others in technology must be willing to put in the time and effort. But they can only do this when everyone understands the expectations..
Don't go looking for a mentor. Instead, find people who can become part of your "bench" and pull the right levers when you need them to. If you do find a long-term mentor out of those conversations, it will be more natural. Those are the relationships that tend to last.