‘Having someone in my corner who can offer another perspective has been invaluable to me’
This is the first in a series of blog posts looking at some of the employees who are participating in WEX’s Global Mentor Program. Read more about the program here.
When Lisa O’Brien began her professional career after college, she had a mentor who helped her navigate the corporate world. It was so important, she says, to have a guidepost, thought partner and safe place to check in to confirm she was on the right path.
That’s why she didn’t hesitate to sign on to be a mentor when approached with the opportunity at WEX. “That made me want to do this,” says Lisa, director of M&A Integration, of her first mentorship. “I still remember the lessons today.”
And now someone else is benefiting from that history.
A “happy match” based on mutual support
Senior IT auditor Melissa Theriault joined WEX about a year ago and was intrigued when she saw flyers around the office promoting our Global Mentor Program. It would be pretty great, she thought, to have someone to guide her leadership ambitions and help her navigate the corporate environment.
“One of the goals for me was understanding the business,” Melissa says. “I came from an IT and military background, so [it] was a challenge at first, understanding how everything worked.”
Both Lisa and Melissa knew from their first meeting that they were a “happy match,” as Lisa calls it. Melissa laid out where she was in her career, where she wanted to go and what she was looking for in a mentorship.
“This is how I knew she was perfect,” Lisa says. “She was really clear with what she was looking for. She came in with such an energy, and you can’t help but want to be there for somebody who is like that.”
And Melissa was impressed with the organized, multitasking professional before her. “I thought she was someone I could look up to and learn from.”
Quality meetings that run the gamut of topics
The two meet every four to six weeks in Lisa’s office for about an hour. And while it’s sometimes hard to find time to chat in such a fast-paced environment, once they do sit down, the conversations are high-quality and time well spent. The relationship is built on trust, and the two are very open and transparent with each other.
“We both speak pretty frankly,” Lisa says. “There’s no wondering what either of us is [thinking]. That way we spend our time worrying less about how we say things and more about the quality of the conversation.”
What they talk about varies: Are there challenges Melissa is working through? Is there anything she wants to bounce off Lisa? Some days, it’s just about taking a moment to breathe and refocus on Melissa’s goals.
And while the two are just six months into their mentoring relationship, Melissa has already seen the benefits.
“I’ve been wanting to get into a leadership role, and I was a little stressed about navigating that,” Melissa says. “And in talking with Lisa and hearing her experience and how she moved through, it really helped me to just process, ‘OK, I’m in a good spot and good things are going to come.’ It relieved that stress.”
She adds: “Having someone in my corner who can offer another perspective has been invaluable to me as I’ve adjusted to my new position.”
How to make the most of a mentorship
Melissa’s advice to those considering joining WEX’s Global Mentor Program is to have a plan with specific goals in mind so you can find a mentor who can best help you. “Having clarity on what you would like to achieve really helps you to get the most out of your time with your mentor.”
And even though, on paper, Lisa’s role is “mentor” in the mentor-mentee relationship, “I’d say it is a two-way street,” she says. A little-known fact about mentoring? The mentor can get as much out of the relationship as the person they are mentoring.
“I feel like I have a person now, too, if I need to give a call about something,” Lisa says. “The dynamic of the relationship has changed in some ways in that it’s really there for Melissa, but we both come out of it better people.”