Networking ranks as a hallmark of CREW-St. Louis. Part and parcel have been mentoring relationships built over the years. This occurred informally as members gathered and built their network. After all, there is a wealth of experience and expertise among the chapter’s nearly 200 members.
So, what would happen if the informal became more formal? What if CREW-St. Louis set up a program that asked members to serve as mentors and then matched that experience and expertise with someone looking for direction, a guiding hand. That’s exactly what CREW-St. Louis launched last year with a pilot program on Mentorship.
A special task force was assigned to launch the program. All members were invited to participate as either a mentor or mentee by filling out a detailed application. After reviewing all of the information, the task force carefully matched nine mentors with nine mentees last April. The pairings were primarily based on three critical factors:
- Achieving the goals of each member whether mentor or mentee;
- Matching partners with the right balance of experience and expertise that the mentor offered to the mentee;
- And avoiding direct competitors to eliminate worries about giving away confidential information and business secrets.
Once this was done, the pairings attended a meeting to discuss the relationship and were provided with CREW Network’s comprehensive Mentor Guide, which includes modules to Engage, Envision, Empower and Expand.
Here’s a snapshot of how two members have embraced the Mentoring program and the benefits of participating.
, vice president of operations at Intelica CRE, has served as a mentor to Kristyn Newbern
, business development manager at S.M. Wilson & Co. Each had specific reasons for joining the program.
Molly knew it was a great opportunity not only to give back but to also expand her skills.
“It’s also a path of self-discovery,” Molly says. “It helps with my job since my role includes training and development. I also attend career fairs and find recruits to serve as interns.”
Molly also remembers her days starting out in the industry as an intern with THF back in 1999. She knows the value of having someone help her navigate the industry’s challenges.
While Kristyn has been working for several years, she is a relative newcomer to the commercial real estate industry. She joined S.M. Wilson, a commercial construction company, late last year. With a background in engineering, including a master’s degree in engineering/industrial management, she was looking for support to better her understanding of and network within the commercial real estate business.
“It was good timing,” Kristyn notes about joining the program. “I had just joined CREW-St. Louis, and I was brand new to the vertical construction business. It was definitely a switch from my previous role in civil engineering.”
Kristyn needed a go-to person, she says, someone who has been in the industry, as well as an established member of CREW-St. Louis. Molly fit the bill.
“When we first sat down, we were on the same page,” Kristyn notes. “We are both goal-setters and list makers. We operate similarly as professionals.”
Serendipity? Yes. But it helped that the duo started by following the Modules supplied by CREW Network during their monthly coffee confabs at Panera on the first Thursday of the month.
“We used the CREW Network binder to get us started,” Molly says. “We eventually decided to keep a journal during our second meeting. We use this to jot down our career challenges, our frustrations, our questions about achieving our work-life balance and our successes.”
The journal ensures that they spend time focusing on solutions for the stresses and challenges they each face.
“We don’t have to think back,” Kristyn says of keeping the journal. “For example, I may have a question or challenge with managing out-of-town conferences with my workload and family life or how I should communicate with senior leadership at our firm.”
The log has been invaluable, Kristyn says. “Whether you are a builder or developer, you have the same challenges and stressors. This just helps us keep on track and remember what we need to share to overcome this. Plus, we also want to share our accomplishments.”
She applauds Molly’s approach. “She’s always available and proactive in bringing suggestions, materials and recommendations. Molly is just so receptive.”
As a new member, Molly also has been instrumental in introducing Kristyn to CREW-St. Louis colleagues. “CREW-St. Louis can be intimidating but the mentoring program opens the door to other members,” Kristyn says.
Equally important, the log serves as a reminder of their goals. During their third meeting, Molly and Kristyn set these:
- Join a CREW-St. Louis committee. They both joined the Ambassadors committee. Molly will even serve as co-chair of the Membership Committee next year and Kristyn will continue as a member of the Ambassadors Committee. “This program has really helped in our commitment and involvement in CREW-St. Louis,” Molly says. “It’s made us both more aware of the value of the organization.”
- Commit to attending a monthly CREW-St. Louis program at least once a quarter, which they have done.
- Do a team-building exercise. They choose paintball.
- Motivate each other and advance their careers. That is a never-ending quest.
- And meet with another mentor-mentee pair, a double date if you will. They recently completed that and gathered some information to improve their monthly meetings.
Not surprisingly, the relationship extends far beyond the professional world, too, Molly says. “We have an agenda of business-related issues to discuss when we meet but then it naturally flows into the personal.”
And that relationship continues to grow. In fact, Kristyn now says that it feels more like the two support each other both as mentors and mentees. “It’s not the case where one person guides and the other listens. You have to work together. We talk through our challenges and opportunities. We share. We also often come to the same conclusion.”
Call it accountability partners. And Molly and Kristyn have become such partners.
The success of Molly and Kristyn’s involvement hasn’t gone unnoticed. Look for the chapter’s Mentorship program to expand and improve in 2019. The Membership Services Committee will send out details for applying early next year.