How WINiT Helped: Career Advancement through Mentoring and Networking
Kristen was particularly interested in getting involved in an organization that is led by and focuses on the unique career development challenges of women in the travel industry. Although she was interested in the range of programs WINiT offered, Kristen was initially drawn to the WINiT Mentor Program. She was keen to develop a relationship with a leader in the industry, someone who could share his or her experiences and serve as a resource for addressing and resolving workplace challenges.
The WINiT Mentor Program is a self-guided program for women and men in the travel, meeting, event and exhibition industries. Participants – both Mentors and Mentees – engage in a matching process to ensure the goals and objectives of both Mentor and Mentee are complimentary and aligned. The WINiT Program provides Mentors and Mentees with a comprehensive yet simple set of guidelines for managing the mentoring process. The program suggests Mentors and Mentees have an initial conversation to set goals, agree to regular meetings and a follow a process for facilitating meetings so goals and objectives are met.
After completing the Mentor-Mentee matching, Kristen was first connected with David Holyoke, President, Travel Leaders Corporate LLC, as her Mentor in the Pilot Program. Kristen and Dave had an existing professional connection as Travel Leaders and Kristen’s previous employer, Cvent, had a business partnership, creating immediate common ground and helping the Mentor-Mentee relationship develop organically. Additionally, David and Kristen are both tenacious and hyper-focused on growing their careers, having both rapidly advanced their careers within a relatively short time within the industry.
Kristen and David met every four to five weeks for 30 minutes for a six-month period (January 2015 – June 2015). Kristen came to each meeting with a clear agenda and set of objectives. Often times Kristen would come to the meetings seeking advice as to how to handle certain situations or opportunities and how those situations played out between meetings. WINiT also provided program participants with a variety of tools and third-party resources to support Mentors and Mentees in understanding both of their respective roles as well as guide communications.
After the WINiT Pilot Mentor Program came to a close, Kristen then participated in the WINiT Program (January 2015 – June 2015) and was matched with Susan Lichtenstein, Procurement Operations Director for Cisco. Kristen and Susan fell very easily into the Mentor-Mentee relationship. Susan immediately recognized Kristen’s ambition and helped Kristen expand her view of and exposure to a broader range of career opportunities within the Travel industry.
“I believe in order to keep growing in your own career, you have to make time to give away what someone so freely gave to you. Mentorship is a part of that experience, and the reward is always greater for the Mentor than the Mentee.” commented Susan. “I learned so much from Kristen, and the one thing that stood out for me was, never stop following your dreams.”
Simultaneous to her participation in the WINiT Mentor Program, Kristen was becoming more involved in WINiT, serving as the Administrator for the organization’s Partnership Liaison Committee and expanding her professional network to include a growing number of WINiT Members, including Susie McKernan. Susie is a Director at Craig Bradford Associates, Inc, and met Kristen via LinkedIn connection as they had many mutual industry connections. Bolstered by the insight and confidence gained through her experience in the WINiT Mentor program, Kristen worked with Susie on a full scale job. She and Susie worked together to identify roles that met Kristen’s desire to grow her career in a new direction by applying both her core capabilities and interest in learning and developing new skills.
Almost 18 months after beginning her membership with WINiT, Kristen has accepted a new role in December 2015 as Director of Sales, Global Meetings and Events- Strategic Meetings Management for World Travel, Inc. She continues to maintain informal Mentor-Mentee relationships with both Dave and Susan, recognizing each as trusted advisors and champions of her career development. Kristen is also thrilled to have Susie as a valued member of her network and credits Susie for finding and connecting her to her new role and team at World Travel, Inc.
“WINiT has played a significant and powerful role in my career. From the resources to access to other amazing professionals, I am so grateful to be a part of this organization and look forward to continuing to playing an active role as a Member and, now, a Mentor.”