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Learning and Growing with a Mentor

by Guest Writter
Linda Drumright, General Manager, Clinical Trial Optimization Solutions, IMS

Mentoring has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. Over the years, I have learned a tremendous amount about myself from my work with some of my most determined mentees. Regardless of whether we had similar industry affiliations or career disciplines along our unique paths we were able to help each other expand through our commitment to each other.

Overall, I learned that effective mentoring comes down to this:

  • Take Ownership of Your Growth: The mentee must “own” her personal and professional growth.  Accepting that she and she alone is accountable for her development plan and what happens in her career is pivotal. No one else will care for her growth as much as she will, even if she is mentored well or met with luck along the way.
  • Make the Investment to ‘Go Get It’: A mentee must respect herself enough to invest in that growth; spending time reflecting on where she struggles in life, at work, in health; spending time figuring out what she wants; networking to find the right people to help her overcome her challenges.
  • Mutual Trust Trumps All: Mentor and mentee must develop a rapport and build trust quickly to create that “safe place” for openness, revealing vulnerabilities and getting to the crux without fear of repercussion or consequence; Listen, ask questions, be curious, share failures as well as successes.
  • Treat Time Together Wisely: They must respect each others’ time and use it well; Come prepared; Show up with intention; Get to the point; Meet as often as they can while both adhering to this rule and still creating value for each other.
  • Know When to Say When: And finally, if it’s not working, they should cut their losses; perhaps it’s not the right timing or not the right match; Be honest in ending the relationship as well.

As a CEO of an emerging business, I was challenged to find the right mentors that could provide that safe place for me, and in a high growth environment it was even more imperative to get the right help and get it fast.  I found meeting with CEOs of early or emerging stage companies from varied industries to be the best avenue.  I joined the CEO Business Forum in my area to gain access to a number of individuals on a monthly basis who could give me insight, provide perspective on my challenges, advise me on a variety of matters, educate me, point me in the right direction and help me grow.  My board was not a “safe place” to do that and my network wasn’t strong enough to give me access to the breadth of experiences I needed, so gaining insight from the perspectives of 10-20 CEOs every month has been a godsend.

Leading a high growth venture can challenge even the most experienced CEO. Find a mentor (or several) and use their time well. You may not have time to waste.


About the Author

Linda Drumright is the General Manager, Clinical Trial Optimization Solutions for IMS, responsible for delivering optimization products, services and data to clinical trial sponsors and CROs worldwide. Linda joined IMS in 2012 with the acquisition of San Francisco-based DecisionView, where she served as President and CEO since 2010. Prior to DecisionView, Linda consulted to several venture-funded enterprises, and before that ran product development at a number of leading software companies, including DigitalThink, Hyperion, Arbor Software and Sybase. Linda holds a BA in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley, and completed the Haas School of Business Executive Program.

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