At Copperleaf®, we believe talent development is key to employee engagement and retention. The Copperleaf mentorship program is a 4-month volunteer program where mentees can share challenges and gain advice and practical skills from experienced mentors, from our CEO and leadership to team leads and employees across the entire company. We spoke to Sarah Ziegler, a consultant on our Customer Experience team, who launched our mentorship program, and her mentor Jody Kidd about their experience participating in the program.
Why did you start the mentorship program at Copperleaf?
Sarah: "I joined Copperleaf in 2018 right after I graduated from university. Since it was my first time entering the workforce, I had a lot of questions about how to navigate this new environment and wasn't sure who to turn to. By chance, I found a mentor outside of Copperleaf who helped guide me and realized how great it would be if this type of opportunity was available to others within the company."
What did you hope to get out of being a mentee/mentor?
Sarah: "I had difficulty finding the confidence to speak up, ask questions, and take risks at work—which I felt inhibited my ability to excel in my career. I had ad hoc mentors outside of Copperleaf, but nothing translated directly to my role or industry. I knew that in order to succeed, I would need to develop a relationship with an experienced colleague who I could trust and be vulnerable and open with."
Jody: "I didn't have a mentor when I started my career, but it sure would have helped! I joined the mentorship program because I wanted to meet people outside of my department, learn from people who are new to the company, and share some of my experiences to help them be successful and navigate through their career journeys. I was extremely fortunate for my first pairing to be with Sarah. She was always open, genuine, and really prepared for each session."
Jody has taught me to stop looking at taking risks as an opportunity to make a mistake or fail, but rather as an opportunity to learn and grow.
How have you found the mentorship program while working remotely?
Sarah: "Jody and I started off meeting in person and transitioned to meeting remotely halfway through the program. I found it was a good opportunity to take a break from our day-to-day tasks which was great for our mental health. It also gave us the chance to share best practices that our teams had implemented—including informal virtual chats and the use of new technologies—to help adapt to this new remote working environment."
Jody: "I think working remotely has really opened up the mentorship program to all of our global employees, making it a true worldwide initiative."
What's the best advice you've received from your mentor?
Sarah: "Jody and I had been working on developing my confidence for a few weeks, but I found that I was still hesitant to ask questions or share my opinions in a large group. So we made a plan to both speak up at an upcoming company meeting.
I sat through the meeting afraid to speak. Then Jody asked a question and I realized that everything was okay. Seeing her lead by example gave me the confidence to speak up. I wouldn't have been able to do that without her lead and I look back at this moment whenever I'm nervous to speak.
Jody has taught me to stop looking at taking risks as an opportunity to make a mistake or fail, but rather as an opportunity to learn and grow. Taking calculated risks and being tolerant of mistakes are key sub-tenets of our culture as well."
How has the mentorship program impacted your development here at Copperleaf?
Sarah: "The mentorship program has been instrumental to my development at Copperleaf. Before being partnered with Jody, I was afraid to share my opinions both within the company and externally when working with clients. She helped me create a tangible plan to increase my confidence and I now know that I have the tools required to be successful in my job and life!"
I joined the mentorship program because I wanted to meet people outside of my department, learn from younger and newer colleagues, and help them through their career journeys.
What advice would you give to others who are considering becoming a mentee/mentor?
Sarah: "Do it! Being a mentee is a great opportunity to learn new skills, work on your professional development, and gain perspective from someone in a different department. You'll be surprised by how much you can learn in four months!"
Jody: "I'd advise mentors to be open, prepared, thoughtful, and respectful. Also, listen carefully because it's a great opportunity for you too!"
What are you most excited about for the future?
Sarah: "Jody provided me with invaluable advice that I continue to use every day. I'm very excited to pass this knowledge on to future Copperleafers to help them take risks and succeed!"
Jody: "As Copperleaf continues to grow, I'm excited to see young employees like Sarah grow and build their career paths."
As one of Canada's fastest-growing companies, Copperleaf is always looking for talented individuals to join our team! Check out our current job openings here.
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