Mentor/Mentee Spotlight: Making time to work on yourself
December 20, 2019
• Rachel Nijssen, Commercial Manager at Safran Landing Systems Canada
• Rebekah McCauley, Customer Support Specialist at Safran Power Units Dallas
The Safran North America Mentorship Program was launched in 2017 to pair early career Safran employees with mid-to-late career professionals who provide guidance on career development and advancement in areas such as communication, leadership and technical skills.
More than 1,200 miles separate Safran team members Rachel Nijssen and Rebekah McCauley, however these two maintain a close – and mutually-beneficial – professional relationship thanks to the Safran North America Mentorship Program.
Nijssen, Commercial Manager at Safran Landing Systems Canada, has been with the company for seven years and joined the mentorship program in 2019.
"I believe this is a great opportunity to work on your career and skills, as well as to define how you want to grow and how you want to change," explained Nijssen. "There is always a lot of work and it is hard to make time for this. The mentorship meetings force you to make time to work on yourself."
Nijssen – an account manager for multiple customers in North America, responsible for all commercial and contractual aspects – was paired with Rebekah McCauley, a Customer Support Specialist with 3.5 years of experience working at Safran Power Units Dallas.
McCauley joined the Safran North America Mentorship program because she wanted to "pick the brain" of a seasoned professional on many important topics. She added: "Having the benefit of learning from someone who has been in the workforce and with Safran longer than I seemed liked it would be – and has been – a wonderful opportunity."
The two answered key questions related to their participation in the Safran North America Mentorship Program:
Has the program benefitted you?
Nijssen: Yes, it has been great to meet Rebekah and it is an opportunity to better understand her job and Safran Power Units. I learned from Rebekah while discussing different topics and situations. Also, it has been interesting to discuss cultural differences between Canada and the U.S.
McCauley: The program has absolutely benefitted me. A topic we discussed often throughout the program was knowing your value, confidence, how to be assertive, and leadership skills. For a female in a historically male-dominated industry, these are important topics to discuss, and I feel I have a better grasp of how to achieve certain career goals using what I have learned from my mentor.
What has impressed you the most about your mentor/mentee?
Nijssen: Rebekah came from a very different industry. It is admirable how she manages her current job and is working on the next steps in her career.
McCauley: It is difficult to choose just one, but the thing that has impressed me the most about my mentor is her emotional intelligence. Throughout the program, we spoke a lot about how to navigate interpersonal relationships both internally and externally, which are very important in both of our positions. Based on examples she shared, it seems that she has an incredible ability to manage projects and effect change by building strong interpersonal relationships with her colleagues and customers. That's an innate leadership skill that not many people possess.
What are your secrets for a successful mentor/mentee relationship?
Nijssen: You have to be willing to make time for it. Also, I think trust and confidentiality are keys to the success of the program. It is a great opportunity to exchange experiences with somebody that knows Safran but is not directly involved in the work.
McCauley: Be flexible and be honest. Flexibility is key because you are both busy professionals, and there are only so many hours in the day. We had to reschedule our twice-monthly call often because one or both of us had urgent matters pop up, and this is to be expected. But we were both committed to touching base and making it work, so it did. Additionally, even though it was difficult for me as a mentee to be vulnerable at times, honesty is really important for both the mentor and mentee to get the most out of program. The mentee should be honest about their feelings and challenges they face, and mentors should be honest with their feedback and sharing personal experiences. I believe these are both important elements of a mutually beneficial mentorship experience.