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The Power of Mentorship and Building a Network



On Friday, September 30th 2016, Molina Healthcare’s Enterprise Women in Business (EWIB) group hosted its third annual women’s networking event. This one day conference focused on the Power of Mentorship and Building a Network with featured speaker, Nancy Ridge, Executive Vice President, Telecom Brokers, and co-founder of Women in the Channel (WiC), a group that connects female leaders in the telecom IT channels to promote collaboration, grow their businesses, as well as support and mentor each other through career and life choices. Nancy founded Telecom Brokers in 2005 with a vision to create a strong network of successful agents, engaged vendor partners, and high performing employees. Her focus on building authentic relationships and process automation created a company ecosystem resulting in growth of over 300%. As a Board Member for Channel Partners in 2010-2011 and co-founder of the “Women in the Channel” telecommunications group, Nancy is actively shaping the telecom channel as a leader in the industry.

In anticipation of Nancy Ridge and the topic of mentorship, the excitement in the room continued to build as each of the 100+ conference attendees checked in and began participating in the first of two ice breaker activities called “Find Your Match”. As part of the ‘Find Your Match’ activity, attendees made connections with peers, expanded their network, and also identified commonalities with Molina colleagues as well as other attendees from Long Beach State and the City of Long Beach. Ilona Bassin, Director of Molina’s Enterprise Programs, officially launched the session with a big welcome and a second ice breaker activity, running from table to table gathering attendee responses on Molina’s culture and values as well as how they relate to the qualities important for excellent mentors and mentees to embody.

Ilona noted, “We opened the event with icebreaking activities that encouraged group participation and self-reflection. The ‘Find Your Match’ networking activity allowed participants to get up from their seats and go find other women that had things in common with them. That really added some energy to the morning! The ‘Who Inspired You’ activity facilitated by Cynthia Vuguin, HR Program Manager was meant for reflecting on the mentors we had in our lives and to inspire us to pay it forward by mentoring others.” Ilona’s and Cynthia’s high energy and exuberance encouraged active participation and added to the intensity and positive energy of the entire experience.. Jean Siegel, Manager from the Healthcare Systems and Services (HSS) Emerging Technology Group (ETG), found this conference to be “Fantastic! It was amazing how well organized the event was, from the room setup to the valuable information presented by Nancy Ridge. I also found the ice breaker activities compelling as it gave me an opportunity to connect and network with ladies from other parts of Molina as well as outside the company.”

Now primed and ready for the main event, Nancy Ridge took the stage speaking to a full house of interested professional women. She began by polling the audience with questions focused on mentorship and gender inequality. All in the room could respond in real time and see live results for each poll question asked. The polls showed that 72% of the attendees came with the primary objective to learn more about the value of mentorship, to learn new leadership skills, to explore mentorship as a way to advance one’s career, and to connect with like women and share solutions for growth and balance. 80% of those attending see themselves as role models, 95% would be interested in becoming a mentor or mentee and a majority of those who attended indicated that mentoring programs would be their first choice when ranking post-event activities in order of preference. Also gleaned from this live poll is the fact that 74% of the attendees felt that gender inequality negatively impacts their career. These poll results further reinforced the need and strong desire for a mentorship program at Molina and that the women of Molina want to learn and evolve from each other’s experiences. Nancy’s message fell right in line with these findings. In her presentation, Nancy emphasized the benefits of mentor relationships while addressing some of the barriers that limit participation in mentorship programs. She spoke of individual objectives, finding a mentor and/or mentee, building a network of women, as well as how to use your network to further your career and life aspirations. Nancy tied these concepts together well by sharing some of her own life experiences regarding mentorship, illustrating how mentoring has allowed her to grow professionally and seek greater levels of success both professionally and personally.

To Colleen Sanchez, Executive Assistant to the Chief Information Officer, Nancy’s message on mentorship definitely hit a chord and reinforced the importance of the mentor/mentee relationship she’s had for several years. In fact, her relationship with mentor, Debbie Salas, continues to thrive spanning several years and several companies. “Through Debbie’s mentorship, I have learned a great deal about leadership, setting the bar high, and the action required to achieve success. I know that no matter how much time has passed, I am able to solicit Debbie’s advice day or night. I can call on her for anything and know that she will always be there with new ideas and an innovative point of view that opens my eyes to different ways of thinking and new possibilities.”

After Nancy’s presentation, several attendees shared their own mentoring experiences describing how mentorship impacts their daily life. Each speaker’s remarks reaffirmed Nancy’s message and further illuminated the gratitude felt by both the mentor and the mentee. Mentees expressed appreciation for the guidance provided by their mentor(s), while mentors reflected the same sentiment with their own appreciation for the new ways of thinking their mentee(s) bring with each meeting. “Sometimes the hardest part is the courage to ask someone to be your mentor”, shared Julia Zhou. As mentor herself, Julia, confirmed that although somewhat difficult to begin, the mentor/mentee relationships provides both parties with the confidence that comes with knowing that someone is always in your corner and you have support. Trinh Montrenes, HSS Principle Architect, said it best, “I like the stories shared from other women in IT detailing how they overcame their struggles and the valuable insights I learned from their experiences.”

In partnership with Molina’s Human Resources department and with the knowledge that 89% of all attendees are highly interested in participating in a mentoring program, Molina’s Information Technology department will pilot a 2017 mentorship program for women who currently participate in Molina’s Enterprise Women in Business program. With the help of David Ebmeier, HR Program Manager, and others in HR, this new mentorship program will be an exciting opportunity for women who previously may not have known how to get involved in mentoring. Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” And this mentorship program is just another way Molina is giving back to their employees.

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