What is the one meeting you’ll never want to miss? According to Shelby Cunningham, a Digital Marketing Lead at Sprout Social, it’s her biweekly meeting with Shareil Nariman, a Program Manager of Customer Lifecycle, and her mentor through Sprout’s Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program. The two have been meeting over the past several months to share their experiences, develop new skills and learn about what it means to be a leader from a new perspective.
The Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program empowers aspiring leaders to cultivate their leadership skills through guidance and support from a leader at Sprout. Mentor and mentee pairings are always cross-functional to support companywide networking and are created based on each mentees’ growth areas. One of our goals with this program is to ensure our internal leadership pipeline becomes more diverse, which is why we specifically focus on encouraging BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), women, women in tech, and LGBTQIA+ individuals to apply.
Read on to learn Shareil and Shelby’s takeaways from the program and why mentorship is fundamental to reaching their personal and professional goals.
How has the Emerging Leaders Mentorship program impacted your career?
Shelby: Having Shareil as a mentor has helped me gain confidence and feel more empowered at work. He’s been able to provide an outlet for me to work through things that I didn’t know how to solve while providing a perspective that’s different from my own. I feel like I’m able to work through tasks quicker than I would have if we weren’t meeting, which has greatly benefited my productivity.
Shareil: Mentoring Shelby has really allowed me to hone in on my leadership skills. While I’ve been a manager in the past, I’m not currently managing anyone at Sprout, so this experience fulfills the opportunity to help people develop and grow. It’s been awesome to work with Shelby on that.
What skills have you developed through working together?
Shelby: One of the things that I wanted to get out of having a mentor was feeling more comfortable giving feedback, and working with Shareil has made me feel more confident in doing so. He’s really helped me sharpen those skills by digging into what feedback I want to give, how I can deliver that message articulately and how to make sure that the person I’m giving feedback to is getting something valuable out of it.
Shareil: Definitely my listening skills. It’s a constant practice in any sort of feedback-giving exercise, especially in mentorships where you don’t know the person that well yet. It’s forced me to listen, to speak with intent and to deliver my feedback in a way that assures Shelby it’s coming from a good place. It’s also helped me give critical or developmental feedback, which is much easier once you’ve been able to break down those walls.
What is it like having a mentor from a different department?
Shelby: The fact that Shareil and I are from different departments has been a key part of our mentorship. I think it’s easy to forget how important it is to get a different perspective from those who aren’t as enmeshed in the things you’re doing every day. On the Marketing Team, I have a specific focus and area of expertise, and having someone who isn’t looking at the same things I’m looking at day in and day out has been really valuable.
What is the top lesson you’ve learned from each other?
Shelby: I have learned a lot from Shareil, but the number one thing is being a better advocate for myself by speaking up about the things I care about and what I want my manager to be aware of. Working with him on how to deliver those messages and give that kind of feedback has been invaluable to me.
Shareil: First of all, I’ve learned that Shelby is an amazing person! I didn’t know her before this mentorship program, so getting to know the person she is and what drives/motivates her has been a great experience. Normally I’m able to pick up on cues and body language when navigating these conversations, and Shelby has taught me how to be patient in this process given that we’re in a virtual environment where we meet over Zoom calls. I think mentorship is as good as both sides put into it, and it can be very positive when both people add value.
What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about being a mentor or mentee?
Shelby: I would tell them that this is going to become the one meeting that you are never going to want to cancel. It is going to help you leverage the skills you have and uncover skills you didn’t know you already had.
Shareil: I think what makes mentorship worth it is seeing the results. I got to join a meeting that Shelby was running, and seeing her put the skills we’ve worked on together into action could not be more rewarding. I don’t think you need to wait for your company to put together a formal structure. It can be as simple as identifying someone you want to learn more from and then reaching out to that person to start a conversation.
Join our team
As Shelby and Shareil shared, investing time in mentorship pays off in numerous ways. It can expand your network, improve confidence and help further develop the skills you already have. Mentorship is a commitment to furthering your career by learning about new perspectives and experiences from the leaders you aspire to be.
If you want to join Shelby and Shareil in developing your skills and accelerating your career, take a look at our open positions and apply today!