The Women’s TechConnect Initiative (TechConnect) is a joint effort involving Women in Technology honorees, The WICT Network and The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) that provides a mentoring relationship between senior and rising cable media technology professionals. The goal of the initiative is to educate, develop and retain women in tech roles.
Mentees apply for the program and those selected are matched with a mentor, drawn from the pool of Women in Technology award winners, who most closely meets their objectives. The WICT Network and SCTE support the mentors and mentees by offering online resources and tools, as well as underwriting event registrations and memberships. By meeting in groups as well as in their own mentoring pairs, participants develop a sense of community, helping the industry build a more robust pipeline of tomorrow’s tech leaders.
If you are a rising professional in a tech field and would like to participate in Women’s TechConnect, applications for the next round of mentoring will be available in summer 2022. Visit our website for more information about the application requirements and program details.
In this article, four mentees and one mentor share their insights about the program, skills they’ve learned and the ongoing impact of their participation in the program.
A Mentor’s Perspective
Mentors are a critical part of this program and serve their mentees not just during the one-year term, but many continue guiding their mentees after the program concludes.
“I’ve been a mentor with TechConnect for years, starting from its very early stages when it was just an idea. Through the program, mentees grow in how they see their jobs and the industry. They embark on big career changes, advancing from one stage to the next and sometimes moving from one functional area to another,” says Charlotte Field, Application Platform Operations for Charter Communications.
“I’m passionate about helping rising women leaders understand what is most important for advancement – seeing things from others’ perspectives, asking for and applying constructive feedback, networking in a meaningful way and strengthening your individual brand recognition. These are all things that helped me on my path. As a leader, I’m glad to have this opportunity to not only share my learnings but also to build productive relationships with many of my mentees,” Field continues.
A Mix of Emotions
An overarching objective of the initiative is to provide a vital support system to equip mentees to overcome workplace challenges, while helping them rise through the ranks until they become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators. Mentees expressed a mixture of excitement and nervousness about participation, as many of them view the mentors as industry icons.
“I was really nervous and scared because I didn’t know what to expect. Even in the initial kickoff call I was quiet; it was just all of these wonderful ladies talking and they all seemed to know each other,” recalls Patricia Wilmot, Senior Director, IT Telecom for Comcast.
“Initially I was excited about participating in the program because I’m not in a technical role, I’m in procurement, so without having a technical background it was nice to be paired up with someone from a mentorship perspective that can give me some of their technical and engineering background and thought process,” explains Carol Ann Sweeney, Senior Manager, Business Operations for CommScope.
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
All four mentees agree that they saw benefits to stepping outside of their comfort zones following their time in TechConnect.
Reaching out for clarity can be intimidating, but it’s important to note that there are gains when you pose a question.
“I thought I did well with asking questions, but during the program I learned that I should continue to ask questions because people like to talk about the things that they’re passionate about,” explains Sweeney. “They don’t mind sitting down and having those conversations and we should ask questions not only to understand, but also to show how valuable you are to them.”
“I just accepted a new role within my company, and a part of that was due to my mentor,” says Tanya Eichin, Senior Manager, Xfinity Mobile CX – Strategy and Ops for Comcast. “I was at a point where I needed a change, and my mentor gave a lot of information from her past experiences which helped me and the way I view things.”
Gaining a newfound perspective is something Irene Alvarez, Director, ISP for Charter Communications, took away from TechConnect. “I’ve been in the industry for 37 years on the technology side and as you can imagine, it’s a male-dominated area. By having someone to talk to with a different perspective that helped guide and support me through the program was the most impactful for me.”
“During the program, there are opportunities to do things like getting involved with the book club and utilizing LinkedIn. Even though I wasn’t always able to participate, when I was able to join in, I was met with a very welcoming environment. The program made me feel welcomed and that my voice was being heard,” Eichin says.
“I learned it’s not too late to change and started to think about my career and where I wanted to go while participating in TechConnect,” Wilmot says. She adds, “Put yourself out there and you’ll be surprised about what you will get from participating and listening to all of the speakers. It’s a lot of work and the way I look at, I’ve been provided with this opportunity and my company is investing in me.”