The Women in Big Data Board of Directors approved funding for the Global Mentoring Initiative at the quarterly meeting this past October. What follows is an interview between Tina Tang (Co-founder and chair for Women in Big Data) and Deborah Sgro (WiBD Global Mentoring Director).
TT: Deborah, what does it mean that the board of directors (BOD) approved funding for the mentoring initiative? What will it mean for the chapters?
DS: The approval for funding means the BOD is releasing the money to pay for the development of a worldwide mentoring initiative. With this “go ahead,” the money will fortify chapter-led mentoring programs with technology-based tools and other shared resources making it easier for chapters to run mentoring programs.
TT: Why is WIBD investing in mentoring? What is our mentoring goal?
DS: Mentoring is one of the many vehicles WiBD is using to achieve its goal “to cultivate tangible opportunities, unlock latent potential, act as a catalyst for advancement, and empower equity allies of any gender.” As for our 2022 mentoring goal, we will provide a commonly shared platform to serve 750-1000 worldwide participants (mentors and mentees).
TT: Can you describe this technology-based tool? What does it do and why do I as a regional or chapter lead need it? Do I have to get training?
DS: This is a commercially available SaaS-based mentoring program management platform designed to meet the needs of non-profit organizations.
The WiBD Mentoring Platform will be managed by WiBD’s global Mentoring Workgroup, serving and supporting mentoring programs led by chapters. Mentoring Program Owners, who design and offer a mentoring program on behalf of a chapter or region, will use the mentoring platform for registration, matching, reporting, tracking, and other administrative features. The availability of these shared resources and features eliminates the need for every mentoring program to “reinvent the wheel” and frees up the Mentoring Program Owner’s time to focus on skill development activities.
Here are examples of the services and features the WiBD Mentoring Platform will offer:
Participants interested as either mentors or mentees will have access to all mentoring programs through a single registration, based on available seats.
Mentoring programs will be virtual and seamlessly available across chapters and regions, offering broader networking and development opportunities.
Suggestions for mentor/mentee matching will be offered based on the preferences and interests entered by the applicants. The final matching decision can be determined by the mentor, mentee, or the Mentoring Program Owner as determined by the design of each specific mentoring program.
Resources will be available for easy mentee goal setting and milestone tracking; a badge-earning system will highlight accomplishments.
Orientation and training materials will be shared among programs, allowing for quicker program launching and uniform excellence throughout.
A suite of pre-configured reports is available for tracking the results of each and all mentoring programs.
TT: And how about training, what training will be needed?
DS: First, all participants will receive training on how to effectively use the Global Mentoring Platform software. Although this is a user-friendly, self-documented tool, there will be videos and/or other material available to answer “How To” questions.
Second, there will be role orientation for anyone participating in the program such as Mentoring Program Owners, Mentors and Mentees. Material will be provided guiding each participant in the steps and best practices of their particular role. Each Mentoring Program Owner will also have a “go-to” person, a Mentoring Admin from the Mentoring Workgroup, to help with any questions or concerns.
Now, just a word about a term I used, Mentoring Program Owner. A Mentoring Program Owner is a person from a chapter that designs a mentoring program and is responsible for creating and executing that program on the Global Mentoring Platform. Anyone interested in offering a mentoring program should contact their chapter/regional lead to discuss their idea. If the chapter confirms the offering is in alignment with the goals of the chapter, the Mentoring Program Owner would then coordinate implementation of their mentoring program on the Global Mentoring Platform with Global Mentoring Workgroup.
TT: Is there any cost to the chapter or region launching a program, or is there any cost to mentees looking to participate in a program?
DS: All costs of the globally provided tools are covered by the WiBD BOD. The Initiative is open to use free of charge by any chapter, region or member.
TT: What is the status of the rollout for the Global Mentoring Initiatives?
DS: The Mentoring Workgroup vetted and tested five mentoring platforms. Currently, we are checking references on the product that scored the highest in our evaluations. The final selection will be made in the coming weeks. The Mentoring Workgroup is also meeting with local chapters to plan what mentoring programs will be offered next year. By 1st quarter of 2022, the local chapters and the Global Mentoring Workgroup will publish a jointly created catalog of the mentoring program offerings, and work together to configure the Mentoring Platform to launch the first mentoring programs.
TT: And who should a region or chapter lead contact if they are interested in offering a mentoring program?
DS: That would be me. I can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org) and will happily work with any chapter or region looking to launch a mentoring program in 2022.