You’ve Got a Friend: The Perks of Mentorship
Going through any big transition can be exciting and frightening all at once - the uncertainty alone can stir up a whole symphony of emotions. However, it can feel less intimidating when you go through it with someone else, and when it comes to professional transitions, a mentor can make all the difference.
Bridget Falco loved her team at Evergreen Industrial Batteries, but working at a 14-person company within a male-dominated industry, she wanted a fresh perspective from outside of her circle to help her develop as a leader. When she first inquired about being matched with a mentor through the Small Giants Sounding Board program, she wanted to be matched with a female leader. Instead, she got Lance Shipp. She was skeptical that he was the right fit, but open to giving the relationship a chance.
Change All At Once
Lance and Bridget’s mentor-mentee relationship came at just the right time for Bridget. She was adding operational responsibilities to her sales role and was seeking to better understand overall corporate strategy, improve her financial acumen, and learn how to build and manage high performing multifunctional teams. Nine months later, she also learned her company was going through its own big transition. The owner of the company was thinking about his own transition and ownership role in a thoughtful way. He was able to find a larger company that felt like a good culture fit, and in October 2022, Evergreen Industrial Batteries was sold and became part of Alpine Power Systems.
For Bridget, this meant being involved in a confidential due diligence process, meeting potential new peers and bosses and ensuring her teams continued to perform during this very disruptive event. Once the final agreement was in place, Bridget was responsible for the integration and taking her teams through a crucial change management process and helping them understand how this major transition affected each one of them personally.
Some aspects of the organization remained familiar: the founder remains a consultant for their regional division, and the CEO of Evergreen, who had been hired several years prior, was crucial in helping the transition feel as seamless as possible.
However, more change was in store for Bridget when the former CEO (who became the General Manager in the new company), announced he’d be moving to Europe and stepping away. This meant that Bridget would take over his general manager responsibilities (she chose to keep her title of Director, however). So not only did the past couple of years bring on a change in culture and processes for Bridget, but also a new role with more leadership responsibilities in a much larger and established new organization.
Even though the acquisition has been a positive experience, Bridget admits to struggling at times with the growing pains. She was defensive when questioned about her team’s operations, and she acknowledges that her reaction came from a place of insecurity. But she’s learned how to combat imposter syndrome, to be more confident in herself and her team, and is growing into her position amongst the larger company.
Bridget credits having Lance as a mentor as a big factor in her ability to handle so many transitions all at once. Lance’s strength as a mentor is being able to listen without judgment and separate out the emotions from the challenges, while providing perspective and examples of similar experiences. Depending on what is needed, he lends a sympathetic ear to hear her frustrations, is a teacher equipping her with new tools, resources and methodologies that apply to her particular situation, and encourages her as a coach.
Despite her initial hesitation, Bridget quickly grew to appreciate how well matched the two were. Lance agrees, sharing that Bridget has been a good sounding board to him in return. They both share a passion for continued learning and the two see themselves as friends now and appreciate the support they’re able to provide each other amidst various life and work transitions.
Growth almost always occurs when we are uncomfortable. Change is inevitable, but growth is a choice. And Bridget and Lance plan to support each other through many more growth opportunities.
Find Your Perfect Mentor!
The Sounding Board program has paired many more Small Giants leaders together for fruitful mentor-mentee relationships. Cultivating a relationship with someone who has a values alignment, and yet can offer you a fresh perspective from outside of your organization and personal life, is a significantly beneficial experience. Don't go through big transitions and challenges alone - consider seeking out your own mentor!