Mentoring in a corporate setting frequently means a senior leader taking a junior employee under her wing and offering up career guidance over a period of months, or even years. But as U.S. Bancorp’s Reba Dominski recently learned, mentoring relationships don’t have to be all that formal to be successful.
Shortly after giving a presentation on diversity and inclusion, Dominski, the Minneapolis company’s chief social responsibility officer, was approached by a young, African-American colleague who was feeling stuck in her career and wanted some advice.
They talked for about 30 minutes, after which Dominski quickly devised a plan of action to prepare the young woman to interview for a more challenging role.
Dominski first called the hiring managers to share the young woman’s credentials and tell them why she was a good candidate for the opening. Then she put the colleague through a couple of rounds of mock interviews to help her refine her presentation.
Two weeks later, the young woman called Dominski to tell her that she got the job.
“She was not feeling challenged and satisfied in her current role and, after speaking with her, it was clear her experience was not being used to its full potential,” Dominski said. “We weren’t in an official mentoring relationship, but she needed me and my help.”
Dominski said that this type of informal mentoring goes on all the time at U.S. Bancorp. Two of the company’s most senior female leaders, Kate Quinn, the chief administrative officer, and Gunjan Kedia, the head of wealth management and investment services, often go out of their way to check in on Dominski and make sure she feels supported.
“When there is a culture of support for women, mentoring can be a marathon relationship, but there can also be tremendous value in the quick sprints,” Dominski said.
Mary Martuscelli, the western U.S. president of U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management, is working to create environments outside of the company itself where more informal mentoring experiences can take place.
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Martuscelli initiated the creation of a group of women in the Phoenix area, all financial-services professionals, to provide advice to younger workers in their field and to women who are interested in exploring a mid-career job change.
The group’s meetings proved successful, so Martuscelli is now looking to extend its reach through partnerships with universities to re-create those mentoring circles.
The goal, she said, is to reach women “at an earlier phase of professional exploration.”
Assets: $473.1 billion
Female representation among corporate officers: 49%
Female representation on operating committee: 36%
The team: Ismat Aziz, Betsy Cadwaller, Kristy Carstensen, Reba Dominski, Leslie Godridge, Kandace Heck, Lynn Heitman, Kercedric Holley-Bell, Gunjan Kedia, Felicia LaForgia, Katie Lawler, Janet Lerch, Mary Martuscelli, Beth McDonnell, Kate Quinn, Jodi Richard, Jen Thompson, Judie Verb