By Emily Drzewiecki
Senior Xerox executives in North America have adopted a new program in which the likes of Mike Feldman, John Corley and Judy Novak are playing the part of student with up-and-coming younger professionals who have been assigned as their mentors. This role reversal, also known as “reverse mentoring” is one of Corporate America’s hottest trends. The intention behind pairing these unlikely pen pals is to cross pollinate ideas and techniques, share approaches to problem solving, and start embracing new cultural facets at Xerox.
Executive Vice President of Business Transformation & Human Resources Bala Sathyanarayanan founded the program after participating in several traditional mentorship programs. “We need to create a safe space where our young people can share ideas and connect with the leadership. We want to welcome fresh perspectives to how we approach innovation, product development, selling, marketing and . Thus, we created a program that would include our young professionals at the decision making table.”
Our executives spend time with their mentors every month getting to know each other’s personalities, strengths and career goals as well as challenges. Here’s a sneak peek at what some of Xerox’s mentors and mentees are learning about each other:
What intrigued you about the reverse mentoring program?
Kate Black (mentor): The reverse mentoring program presented a unique leadership opportunity to be paired with an experienced senior executive and share perspectives and personal experiences regarding a plethora of topics, including business, industry, career, etc.
Julie Hogan (mentee): The reverse mentoring program is an opportunity for open dialogue and new perspectives from a Gen Y/Millennial regarding business, strategy, and other relevant topics.
Chris Dewaele (mentor): My hope is that Cathy will be able to gain actionable information or to spark new ideas from my perspective as a millennial and as a relatively new member of the Xerox workforce.
Cathy Nadeau (mentee): I would like to help Chris learn how to form productive relationships that are based outside of a direct reporting dynamic in the workplace.
James Ribikawskis (mentor): Mike has a guilty pleasure for Reality TV. Here are the top three, in no particular order: Million Dollar Listing, House Hunter, Real Housewives of NY
Mike Feldman (mentee): James likes to go on long hikes. His last trip was to beautiful Glacier National Park, Montana.
Courtneay DellaValle-Jones (mentor): Bala likes to sing at work. Bala said, “People have caught him in the hallway while singing and he didn’t know they heard him.” Bala enjoys to listen to and sing Bollywood music.
Bala Sathyanarayanan (mentee): Courtneay has 2 dogs, Opie and Meekah She created an Instagram page for Opie, and has agencies contacting her about a video of Opie that went viral.
Kate Black (mentor): Julie is a lifelong musician, playing in several bands, and currently wishes she was in a jazz band.
Julie Hogan (mentee): Kate considers herself a JFK expert and has memorabilia dating back to the 1960s.
If you had to describe your mentee/mentor using three words, what three words would you pick?
Samantha Dapier (mentor): Kind, compelling, open-minded
Judy Novak(mentee): Optimistic, thoughtful, engaged
Pretend: Xerox just invented a new product that would revolutionize the world as we know it, what would it be?
Mike Feldman/James Ribikawskis (joint effort): Electronic paper – Thin, flexible, paper-like material that one could send documents electronically and use just like any standard paper document of today.
Courtneay Delavalle-Jones (mentor): Medical 3-D printing (used in hospitals) and Holographic printing.
Bala Sathyanarayanan (mentee): Cloud based 3-D printing.
Chris Dewaele (mentor): The office assistant of the future – one that utilizes A.I.
Cathy Nadeau (mentee): A tool for automating responses to customer requests or RFPs using machine learning – continuously improving the quality of each response.
The magic of reverse mentoring
Reverse mentoring is not a new idea. Millennials and members of the up and coming Generation Z have become symbols for how expectations are changing for all employee, customer and partner interactions. The unstoppable modern team will adopt agile workflows that make more time for brainstorming and idea sharing, creating a think-tank culture that thrives on inclusivity and challenging the status quo.
At Xerox, we are all about setting the page free and looking beyond traditional systems of work. The reverse mentoring program has provided both executives and young professionals an opportunity to set the pages of their career free and do the extraordinary.
|The Mentees||The Mentors|
President, North America Operations
President, U.S. Enterprise & Graphic Communications Unit
Delivery and Professional Services
President, Xerox Canada Unit
Chief Financial Officer, North America Operations
|Bala V. Sathyanarayanan
Executive Vice President, Business Transformation & Human Resources
Senior Vice President, Global Customer Service
Senior Vice President, NAO Commercial Excellence
Production Color Sales
Vice President, U.S. Graphics Communications
Vice President, Strategic Transformation
|Toni Clayton Hine
Chief Marketing Officer
Senior Vice President, North America Operations Service Delivery
Vice President, Offering Strategy
Xerox Information Management
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