Millennials Mentor Xerox Executives

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:

Kate Black and Julie Hogan

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 and Cathy Nadeau What is the most important thing you hope your mentor/mentee will learn from you?

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.

 


What is one fun fact about your mentor/mentee? (Nothing too embarrassing!)James Ribikawskis and Mike Feldman

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 and Judy Novak

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.

Courtneay Delavalle-Jones and Bala Sathyanarayanan 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
Mike Feldman
President, North America Operations
James Ribikawskis
Channel Sales
Mike Zimmer
President, U.S. Enterprise & Graphic Communications Unit
Somwatie Singh
Delivery and Professional Services
John Corley
President, Xerox Canada Unit
John Miles
Xerox Canada
Judy Novak
Chief Financial Officer, North America Operations
Samantha Dapier
Service Delivery
Bala V. Sathyanarayanan
Executive Vice President, Business Transformation & Human Resources
Courtneay DellaValle-Jones
Enterprise Sales
Julie Hogan
Senior Vice President, Global Customer Service
Kate Black
Commercial Excellence
Kerry Sanders
Senior Vice President, NAO Commercial Excellence
Luke Schweitzer
Production Color Sales
Kyle Gartner
Vice President, U.S. Graphics Communications
David Garabedian
Enterprise Sales
Cathy Nadeau
Vice President, Strategic Transformation
Chris Dewaele
Commercial Excellence
Toni Clayton Hine
Chief Marketing Officer
Brynn Aylward
Enterprise Sales
Samantha Ma
Xerox Canada
Jennifer On
Channels
Alex Burgess
Senior Vice President, North America Operations Service Delivery
Benjamin Lucko
Channels
Cathy Gueli
Vice President, Offering Strategy
Elise Kanaley
Xerox Information Management

 

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6 Comments

  1. George Yeadon November 1, 2017 - Reply

    What’s the diversity mix in this program, and was that a consideration in the pairings?

    • Bala V Sathyanarayanan November 1, 2017 - Reply

      Hi George, Diversity was a factor in selecting our mentors as you can see from our female to male ratio of 4:3; however the more important criteria was engaging our top performing talent as rated by managers. As the program expands past the pilot stage, we hope to engage even more of our top talent as mentors.

  2. John Peterson December 11, 2017 - Reply

    This is an amazing idea. So much of the older ways of conducting business and business relations are starting to no longer work. I have always been an advocate for the bottom up approach to business. All the best ideas and information, good and bad, come from the front lines. Those facing customers and the customers themselves.

    As much as I hate the term, some upper management suffer from and Ivory Tower effect. They are so far removed they don’t detailed perspective. This will help bring in fresh ideas and techniques. I hope this project soars, it truly is a fantastic idea. Kudos Xerox.

  3. Ashley Threlfall March 19, 2018 - Reply

    This program sounds like a fantastic idea. I can definitely see the benefits Millennials can bring into a business and offering a fresh perspective. This will also help younger employees grow and build relationships with more senior employees. I hope to see it expand within Xerox.

  4. Yani Molina March 19, 2018 - Reply

    Hi Bala! I met you when you visited Guatemala and loved the ideas you proposed to the managers. Do you think this program could be implemented here? I would love to learn more and also give ideas!

  5. Bala V Sathyanarayanan March 20, 2018 - Reply

    Hello Yani, It was great to meet you and other colleagues in Guatemala. I definitely think a Reverse Mentoring program would be a success at Xerox Guatemala as well . Please get in touch with Damilola Ashaolu- she can share some best practices with you and help you get started

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