Female Mentors: Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite
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Female Mentors: Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Female Mentors: Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Life is a team sport. From the classroom to the boardroom—and everywhere in between—people need a little help along the way.

“Many times, your lens is cloudy when looking at a situation,” says Catherine Deano, founder of Painting with a Twist. “A mentor has a broader view of the situation and can help clarify and redirect your thinking on a situation.”

In business, mentors share their knowledge and experience with up-and-coming professionals and help guide the next generation of leaders. According to Forbes, nearly 85% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, which goes up to 100% for Fortune 50 companies.

For this edition of Franchise Update, we asked more than a dozen successful women in franchising to share their experiences with mentorship. By necessity, the relationship is a two-way street because there’s no progress without trust and respect. Both parties need to commit to the process for it to be successful. They should be clear about their goals and open about their ups and downs in the business world.

“I make sure that the people I mentor learn from my successes and shortcomings,” says Kim Falk, vice president of franchise development for Beans & Brews Coffee House. “It better prepares them for their next step and propels their career forward.”

If done right, the roles can blur, says Mary Kennedy Thompson, chief operating officer at Neighborly. “I’m amazed at how many times I’m sitting next to somebody who might be new in the business, and they have a great idea or have done something I’ve never done,” she says.

Above all, the relationship should be honest. That might sound like a no-brainer, but mentors need the courage to speak hard truths when necessary, and mentees need the ability to extract the intended lesson.

“Your mentor should be brave enough to challenge you and give you direct feedback when they do not agree with the path you are going down,” says Mallory Maddox, chief strategy officer for Scooter’s Coffee. “I’ve learned the most from those who have been the toughest on me.”

While the interviews on the following pages focus on women and their experiences with mentoring, it’s important to remember that times are changing. As Kris McDonald, vice president of development for Checker’s Drive-In Restaurants Inc., says, “I think mentoring is important for all leaders—maybe even more so for the men who are having to adapt to an influx of female leadership.”

Published: March 18th, 2024

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