Building Strong Relationships to Advance Careers

The Mentor Program is part of the AMADC’s mission to provide career resources and programs to marketing professionals throughout the region. The program is also intended to act as a a gateway to connecting marketers across industries, which is also an integral part of AMADC’s mission of “Marketers Helping Marketers.”

The AMADC has had a long commitment to mentoring with 10 years of running mentor programming. In 2007 the program was a 4-week program that met in April at Google DC. Fast forward to today, and the program meets for 9-months from October-June at General Assembly. The program still includes activities and speakers, much like it did in the beginning. AMADC Board Member Karen Maria Alston actually joined the AMADC because she became a mentor with the program and remembers it was her first contact with AMADC. “I loved the program and enjoyed hearing from speakers and the activities with the mentees. It was a great program and solidified my commitment to AMA.”

The AMADC launched its 2016-2017 program in October 2016. It continues to focus on building careers and creating marketing leaders, but through a more flexible program that now runs to June 2017. “Our mentor program has a solid track record of developing careers and professional relationships, but we see this new format as better fitting the needs of participants and brings a level of networking to our program that we previously weren’t offering,” says Regan Lamb, President of AMADC.

Mentor Spotlight - Cathy Johnson

Cathy Johnson

Cathy Johnson is Senior Director, Marketing at Stroz Friedberg, an Aon Company. Cathy actually started her career in broadcasting as an on-air personality and production director in Florida. Part of her role required her to write and produce commercials for concerts at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, which got her interested in the concerts that she was promoting and why some were more successful than others (hint: wasn’t always the concert). Cathy pivoted to marketing in 2001, and started to work in business-to-business professional services marketing, specifically in the field of risk management. Originally meant to be a temp role, Cathy found the business fascinating and the people nice, so she ended up staying. Wanting to get more involved in the customer experience side of brands, Cathy has spent the last 15+ years focused on managing events, content and digital marketing. Last month Cathy earned a Certificate in Digital Marketing from Georgetown University’s Center for Continuing & Professional Education (CCPE) and, as of January 1st, also heads up her firm’s digital marketing initiatives.

The AMADC Mentor Program is Cathy’s first time mentoring. She was motivated to join the program because in most of her roles, she has been a manager with direct reports: “My favorite aspect of working in marketing has been guiding and teaching my team members to help them not only in their current roles but also to prepare for future roles.” Cathy has had the opportunity to really get to know her protégé and exchange ideas with her, and finds meeting the other mentors in the program extremely valuable from a networking perspective. Overall, Cathy finds the AMADC Mentor Program very gratifying, noting “Any program that can help me venture outside of my own work bubble is beneficial to me.”

When it comes to sharing advice for protégés, or anyone interested in marketing, Cathy recommends that you “Fully understand what your goal is before embarking on a marketing initiative. Often we jump directly to the creative, but going through the process of setting goals and mapping out a campaign helps you think differently and creates more effective campaigns. It also connects you to your work on a deeper level and serves to motivate you to succeed.”

Click here to view previous Mentor Spotlights!


Mentor Program Kick Off

Mentoring: What to Expect

by Linda Keller, Program Advisor

In October 2016, I had the pleasure of leading the training at the kick-off event for the AMADC Mentor Program. The program helps protege participants gain career guidance and insight and mentors to expand their network and to enhance their personal brand. It has attracted a motivated and professionally diverse group of professionals who are eager to help and to learn. Being a mentor or protege has its unique qualities, so it’s important to receive training prior to starting a mentor/protege relationship.  

During the event, the program participants learned how the program works and best practices for getting started. They also gathered in role-based groups to discuss and report on the qualities of an effective mentor partner. Mentors discussed the ideal protégé, and the protégés discussed the ideal mentor.

MENTORS — Their role and what protégés expect:

Mentors assist in career planning, give feedback on performance, boost self-esteem, facilitate networking, and help protégés design realistic goals.

The protégés described an ideal mentor as an experienced professional who:

  • Values regular contact and provides real-world insight 
  • Provides access to resources or further support
  • Listens actively to understand individual challenges 
  • Asks great questions to spur creative thinking/ideas 
  • Respects confidentiality and withholds judgement

PROTEGES — Their role and what mentors expect:

Protégés learn from a mentor's personal and professional experience, knowledge and skills. This one-on-one mentor relationship allows for individual attention to career aspirations, professional development and networking needs. Not only is it helping others, but mentors also help themselves by solidifying their expertise, expanding their network and enjoying the satisfaction of helping others. 

According to our mentors, ideal protégés are entry-level to experienced professionals who are:

  • Proactive and willing to try new approaches
  • Open to feedback
  • Clear about their goals and vision of success 
  • Make and keep commitments 

Expect the Best and Prepare for the Worst

As a final activity we addressed a topic that is the elephant in the room at every mentor kick-off event – potential problems with the partnership. After breaking into groups to brainstorm potential issues that could arise, we discussed which approaches and resources would be most effective for problem resolution. 

I left the event energized and excited for the participants. In my experience, mentor relationships help mentors and protégés expand their horizons both personally and professionally. 

Suggested Activities and Topics for Mentor Meetings

Each mentor-protege partnership is expected to meet once a month or according to an agreed-to plan. Often times these meetings can be around general planning and dealing with the protege’s current issues. However, sometimes thinking beyond someone'st worldview will help move them ahead. Some topics that will help drive this out-of-the box thinking are:

  • Networking Skills – Discuss the importance of and tips for networking.
  • Social Media and Technology – How does your company or industry use different tools?
  • Interview Skills and Strategies – Share tips and conduct a mock interview.
  • Personal Branding Review – Review a protégés resume and online profiles and provide suggestions to make them stronger.
  • Lunch with Professional Colleagues – Invite protégé to lunch with an industry colleague.
  • Informational Interviews or Job Shadowing – Introduce protégé to another colleague or set up a job shadowing date.

Program Leadership

For more information about the program, contact Angela Long, VP Mentor Program, at


The Mentor Program is sponsored by General Assembly, a pioneer in education and career transformation. “General Assembly is thrilled to support AMADC's mentor program and contribute to a growing community of marketing professionals in the DC area,” says Paul Gleger,  Senior Regional Director, East Coast. Since launching the DC campus in 2013, General Assembly has provided practical, skills-based learning opportunities for over 35,000 professionals in the DC area, ranging from events, workshops, part-time courses, and full-time programs. “As the marketers toolkit continues to evolve, we hope to be there as a resource for AMADC members throughout their careers, whether leveling up on the latest skills in Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, User Experience Design, or Web Development.  In line with GA's mission to empower people to pursue the work they love, we're excited to be part of the AMADC mentor program, that's focused on building relationships that foster sharing, learning, and career growth.”

General Assembly

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