Principal/Founder, Maple Leaf Communications
Now in her second year as a mentor in AMADC’s Mentor Program, corporate marketer and entrepreneur Julia Wilton is an ardent believer in the impact of a mentor, whether the relationship is formal—one that develops from a structured program—or organic, grown out of daily interaction.
What motivated you to participate in AMADC’s Mentor Program? I believe that even the most talented people can benefit from guidance and coaching. In my own career, I benefited from generous mentors and leaders, and believe that it is important to take what I’ve learned from them, couple it with the insights gleaned from my own experience, and give back.
How have mentors shaped your career? Mentors, in my experience, come in many shapes and sizes: sometimes, a mentor can be a friend or a close colleague; other times, a more senior colleague can provide advice and direction. For me, the most valuable career direction came early, from my father. I had a tough boss, and I learned from my Dad how to navigate truly difficult relationships through effective communication. He taught me how to write for business, and how to nurture and manage a team. A few years later, a senior colleague became a mentor to me in a very organic way; he encouraged my development into a marketing executive, and generously helped by providing guidance on how to manage executive leadership expectations. Even though we are no longer in the same company, I still turn to him for advice. And a third, very important person became a mentor at a crucial point in my career. I needed a confidence boost; she believed in me. That support sustained me through a difficult time both personally and professionally. So, having had those experiences I know the potential of strong mentor relationships.
What’s your mentoring style? I listen. I work to understand their angst. I’m also open and direct. But I don’t push anyone beyond his or her limits. I believe that a mentor’s role is to help a protégé figure out, through guiding and showing – maybe, a little pushing – what they do know. I’ve found that people often aren’t aware of what they can achieve unless they’re given the opportunity to try. Now, for a protégé, having a mentor might be a bit nerve-racking or unsettling. A protégé should embrace the process and view it as an opportunity, realizing that his or her mentor may see something in them that he or she isn’t aware of.