This month, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) recognized four Caterpillar employees for their professional accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of women in STEM fields through outreach and mentoring. Collectively, they’ve experienced both formal and informal mentoring, as both the mentor and the mentee. We asked them their advice and perspective on this crucial topic.
What does mentoring mean to you?
“Mentoring is opening yourself about challenges that you are facing or wins you have had and receiving honest feedback about that. You can have several mentors. Mentors can add perspectives from different directions, that you may need to navigate your career at different stages.” – Sowmya Nagesh, senior engineer and recipient of the 2019 SWE Distinguished New Engineer Award
“Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship where you can help each other grow and learn about areas of strength and weakness. It should not be a one-way street. The mentor and the mentee each have to offer something and receive something in return.” – Britta Jost, New Product Introduction team leader and recipient of the Emerging Leader Award
What topics are covered?
“I typically share information about my own career path, the career path of others and provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and act as a role model. I am open to whatever topic the mentee is interested in, but common themes are careers, setting goals, developing connections, learning about other parts of the business, personal career interests and job performance, which is extremely important.” – Leslie Oliver, director of Global Supply Chain at Solar Turbines, and recipient of the Spark Award
Why does it work?
“Mentoring relationships work better when the mentor sets aside their own career experience and biases and are open to the differences of the mentee’s goals, both personal and professional. Mentors should take into account the external factors that impact a mentee’s daily life. This is especially important when a man is mentoring a woman. Their life experiences are different, and the mentor needs to be open to the different challenges that women face over their career.” – Carol Weber, senior system integration engineer – technology, and recipient of the Fellow Grade recognition
How does mentoring benefit the mentee?
“In large organizations like Caterpillar, sometimes you lose sight of the big picture in the early stages. Mentors can help get some timely reality checks in the early stages of your career. Some mentors can also end up being great influences or sponsors or references, which can help in your career.” – Sowmya
“I try to be a mirror, so that the mentee has a view of themselves, as seen by others, and the organization. This is important to learn early in one’s career. I want them to understand the personal brand they portray so they learn to see themselves through the eyes of the many and not just themselves. Often the discussions I have with mentees are around unwritten rules and expectations and what it ‘really’ takes to advance.” – Leslie
Can you share an experience of formal or informal mentoring you’ve participated in while working at Caterpillar?
“One of the most important mentoring experiences I had was when I was a new supervisor. Whether by design or just luck, my department manager and mentor added a more seasoned manager to our new division and her desk was close to mine. I was able to turn to her for advice and counsel. She provided constructive feedback on how to address situations and helped me grow professionally. She retired a short time later, and I am still in contact with her today as I continue to reach out to her and seek her advice and support.” – Carol
At Caterpillar, we respect the unique talents, experiences and viewpoints of all of our employees.
We support women in STEM fields and encourages career growth through continuous improvement, mentor programs, and employee resource groups. We work to bring different perspectives into everything we do, in order to help our diverse customers across the globe.
Interested in a career at Caterpillar? Search and apply for jobs today!