One’s career is a team achievement

Three weeks ago, I landed at Caterpillar’s Middle East offices in the dazzling emirate of Dubai after accepting the Dubai District Manager position. This position was a dream come true for me. Since joining Caterpillar almost 15 years ago, I’ve been keen on working with customers and Dealers, especially on the product support side, partnering with them for success. Being the first female in this position, I’m honored to be a part of the bold statement that Caterpillar leadership has made to our company, to our Dealers and to the industry in this region. 

But it’s very much a team achievement. Have I put in the hard work and generated results in each of my prior roles? Absolutely. And early on, I began to develop a sense of what I’m passionate about and which areas of the business interested me. But knowing what you want and being willing to work for it are not necessarily sufficient to get you there. Guidance and encouragement are needed to navigate the inevitable complexities and challenges of this journey. I can attest that despite my dedication to my work and established goals, I would not be where I am today without the counsel from others. That is where other Caterpillar leaders have played a pivotal role in my career as mentors.  

Mentorship allows you to benefit from the experience of others. It allows you to express concerns and ask questions without judgment. My Caterpillar mentors have seen potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. They’ve coached me through tricky situations and provided support when I needed it. I’ve always focused on establishing a few deep, quality relationships – seeking mentors with whom there is a good fit. My achievements also are their achievements, and we take mutual pride in them. And as I begin this exciting challenge in the Middle East, my mentors will continue to be a critical part of my success. 

We know that women, and particularly women of color, face different realities in the workplace than their majority counterparts. When that is the case, mentorship becomes even more important in our career advancement. If we are to achieve gender parity, men and women need to come together to both counsel and learn from each other in ways such as reverse mentoring.

Just as I’ve benefited from amazing mentors in my life, I’ve found myself now paying it forward as well. I’ve derived great satisfaction from advising others. It makes all the difference in my workday if I’ve played a small part in helping others achieve their Caterpillar dream. 

Irma Khan
Dubai District Manager
ACAM Division