#IAMCPWIT and our ‘Mentoring Circles’ of trust and support at #MSInspire and beyond…

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Gail Mercer- MacKay, IAMCP Women in Technology Mentoring Circles Lead

IAMCP WIT is delighted to be running our first ever WIT Mentoring Circle on Sunday afternoon at Inspire in Washington. Join us in person or online. Experience the impact of a mentoring circle first-hand, meet your peers, and learn how to start a mentoring circle in your own region. Register now.

About 2 years ago I was fortunate to spend some time with Kati Quigley from Microsoft. We were talking about mentors and how mentors were so important to each of us – that they had figured prominently as we’d both navigated our careers.

At the time I expressed concern at the lack of mentors for women in our industry and talked about how to invest in better mentoring programs for IAMCP WIT.

“Have you ever thought about a mentoring circle?” Kati asked me.

“What’s a mentoring circle?”

Kati explained that a mentoring circle was a small group of people who met regularly to ask questions, share concerns and receive advice. It is typically led by one or two senior mentors but encourages peer-to-peer connections and feedback as well. She added that Microsoft had invested in WIT mentoring circles with positive results.

This conversation stuck with me. In the meantime, I was invited to join a business Mastermind Group. Twelve business owners who met regularly to learn, share and receive advice from one another with the express purpose of growing our respective businesses. Hmm… sounds a lot like a mentoring circle. What I learned is that these kinds of intimate gatherings help. They help us build skills, confidence, and our networks. They help us grow our business. They help us further our careers.

With Kati’s words still ringing in my ears and my own experience in the Mastermind, I was delighted when Christine Bongard, IAMCP WIT global chair, asked if someone might take on the task of defining a networking program for women at Inspire. Joined by Shann McGrail, Alexandra Hanke and April Blankenship, we formed a small committee to define the ultimate WIT mentoring circle experience.

Our team wants participation from around the globe – so we structured it so that women can attend in person or online. While in-person attendees need to be Inspire registrants, the online experience is open to anyone.

We also want it to be more than just a single experience at Inspire, so we developed a complete “Do It Yourself” Mentoring Circle Kit for attendees to use after Inspire ends. Our hope is that several IAMCP WIT communities will establish their own mentoring circles.

I know how connecting with other women has helped me flourish and grow. I am delighted to be a small part of the IAMCP WIT first mentoring circle and I especially want to pay credit to the hard work of my committee member colleagues, Alex, Shann and April. We have been a determined team.

And finally, a big shout out to Kati who inspires me each and every time I am fortunate enough to connect with her. The people in our lives help us become better versions of ourselves. I am so blessed to have some great ones in mine.