FEMALE MENTORS MATTER
One of the first pieces of advice I received from my university career advisor was to actively seek out mentors and build a toolkit of support to help propel me through college, into the workforce and beyond. No matter what stage of life I’ve been in, I’ve actively sought out mentors inside and outside of my sector of international higher education.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a list of mentors in the double-digits. Five outstanding females stand out, however, and here’s what they’ve taught me:
1. Work in your business to understand how to work on your business
Mrs. Dale Rogers Marshall, Wheaton College’s sixth president (and president during my years at Wheaton). As a double-major in political science and international relations, I stumbled across a class in urban politics taught by President Marshall herself. She taught me many, many things about politics and life, but as a mentor, she showed me the value of working in your business and not just on your business, as evidenced by her taking time out of the rigor of the college presidency role to teach freshmen about her academic passions.
2. Always give back
Meg Rigs, Foreign Service Officer, Ethiopia, and my first real boss. I was lucky enough to be selected as an intern at the U.S. Department of State during my college years and worked under Meg’s leadership. Meg was my mentor during the formative years as I discovered my passion in life. I thought it was going to be following a career in the Foreign Service, but I got a taste of diplomatic life working on issues of education and women and children support, which contributed to my career path in international education, rather than a governmental career. As a mentor, Meg taught me to give back. She set up an internship for a student from her alma mater, and despite her busy days in Foggy Bottom, D.C., she made sure she taught me about the structure of government, her hometown and her path to success.
3. No spreadsheet is more important than time with your child
Power boss and English language maverick, Marsha Harrington, President of Kaplan International Tools for English. Marsha led the growth of Kaplan International to 26 U.S. and Canadian schools and three pathway partnerships with two kids under 8. She never misses a beat, she excels at what she does and she is always available for her family and encourages the same of her team. Having her as a boss during my early months of motherhood was critical.
4. Stop caring about how many letters there are after your name, just get in there and add value to every meeting you are in
Mary Churchill, Founding Editor of Inside Higher Education’s University of Venus and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Wheelock College. Mary and I had a rare opportunity to collaborate on a private/public partnership facilitating international student entry and success at a college in Boston. During this time, I often found myself in meetings with administrators far ahead of my paygrade, with far more experience, tenure and letters following their name. Mary took me by the hand, marched me into the room and encouraged my participation. She reminded me of my years of work experience in this sector and the value that brought.
5. Invest time in your personal brand — no one else is going to do it!
Mary Kaye Pepperman, Shorelight’s Vice President for Talent Acquisition, our third employee and an incredible career recruiter of outstanding talent taught me that your digital profile says a lot about you. This is one piece of your career you truly control: how your LinkedIn profile looks, who has recommended you (don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation!), how to use sites like Landit, and how you choose to engage in initiatives like Lead5050. Also, share things that matter to you. These are all a part of your work storyboard, and don’t be afraid to curate this and share it.
I am grateful for my mentors — particularly the female ones. I’ve learned from them; I’ve taken their tricks and tips and stored them in my toolkit for when I needed them even if we weren’t at the same stage of life. Mentors matter. Find one. Be one.
Pamela is Senior Vice President of Partner Operations at Shorelight Education, and also serves as a leader in the organization’s women’s group. Pamela manages new partner school implementation, academic affairs, student career planning, and multisite operations of Shorelight’s campus teams.
She has extensive experience in international education and managing team members, and is well versed in leading operations for higher education programs and English language schools. Pamela received a bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science from Wheaton College, where she continues to volunteer. She and her family are based in a suburb of Boston.