TMMBA Mentoring Program Charts a Roadmap for Success

It’s common knowledge that having a mentor is a valuable aspect of career development. From providing encouragement and foresight to acting as a trusted adviser, a person’s mentor can be a definite advantage for both personal and professional growth.

What’s less clearly understood, however, is how one finds a mentor and develops a sustainable and successful relationship. It can be hard work. How do the mentor and mentee know if they are a compatible pairing? How do they nurture the relationship to its full potential?

The Roadmap

The Mentoring Program is an exclusive opportunity to learn from TMMBA alumni. Students should expect to expand their network, provide and receive insight, and be challenged with different perspectives and ideas

In 2015, the TMMBA Program launched a custom Mentoring Program for students (mentees) and alums (mentors) to answer this “how”. Each year, mentees and mentors participate in a thorough matching process through a custom software platform. The platform is known for its success in deploying mentor-mentee solutions for corporate entities and academic institutions and has won numerous awards for product excellence.

Once pairings have been finalized, they follow a structured plan for the duration of the nine-month program. The plan outlines clear expectations and roles, talking points and possible meeting topics, progress checks and more – all important and proven resources to help ensure a successful mentoring partnership.

Over 170 TMMBA student-alum pairings have participated in the program since it started in 2015. And over 85% of the new cohort (Class of 2020) have expressed interest in joining as well. TMMBA has leveraged qualitative and quantitative feedback to optimize the program over the years – both to enhance the mentorship experience and to meet the unique mentorship needs of the TMMBA students and alums in the ever-evolving tech industry in Seattle and beyond.

The Success

Katie Leland (TMMBA 2018) and Ryan Gaukroger (TMMBA 2011)

One example of the invaluable impact of the TMMBA Mentoring Program is found with mentee Katie Leland, Senior Sales Strategy and Planning Business Manager, Microsoft (TMMBA 2018), and mentor Ryan Gaukroger, Director, Azure Strategy, Microsoft (TMMBA 2011). Shortly after the two were paired together in October 2017, they ended up sharing an office at work. This allowed them to have ad hoc conversations about different topics related to their work or leadership.

“Through the TMMBA Mentoring Program, Ryan and I formed a very close friendship, and he is the one person I would go back to for any questions or validation on different topics. I could also witness firsthand how the TMMBA Program has enhanced Ryan’s career. The combination of his hard work and a solid MBA education has opened many doors for him within our organization”

As a seasoned TMMBA mentor who’s participated in the program for multiple years, Ryan notes, “The Mentoring Program is an exclusive opportunity to learn from TMMBA alumni. Students should expect to expand their network, provide and receive insight, and be challenged with different perspectives and ideas.”

I felt like my mentor had been at this crossroads before himself and could help me understand how to make my decision

Current student, VJ Bolton, Automation and Robotics Equipment Engineering Manager, The Boeing Company (TMMBA 2019), and alum, Nate Moch, VP, Product Teams at Zillow (TMMBA 2009), are a new pairing that kicked off the Mentoring Program this past October. Although it’s early on in their partnership, VJ has already seen the benefit.

“The first meeting was a great opportunity to see how another company and industry are setup and to get to know each other a little bit. From that jumping off point, I realized I needed to learn more about the language that Nate used in his industry to help translate my issues to his examples. I felt like my mentor had been at this crossroads before himself and could help me understand how to make my decision.”

Nate Moch (TMMBA 2009) and VJ Bolton (TMMBA 2019)

Similar to Ryan, Nate has been a TMMBA mentor for multiple years and has witnessed firsthand the value of the TMMBA Mentoring Program. “I have enjoyed mentoring in the TMMBA Mentoring Program because the mentees are smart, motivated, and eager to learn. They come with agendas, goals, and a desire to progress their careers. VJ showed up on day one with a list of topics, things he wanted to learn, and his next career goal. It has been great working with him as I am learning a lot about his industry and role, and can share relevant experiences. I want to see him succeed and get the growth and career change he is working towards.”

“I love meeting TMMBA students and working with them on things I had gone through myself years earlier. I feel like I was a beneficiary of great mentors and I wanted to pass on the good fortune.”