BCAMA’s new mentorship program, Level Up, has literally been changing lives. The program was conceived as a way to develop more of the best kinds of leaders, leaders who care about people. The program hand picks some of the best marketing leaders in the business and matches them with up-and-coming middle manager marketers who want a hand up to break into the next level of their career. Now that our first cohort is coming to a close, we sat down with one mentor-mentee pair to ask them about their experience.
After the speed dating meet and greet at the beginning of the program, Level Up paired Leslie Matheson, Director, Operations & Marketing, Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery, with Sarah Pilkington, Marketing & Communications Manager, Americas at Kongsberg Maritime. Though they come from very different industries, Leslie and Sarah instantly clicked. According to Sarah, “from minute one, we got on like gangbusters. We started off with the topics assigned from the program, but our relationship evolved from that.”
On Deciding to Join Level Up
When asked why they decided to join the program, Leslie laughs, “Trina [Level Up Program Co-Creator] asked me. At first, I was very flattered, and then I questioned whether I could be of help. Once I saw the structure of the program and that Royal Roads and BCAMA were supporting it, I said yes.”
For Sarah, the journey to the mentor program was a little more complex. When she had her daughter in 2015, she eased into a relaxed position in marketing that allowed her to work three days a week. Then when her daughter started going to school she started to think about her next steps. As part of a company reorganization, she was able to pitch a new position for herself to the company’s SVP Global Operations, Americas, and she became Marketing Manager for the Americas. Shortly after her promotion, she attended the Offshore Women’s Conference. While attending the conference, she noticed one thing, all of the keynote speakers mentioned the importance of mentorship. Four weeks later, the BCAMA mentorship program was announced, and the rest is history.
The Value of the Level Up Experience
For Sarah, Leslie’s real-life experience was key. “The real-life experiences that she has had are the most helpful, both the positives and negatives. She’s talked to me about how she’s approached different issues, and how in some cases maybe it wasn’t the best way. Everytime I spoke with her about something, she had already been through it.”
Confidentiality was also really important for being able to have a candid relationship. “Having a mentor external from my company allows me to be completely honest and point blank. I don’t have to worry that she’s going to talk to someone in my company. I can get that confidentiality.”
Leslie had her own set of benefits she received from the program. “The experience has been wonderful. I’m on the mentor side, and it’s been really lovely for me to talk to someone who needs guidance from someone outside of her own company to have eyes on the situation. It has reminded me of some of the success and challenges I’ve had in my own career. And it’s motivated me to accomplish more things in my career as well.”
Signing up for the Level Up Program
Sarah has found the mentorship to be invaluable to her career and life. “People need to know that this kind of relationship is possible. If you’re hemming and hawing and you’re like, “Where do I see myself?” Just apply. Being able to talk to someone comfortably who has done what you’re doing before is great. I do feel very lucky and very supported. Now that I was made that lead (in my new role), all of these other doors are opening to me. It’s been a very important year for me, and I’m very glad that I have Leslie as a touchstone outside of all this, but who still understands what I’m going through.”
From Leslie’s end, it’s a no brainer. “Just do it. The time commitment is nothing, really. We meet for an hour once every two weeks (the minimum is one hour a month) and I send her emails, and she sends me emails to keep up to date and make sure it’s a productive hour. It’s so exciting to celebrate someone else’s success and be a part of that. She was going for a new job title, and I was right in there with her. It’s added so much to my day-to-day, and it really brought me back a little bit… it’s re-energized me, and brought new things to my job. If you are lucky enough to be invited it’s an opportunity that you can’t miss.”
Written by Altaira Northe