Laura Owen
Polycom Employee

Last week Polycom hosted Fountain Blue’s monthly When She Speaks, Women in Leadership panel. This month’s topic was “standing on the shoulders of mentors.”


Participants (pictured below, from left to right):

Panelist Laura Owen, Chief Human Resources Officer, Polycom

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant

Panelist Jocelyn King, Sr Director, Programmable Solutions Group Marketing, Intel Corporation

Panelist Erna Arnesen, former VP, Global Channel and Field Marketing, Plantronics

Panelist Gail Rahn Frederick, Senior Director, Developer Ecosystem and Services, eBay




Here are some of our key takeaways from the discussion.

  • Mentoring opportunities can be both formal and informal, one-time events and long term relationships, and they can occur within organizations or can be found outside your organization. A mentor can be your manager, a peer or someone you look up to. There is no real definition of who a mentor has to be, the important thing is that they have provided you a service, guided you to the answer to a problem and helped you personally and professionally.
  • Mentoring is all about continual learning, we have mentors throughout our lives and careers and both mentor and mentee should be open to learning from one another.
  • Mentor relationships provide value to both mentor and mentee. While the benefits for the mentee are obvious, (i.e. career development, guidance, advocacy, etc.) there are also a great deal of benefits to the mentor. As Gail Rahn Frederick says, the relationship for the mentor is both selfless and selfish. Often while providing guidance to your mentee, you will find solutions to your own challenges, you also have the opportunity to learn as much from your mentee as they learn from you. Jocelyn King said that she usually leaves her mentoring sessions with a new perspective on an obstacle in her own life.
  • Mentoring relationships can be inspiring to both mentor and mentee. The spark we see in our mentees drives us, it inspires us as mentors.
  • When you mentor someone your job is to help them become comfortable with change, because change is a constant in our careers and lives. Stability is important, as a mentor you guide the mentee on how to find stability in time of change.
  • As a mentor you support them on their journey to the solution, you guide them there. But, you never provide them with the answers. The goal of mentoring someone, especially in the early stages of a career, is to help them reach the management level. Managers must be capable of solving problems on their own, and if you give someone all the answers they are less likely to reach that level.
  • Sometimes, the job of the mentor is to simply help the mentee understand what their management needs from them. The needs of our managers aren’t always obvious, it is part of the mentor’s job to help the mentee see and understand the needs of their management.


Thank you to Fountain Blue for bringing the When She Speaks series to Polycom and for allowing me to participate in this rich and inspiring conversation. Thank you to my fellow panelists and to everyone who joined us for this event.

Do you have any questions about finding a mentor, being a mentor, or anything else related to this topic? Let us know in the comments.

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