Jul 8, 2022

From mentee to mentor: Zuzana's experience

Zuzana Dobrovolná’s first experience with Femme Palette was as a participant of the Leadership program. Her positive experience with mentoring later led her to join the Coaching and Mentoring program, and in the end, she decided to become a mentor herself. As someone who has seen both sides of the mentoring relationship, Zuzana shares her highlights, takeaways, and more. 

Before you joined us as a mentor, you were a mentee in our Coaching and Mentoring program as well as in our Leadership program. How did your experience differ across these programs?

First, I started in the Leadership program, which I think was a good idea because I got the overall experience - a workshop, talks about leadership in general, etc. In my position as a young leader in a fast-growing company, it was a perfect fit for me. Two or three years after that, I started in quite a challenging role in a new company, and I thought it would be great to have somebody by my side in the first months. So I contacted Femme Palette again and joined the Coaching and Mentoring program. This gave me great support in the first months of my new role.

As far as the Leadership program goes, I would recommend it to people who want to broaden their knowledge. It was kind of like going to school again, which I loved. As a small group of 12 ladies, I met some great people in the program. As for the Coaching and Mentoring, it was great to explore my needs and fears, see where I can take myself, and explore the situation to get the maximum out of it.

How has mentoring helped shape your career?

Mentoring helped me most in the position when I needed to talk to somebody 1:1 to calm myself and see through my ideas. As a young leader, I worked with my intuition for the first time, and it was good to have somebody to talk to about using that intuition. I had my hero, Petra Imrichova, by my side for six months, and it was great.

How did the addition of coaching benefit you in the Coaching and Mentoring program? What value did it add to the experience?

My coach was Misa Kozinova. She helped me understand better that having a new job isn't just about pushing myself to the limits and showing what I can do in the new role, but that you also need to manage your life to avoid burning out. This way, you avoid depression and some mistakes such as being unhappy with the changes you’re going through. I loved that she looked at my situation also from the perspective of work-life balance and that we explored where I want to be in five years. That was a good exploration.

Tell us more about your experience in the Leadership program. Was there something about it that stuck in your mind?

I often think back to a workshop we did about listening, and the one about emotional intelligence. I think these two helped me a lot as a leader in quite a short period. They opened my eyes to these two topics. In general, it was also great to meet the ladies in this group once a month for a different topic. We managed to become friends and meet sometimes after work, which helped me find some new friends as I was new in Prague and had never lived there before.

What made you decide to become a mentor?

I think that many people become mentors because they want to give back to the community. I was hesitant in the beginning. I didn’t know if I was going to be good or have enough experience, but it turned out that it’s really a lot about listening. You’re nervous in the beginning, but when you meet your mentee for maybe the fourth or fifth time, it becomes very friendly, and it feels good to open up about difficult topics or fears. With it being one-on-one, it’s always a safe space. I like that mentors at Femme Palette receive training in the beginning about creating a safe space, and you know how to guide your mentee on difficult questions. This helped me to be successful as a mentor as well.

Ultimately, why I decided to do this because I went through the experience as a mentee, and I gained a lot from that. I hoped to pass on this experience to my mentees as well.

What excites you the most about being a mentor?

I love that I was trained by Femme Palette to be a good mentor in the beginning, so that I could create this safe space. My mentee is quite new to her managerial role, and it’s great to hear how well she’s doing in managing her team. We talk about stuff such as being an effective leader, giving feedback, and being supportive, and she takes so many notes which she comes back to, and it seems to be working for her. It’s amazing to see the progress she’s made in five to six months.

Did anything from Zuzana’s experience stick in your mind? If you’d like to work on your leadership skills and explore important topics with other leaders, you can check out our Leadership program here and find out when we’re opening the next cohort. In our Coaching and Mentoring program, you can choose to spend either 3 or 5 hours with a coach to focus on personal development or exploring needs before working with your personal mentor. 

Would you like to use your experience to help someone grow in their career? Find out more about becoming a Femme Palette mentor here.

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