Zuzana Dobrovolna had already completed the Leadership program, but after starting a new role and chapter in her career, she felt in need of some guidance again. She joined the Mentoring program and got matched with mentor Petra Imrichova. In this interview, they discuss how mentoring has been a game changer and how important it is to be open and honest.
What inspired you to join the Mentoring program?
Zuzana [mentee]: I started a new role in May this year and I was thinking about how I'm going to achieve the things I want to achieve. And because I already finished the Leadership program last year, I knew that I could get a professional help within Femme Palette. I managed to get this program as a bonus from my new employer. It was a great thing to do because from the beginning, I got great support, and it was amazing how fast I could get on track with my new role.
Petra [mentor]: For me, the game changer was visiting the U.S.. I was awarded by my company as being in the top two percent of all the employees around the world, and I met all those successful people. And I thought, OK, that’s where I would like to be too, so I decided to look for a mentor. I worked with my first one, then with my second one, and realized I would like to also return something to the community, not just receive.
Was there something that surprised you during the program?
Zuzana [mentee]: For me, it was definitely how honest I could be with Petra since the beginning and the level of honesty and the open answers I was given. The new role wasn’t easy and it was great for me to just be open.
Petra [mentor]: I was really surprised that I was looking at Zuzana and seeing myself 10 or 15 years ago. The same courage, the same drive. I don’t know how you're doing this matching, but it’s amazing.
Zuzana, in which areas have you progressed most thanks to Petra’s mentoring?
Zuzana [mentee]: We focused on company culture, as well as on team structure. I was dealing with the challenges of having part timers in my team, having people that are fully remote, that have families. We worked hard on transforming this to a professional team and still staying empathetic. To be a people person and still be analytical. I think we managed that quite well.
Petra, was there something that you learned from your mentee?
Petra [mentor]: Definitely. We exchanged tons of tips on motivational books. Another thing was the honesty and the open communication. I realized that just because you’re talking to a stranger in the beginning, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be open. I’m learning how important it is to have honesty and trust. Up to this point, it was challenging for me to sit in front of someone who achieved things I would like to achieve one day and be open about my fears and challenges. But if you work on being open, amazing things can come from it.
Zuzana [mentee]: I relate to that, actually. Opening up to someone who you really admire can be kind of challenging. But the more rewarding it is when you actually manage to open up because they have so much to give you.
Opening up to someone who you really admire can be kind of challenging. But the more rewarding it is when you actually manage to open up because they have so much to give you.
What was the biggest contribution of mentoring to your careers?
Petra [mentor]: As someone who has also been a mentee, I would really recommend it to anyone who would like to progress, because without those conversations, I wouldn't be where I am right now. It was a game changer in my career.
Zuzana [mentee]: I think if I wouldn't have done this mentorship program, I might have failed in my position. It's just such a huge support from a person who has been in my position before, who's got much more experience with leading people, with difficult situations, with crises, with structuring things. I think it helped me be confident in my role. It even helped me get a pay rise.
What was your favorite mentoring moment?
Zuzana [mentee]: For me, it will be meeting Petra in person. I look forward to this a lot.
Petra [mentor]: For me, probably the moment was when I realized that Zuzana is basically me 10 years ago. That was a very nice moment. I was also surprised how you managed to match us.
What would you recommend to other mentors and mentees?
Petra [mentor]: If you haven’t done this before, just go for it. It’s a contribution to your future success. From my experience, people who are mentors and mentees have a completely different energy from the rest. And you might meet new friends or people who will be essential in the future.
Zuzana [mentee]: Definitely do it. And I would add that you should just be open from the beginning. Be honest with yourself, talk about your needs, even if you’re not satisfied. If it’s the right match for you, it can bring you further very fast.
From my experience, people who are mentors and mentees have a completely different energy from the rest. And you might meet new friends or people who will be essential in the future.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Petra [mentor]: Just that I'm grateful for the experience, and I really thank Zuzana for her contribution. I look forward to meeting her in person.
Zuzana [mentee]: Thank you for the great work that Femme Palette is doing. I met so many people through your programs, workshops and meetups. It's really rewarding to see my network after joining the community a year and a half ago. I love how it’s a safe space for women and I love the spirit of it all.
Book tips from Petra and Zuzana
Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career (Sylvia Ann Hewlett)
Petra: „This book really changed my perspective on mentoring. It has great tips for mentors if they want to grow even further.“
Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't (Verne Harnish)
Zuzana: „I’m reading this because our company is scaling up so fast. We need to think of how we’re going to manage the teams, how are we going to adapt. I think this can help everyone with a startup that is growing fast.“
Mentoring can benefit anyone at any stage of their career - Zuzana is a great example of that. As we have learned from this interview, the key to making the most of your mentoring sessions is being open and honest. Openly sharing your challenges with someone more experienced and receiving their support is a game changer! Ready to get your own mentor? Now is the time to sign up to the Femme Palette Mentoring program and start transforming your career!