Tips for mentoring from Women in MedTech in Boston

Shortly after a full immersion at HIMSS 2019, I found myself lucky enough to be attending the Women in MedTech networking event in Boston this week. Design Concepts was one of the hosts of the event, which attracted over 170 women leaders.

It was so exciting to be in a room of women leaders who were so willing to talk and share ideas about the business of MedTech and their careers. Sarah Faulkner, editor of and Drug Delivery Business News, interviewed Mary Anne Heino (President, CEO and Board Director of Lantheus) about her 30-year career in the life sciences. Their conversation traced her career and she shared her perspective and advice. I was particularly interested in hearing her talk about mentorship.

This talk reminded me of another one I attended at HIMSS titled “Women in Health Tech” where Indu Subaiya, MBA, MD, Executive Vice President, Health 2. 0, and Aashima Gupta, Director of Global Healthcare Solutions, Google Cloud, talked about being women in tech. The topic of mentorship was a topic here, as well.

All these women had some interesting thoughts to share, tips on being a mentor and a mentee, and generally just some good advice.

  1. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Indeed! While it may take some bravery, you won’t know if you don’t ask. So stand up and ask. Whether you are asking for a mentor or anything else, for that matter, it’s important to let people know what you want. These highly successful women said it worked for them. I can attest from my own experience that this attitude of “just ask” and occasionally “just ask for forgiveness” has helped me. My attitude is to always assume the positive – that they will say yes. It has occurred to me that sometime the “yes” is the scariest part.
  2. Challenge yourself, regularly. Look for things, inside and outside of work that will challenge you. In the same vein as just ask, this does require having some sense of self-awareness. Cultivate this.
  3. Be ready to be challenged by your mentor. Your mentor is right for you if they challenge you, not console you. Ah, this is a good one. I am always tempted to commiserate. But no, to be a good mentor you need to care personally and challenge directly. (Thanks Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor)
  4. Be clear. If you ask someone to be your mentor, it is helpful to tell them what your goals are and how you’d like to work. People are much more willing to help than you believe, but their time is precious, so have a goal, make sure you can articulate why, and what you are trying to accomplish. Discuss if this relationship will be formal or informal, how often you will meet, etc.
  5. Change your point of view. Age and title are irrelevant. We all need to build a set of traits that we can apply anywhere or to any job. There is no age or stage when you don’t need a mentor. Mentors don’t need to be older or younger that you.

It was great hearing from these successful women, not only about their experiences, but to get some tools and advice to help us all build a stronger community together.

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