The 2018 Mentoring Program Kick Off Event for WICT New England was held on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at the Public House in Sturbridge, MA. We

returned to this historical and cozy setting for protégées and mentors to meet, socialize and set goals for the year. We set a new record-high this year with over 40 pairs participating in the Mentor program and almost 70 participants and volunteers attended the kick-off event before the latest Nor’easter hit New England. The weather was on our side!

Our new WICT New England President, Donna Capone, kicked off the event with opening remarks, recognition of our generous sponsors and highlighted our theme for 2018, “The Year of You”. Co-Mentor Program Directors, Jani Burke and Kara Hughs outlined the 2018 program, teased an icebreaker, and shared a short video from Carla Harris about the importance of and difference between mentorship and sponsorship.

After a delicious seasonal buffet lunch, Jani reinforced the importance of networking to grow your brand. This lead to a branding ice-breaker where Jani asked all participants to share what national brand they most identify with their personal brand. Jani kicked off the conversations by identifying with Ford, a brand know for family and farm values. Kara shared that she is like L’Oreal because she’s “worth it’. All participants shared their brand which lead to a lot of laughs and many synergies. Popular brands with the group included Google, Apple and even Ford again. One of the best and bravest responses identified with Always, because of the support for women and the “like a girl” campaign. The group learned a lot about each other!

While enjoying dessert, the group heard from a variety of speakers who have been through the mentor program and openly shared their experience. The duo of Karen Mead and Karen Williams-John kicked off their shared experiences as the winning pair from the 2017 EOE Inaugural “Mentor Pair” award. It was clear that the bond formed as part of their 2017 mentor program will continue for this year and beyond. The 2017 Protégé of the year, Susan Wilson from Comcast, shared her thoughts read by Kara as she was not able to attend in person. Then the 2017 Mentor of the Year, Sara Nizzardo of ESPN, shared her positive experiences and advice for mentors. Before our breakout, Charlene Lancaster of Comcast shared her thoughts on the WICT Touchstones. As the 2017 Touchstone Award winner, Charlene openly shared what WICT and the touchstones have done for her and her career, inspiring us all. 

Additional time was taken at the end of the day for the mentor pairs to sit down and discuss their goals and planning. There was also had a great group of mentors and protégés there without their partner who worked together on expectations and goals for their mentor program experience. Based on feedback, additional time was allocated for the breakout and the participants took advantage of every minute!

Before the event closed, Jani and Kara introduced the concept “Touchstone Tuesday/Thursday” for the 2018 program. Participants will receive relevant information on the first Tuesday or Thursday of the month. This may include videos, articles, book recommendations or other best practices for mentor pairs to share and discuss. The material will tie back to WICT touchstones and mentor program goals.

The event was closed with a video from Carla Harris and her “Pearls of Wisdom” and Donna pulled raffle winners for WICT Mentor prizes, thanking all our participants again. The feedback received was that attendees were inspired by hearing from their peers as speakers and that the time spent in the breakout session helped to energize everyone for the year ahead.