Originally published 2/5/2021.
New York Life’s commitment to creating the best products and services for policy owners means sourcing innovations and technology from many different places.
For over 175 years, New York Life has built a unique culture that values connections across the company. That focus often leads to employees forging mentor/mentee relationships to network, discuss challenges, and further their career development.
Recently, our Talent Management professionals in Learning & Development (L&D) and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) set out to expand the company’s mentorship programs, with a particular focus on improving how mentoring pairs are matched. Seeking an innovative approach, New York Life Ventures and Talent Management started working together. The New York Life Ventures team, always looking for ways to bring innovation to the company, had already done some research in this space and met with several startups focused on using technology to formalize, digitize, and scale the mentorship experience. They were most impressed by a cloud-based mentorship management platform called Together, and they shared information on it with their colleagues in Talent Management.
“We were excited about Together’s ability to facilitate all aspects of a mentorship program including registration, pairing, session agendas, and content.” - Megan Protas, New York Life Ventures
“We were excited about Together’s ability to facilitate all aspects of a mentorship program including registration, pairing, session agendas, and content.” says New York Life Ventures’ Megan Protas. “We were also impressed with the transparency of Together’s matching algorithm and liked the founders, who had graduated from Y-Combinator, a well-known tech-startup accelerator.”
Ventures introduced Together to Chief Learning Officer Michael Molinaro and ODI to develop a one-year pilot of about 125 mentor/mentee pairs led by Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Navarro and her team. The pilot was open to members of the Asian Pacific Circle, BOLD Employee Resource Group, and LEAD Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), who were paired with volunteer mentors from across the company’s ERGs.
“One of the reasons we chose Together was because it did a good job of fulfilling various needs in terms of matching,” says Learning and Development’s Ginny Martello. “Their platform gave us the ability to determine what match criteria was most important, such as looking for someone with a similar background or skill set. We were able to work with Together behind the scenes and set these priorities for what participants were looking for in a mentor.”
Connecting in a virtual environment
The mentorship program was initially meant to be in-person with a virtual option, but with the coronavirus pandemic the entire pilot shifted online, something that was easily facilitated by the technology. Through the Together platform, mentors and mentees can schedule 1:1 sessions, view discussion topics and materials, and share information.
“It’s an opportunity for people to continue to develop relationships and remain connected while working remotely,” Martello says. “The technology also pairs nicely with other platforms like the Learning Exchange, which lets us drive professional development alongside relationship building.”
Tunisia Riley, who works in Agency Communications, said she enjoyed being paired with her mentor, who worked in an entirely different part of the company, since she brings a different perspective to discussions. She especially enjoyed sitting in on a meeting about supplier diversity during the shadowing session, gaining exposure to an unfamiliar part of New York Life’s business.
“I want to take advantage of any opportunity to connect with others, especially those in other parts of the company,” Riley says. “I definitely would recommend the program. It’s a great opportunity to network and meet with someone 1:1. The activity sessions really give you a lot of interesting, self-reflective things to think about that you might not give yourself time or space to otherwise. It forces you to pause and reflect on your aspirations, goals, and action plans.”
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