Jori McCurtrey (right) with her mentor Sharon Byers at WISE Atlanta's anniversary luncheon.
For young women early in their careers, it can be easy to be intimidated by the incredible resumes of the women who are a part of WISE. WISE Within helps bridge those professional gaps, forges connections and fosters encouraging relationships — but not without the effort and commitment of all involved, especially the mentees. Having been a mentee of the program, I found several things to be integral to the success of my experience and offer these three tips to future mentees: Be proactive. Be flexible. Be prepared.
After hearing many accolades regarding WISE Within, I knew I had to apply. As is my nature, I set out with specific objectives: to grow my network in Atlanta, increase my visibility both within my company and the larger sports and entertainment industry, and learn from a woman who has built her career on the foundations of hard work and integrity.
I was elated to be paired with Sharon Byers, a high-ranking executive at The Coca-Cola Company who was named a 2013 WISE Women of the Year honoree during the mentorship. Sharon is a wife, mother and businesswoman whose passions and morals mirror my own. Who better to learn from than a woman who has achieved what I aspire to?
As with most executives, schedules tend to be hectic and subject to change on the fly. Again, I prepared specific goals in order to respect Sharon's time and to get the most out of our monthly meetings. I thought about my current job, areas I wanted to develop and where I wanted my career to go and came up with several points to explore with Sharon, such as the importance — or un-importance — of higher education in this industry, the hiring and effective management of a summer intern, and the further development of sports marketing strategies and analysis.
The lessons I walked away with each month were numerous and invaluable. It would be impossible to quantify everything I've learned, as we tackled my objectives and so much more.
With Sharon's guidance, I have objectively weighed the pros and cons of graduate school versus staying in the workforce and gaining real-world experience and have acquired better insight into comprehensive return-on-investment analysis. Sharon has introduced me to people on her team, helping me expand my network, and has shared her own perspectives on management and the challenges she met — and continues to meet — at every level of her career. And just as important has been the reinforcement that building and maintaining strong relationships with colleagues and partners is essential in order to drive business forward.
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