In honor of National Mentoring Month, we are spotlighting our Pathways Program, which serves an annual class of participants within the U.S. and Canada Higher Ed Sales Organization. With a focus on networking, knowledge-sharing, career exploration, and mentorship with senior leaders, Pathways aims to empower participants to achieving their career aspirations.
Kelley S., Senior Director of Sales Learning and Development, emphasizes the program's commitment to supporting participants and fostering their professional growth. She says, "the Pathways Program serves as a platform for talent recognition and development. Our mentors play a vital role by introducing participants to a broader network of functional leaders and potential hiring managers, opening doors for exciting opportunities."
Helping Others Unlock Potential
Edwin R., SVP, General Manager, US Higher Ed and Canada, played a pivotal role in establishing the Pathways Program at Cengage Group and has served as a mentor to several individuals. Edwin believes that National Mentoring Month provides an excellent opportunity for reflection, saying, “I have benefitted from the guidance of many mentors throughout my career, and this month is a great time to acknowledge and appreciate those who have helped you reach your goals. It is also a great time to reflect on one's own role in helping others. I am at the point in my career where I can pay it forward and I take pride and joy in serving as a mentor.”
When Edwin joined Cengage Group, nearly 10 years ago, he dedicated his initial months to listening and learning from colleagues. He immersed himself in the field, experiencing the day-to-day realities of various sales roles within the organization. “Through this process, I discovered that the sales learning and development program primarily focused on training individuals for their current roles without considering the bigger picture of career progression and empowerment. This realization led to the creation of the Pathways Program, which aims to provide career advice and connect employees with mentors from across the business, regardless of where their functional expertise resides.”
One valuable piece of advice Edwin imparts to all his mentees is to “give yourself more credit. As a mentor, a big part of my role is to help individuals recognize their potential and become more comfortable with their skillset. I often employ project-based learning to challenge mentees, encouraging them to acquire new skills and achieve what they may have initially deemed impossible.” Edwin emphasizes that the goal is not to prove oneself to him, but rather to prove to oneself the extent of their capabilities. Through this approach, Edwin has watched the confidence of his mentees blossom.
“Serving as a mentor allows me to learn something new every day. Although I believe I have a lot of advice and guidance to share, I acknowledge that I still have a lot to learn. It is important to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between mentor and mentee, where both parties listen, communicate and learn from one another. This reciprocity is a fundamental aspect of mentorship that I strive to replicate in my role as a mentor.”
For those interested in becoming a mentor, Edwin emphasizes the significance of recognizing that, “what has worked for you may not necessarily work for others. It is crucial to understand the individual being mentored, and utilize personal experiences to inform and guide rather than dictate. I encourage mentors to listen actively and tailor their guidance to the specific needs and circumstances of their mentees.”
Elevating the Employee Experience
Rebecca R., Sales Leader of Field Sales East, participated in the Pathways program as a mentee. She believes that “National Mentoring Month serves as a reminder that we should never let our own development or growth get lost in our business priorities and to reflect on how our mentors and mentees have positively impacted our journeys.”
Rebecca shares that the best piece of advice she has received from a mentor was to “understand your strengths, research more about what that means, and bring it into the job you’re doing today.” While participating in the Pathways Program, Rebecca took a strengths finder evaluation and was surprised to see that ‘strategic’ was one of her top three strengths. “My mentor at the time, Edwin Robles, had me research more about the value of that skillset, how it was a competitive advantage, and then connected me with strategy-focused colleagues to learn more. Ever since then, I have worked to expand upon this skillset and bring it front and center in everything that I do.”
Seeking out mentors can be intimidating, but Rebecca believes that having the guidance of mentors enhanced her experience working at Cengage Group. “I have built many close relationships, got a well-rounded sense of how Cengage operates, and feel so much more deeply connected to our people and culture. You learn there is so much more commonality across lines and departments than you could imagine because everyone at Cengage is passionate about our collective mission, core values and principles, regardless of their role.”
Rebecca credits the Pathways Program with helping her land her current role as a sales leader. “I had an interest in the Sales Leader position as the next step in my career and was paired with Edwin Robles to focus on this. He gave me a project where I could really get hands-on with what the role would entail. The project and process were all very new to me, but I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of. The experience also let my mentor see the same thing, which gave him and other stakeholders more confidence in my candidacy when the role became available. I am happy to say that after participating in Pathways, I was promoted to the Sales Leader role in 2023!” Rebecca encourages others to seek mentors and says it’s important to “be honest, be vulnerable, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You get as much as you give, so be intentional with your relationship, and make sure you find ways to apply whatever it is you’re working on together so you can maximize your growth.”
Cengage Group employees make an impact and change the world. Here, transparency and collaboration are core values. We provide challenging careers, competitive benefits, a strong technology focus and a great team of co-workers and customers. Check out the blogs linked below to learn more about the employee experience and career development.