Show Me The Way: Splash VP Offers Tips on Being Best Mentor and Mentee

Sometimes the worst example offers the best lesson.Amy Holtzman, vice president of marketing at Splash, an event marketing software company that has created 670,000 events with 21 million RSVPs,  learned in her first job more than a decade ago exactly what she did not want in a mentor.[bctt tweet=“Sometimes the worst example offers the best lesson. #LeadershipLessons” username=“takeleadwomen”]Now she does her best to make sure she maximizes mentorship opportunities for those around her.After graduating from University of Florida with a degree in public relations and journalism in 2003, Holtzman went on to earn a masters in higher education administration in 2005 at UF. Her first job was in the executive education department at the university.Two years working there for a male manager who was “very old school” and “harassing to women,” made her wonder if she disliked her job so much because it was a business problem, university problem or a manager problem. Holtzman just knew she didn’t like her job and that she did not have a good mentor in her boss.“It was a difficult environment,” Holtzman says. And looking back, she says, a manager who would rub her neck and ask how her weekend was, is not OK. “It was weird and very confusing.”She adds, “For someone just entering the workforce, that experience would shape why I feel so passionate about good mentorship.” Holtzman  wanted what she did not have.“Mentors are a critical part of both professional and personal development. Everyone is glued to their screens nowadays. We often forget the art of in-person communication, which is essential to be a strong leader. Mentors give women an avenue to practice their communication skills in a safe environment by focusing on growth and improvement,” Kailynn Bowling, Co-Founder of ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm, writes in Forbes.[bctt tweet=”#Mentors are essential because they ‘give women an avenue to practice their communication skills in a safe environment by focusing on growth and improvement.’ – founderchicbuds in Forbes” username=“takeleadwomen”]For Holtzman, a colleague she trusted in her first job – but who did not want to get involved in any HR complications— gave Holtzman what she felt was great advice. “You’re early in your career and you can change things.”At a conference she attended soon after, Holtzman randomly sat near the publisher of B2B magazine and he suggested she apply for a temporary position in New York, filling in for the marketing manager on maternity leave.So she applied for the job and got it, moving to New York in 2007, and the temporary job turned into a full time position.“That’s where I launched my career,” Holtzman says. “Now I had an amazing male boss who did not treat women differently, and wanted to accelerate women.” She adds, “He helped me understand my value to the company and how to find my voice.”After four years, in 2011, she took on an opportunity for a start up, “that was a scam,” she says, discovering that two weeks into the job.“I realized I made a big mistake,” Holtzman says. So she put out a call to everyone she knew about available positions, and landed a job at CBS Interactive in San Francisco, where she worked for 18 months.“It was an amazing job, but I did not love being at a big corporation,” says Holtzman. She also had the best boss she ever knew at the job, she says.“She was super strong, take no prisoners and really looked out for other women,” Holtzman says. “It was hard to leave for that reason, but she told me I should go.  She cared about me and it was a great experience.”Moving to Demandbase Consultancy in 2012 as a senior manager, after two years, she was offered the chance to open the New York office. She took it, moving cross country again with her husband, and shortly after was recruited by Conductor, where she stayed three years until 2017.Holtzman has been at Splash since April 2017, and the company now has 125 employees. While there is no formal mentoring program at Splash, Holtzman has launched a project called Women in Revenue Marketing for VP-level women, who meet quarterly in New York. Twenty-five women came to the recent inaugural dinner meeting.“It is hugely important to have a mentor,” Holtzman says.“Mentoring is the cornerstone of leadership development. What we’ve learned is that formal or informal, mentoring programs should be designed around women leaders who want to give back as well as those looking to network and build relationships with others in their field,” writes  Lisl Dutterer, executive director at Wnet, writes in Payments Source.With that in mind, Holzman offers her tips on how to be the best mentor possible.Be understanding and have a larger perspective. “You don’t have to be in someone’s exact shoes,” but you do need empathy about what it must be like.[bctt tweet=”#Mentorship advice from @demandmarketer: Be understanding and have a larger perspective, offer time investment, and look for new ways to mentor. “ username=“takeleadwomen”]Offer time investment. “You have to have availability on an as-needed basis. It can be once a year or a few hours a week or as needed.”Look for new ways to mentor. “You can make it clear to your organization you are willing to be a mentor. LinkedIn also has a setting available and you can offer to be a mentor.”Noting that mentorship is not a one-way street, Holtzman suggests that mentees consider how to give back to the mentor. “Offer something of value, perhaps a new perspective or show her how you can help her better understand someone who is just now coming into the workforce,” Holtzman says.If you are seeking a mentor, do not randomly select someone without a clear idea as to why you choose her.“Time is my most valuable asset,” Holtzman says. “Those who stand out for me are clear as to why they are reaching out, as opposed to someone whom I don’t know what it is she wants.”In a new study from the University of La Verne,  researchers found, “Women mentoring relationships among each other provide empowerment, instill confidence, and create career-path success by providing relatable experience and advice on navigating glass barriers. Such relationships prove to be a supportive element in helping other women move up the managerial pipeline and into leadership.”