[Edmonton] EHL Mentorship Program – an Emerging Health Leader’s (Limited) Perspective

Until I participated in the Emerging Health Leaders – Edmonton Node’s mentorship program in 2014, I had never really had an official “mentor”. I had bosses and leaders that I looked up to and learned from, but I had never had an official mentor – mentee relationship. So when the EHL – Edmonton call for mentees came out, I quickly signed up…and promptly started to wonder what I was doing.

The list of mentors that EHL – Edmonton had secured was impressive; senior leadership from Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, consultants and executive coaches, University of Alberta professors, etc. To be honest, it was a little intimidating. I wondered what I would have in common with any of them, and worried that I was too “new” in my career, and would be a waste of their time. What if no one wanted to mentor me? I know – self-esteem was at an all-time high, apparently.

I reviewed the list of mentors, and circled the top few I wanted to connect with. I was interested in a mentor who had experience in health care administration that didn’t necessarily have a clinical background, as the career path can be a bit different. I was hoping for someone with experience with coaching or formal mentorship, as I wasn’t sure how this was supposed to go…I knew all the mentors would be familiar with this type of relationship, but it would be nice to have someone with formal coaching or mentorship interests. I also circled names of people I’d been aware of throughout my career with Capital Health / AHS, and people I’d admired from afar – this was my chance to sit and pick their brains. The session was set up in a “speed dating” format, with a few minutes for each mentee to sit with the mentors, time to mingle with other mentees, etc. Each conversation was fairly informal, but I still felt like I had to sell myself as someone they would want to mentor. I tried to come up with a game plan for how to start the conversations, how to “sell myself” as a potential mentee with only a short amount of time, and it seemed like most of the participants did the same. When it was all said and done, my “criteria” helped me narrow the field down to the ones I really wanted to be matched with.

After the event, we were asked to score our top three, and the EHL – Edmonton executive team would match pairs based on their scores. Shortly after that, I got an email notifying me that I had been paired with Greg Hadubiak, who is an Executive Coach with Western Management Consultants (check out his leadership blog here!!). I was excited, as Greg had been my top pick, but was a bit worried that I wasn’t ready. Greg has many years of senior leadership experience in health care, executive coaching experience – what would we find to talk about?

At our first meeting, we chatted about my professional experience, where I wanted to go with my career, some ideas of positions I might be interested in, and some life stuff in general. I was at a point in my career where I was starting to think that I needed to look for something new, but wasn’t sure what I wanted that to be.

Greg was a big help in that sense. He never once told me what I should do (which, full disclosure, I was hoping he would), but he helped me work through the things I was interested in, the skills I wanted to improve, and how I could combine those things to find a position that was right for me. Once I started applying for positions, he did several interview prep sessions with me, and helped me with one particularly difficult interview that included a presentation – something I had never done before.

There were so many little things that I learned working with Greg. One thing that has really stuck with me is how to present myself, both in a CV and in an interview. Greg taught me to be confident in my skills and abilities; when someone asks what you bring to a position, don’t start your statement with, “I think I am…” – which is how I would always frame it. Know your strengths. Be confident in what you bring to the table. He wrote a great blog post on mentorship, which gives a really good perspective (and the Star Wars references speak to me!).

Thanks to Greg’s support and guidance, I had some very successful interviews, and was able to choose a position that was the best fit for me.

For anyone that is wondering what they might gain from participating in the EHL Mentorship program, or if they are ready for a formal mentor – SIGN UP! It is a flexible program, there are no strict guidelines about when and how the mentor / mentee need to meet, how long the relationship has to continue, etc. While I don’t connect with Greg as regularly as I used to, I can still reach out and get his feedback and perspective on things, which has been invaluable to me. And having an idea of what exactly you are looking for is great, but not necessary. It’s been my experience that the leaders who sign up as mentors want to be involved in shaping and helping us (the emerging leaders) grow.

Stay tuned for more mentorship-specific posts and information, and watch for details on our mentorship kick-off event in April 2017!

-Nicole Whitaker, EHL Edmonton Tri-Chair