Over 8,000 miles separate Wells Fargo team member Prathibha Mandhula and her mentor, Holly Rollefson. Yet Rollefson, an analytics manager with Enterprise Data & Analytics in Minneapolis, has long made it a priority to advocate for gender and ethnic diversity throughout her career in technology.
“Many women face similar challenges across cultures,” Rollefson said. “Prathibha and I were really able to forge a relationship and learn from each other.”
Many women face similar challenges across cultures. We were able to forge a relationship and learn from each other.
– Holly Rollefson
For Mandhula, a technology manager in Enterprise Global Services in Hyderabad, India, a strong bond with a female mentor in the United States has helped bridge the geographical gap.
“Holly has a lot of responsibility as a leader, yet she always made time to connect with me,” Mandhula said. “Holly has helped show me how to be a thoughtful, direct, and inclusive leader who can take in diverse perspectives and work past any conflicts that may arise.”
“We need to do a lot more work at the top to continue to bring in diversity,” said Rollefson, “We need to look at diverse candidate pools when selecting the best person for the job. And we need to invite them to have a seat at the table, and show them that their opinions are valued.”
Mentoring comes full circle
Jenna Hammer, a Customer Insights manager for Virtual Channels, still recalls the moment she realized how far she had progressed in her career. She was at a conference when a young woman sitting next to her struck up a friendly conversation.
“We were chatting casually, and I started to share a few thoughts when I noticed how intently this young woman was asking questions,” Hammer said. “I realized then that I do have a unique perspective that someone else might value.”
Marie has been a huge advocate who continues to push and challenge me to seek opportunities I might not have pursued on my won.
– Jenna Hammer
Hammer attributes much of her professional growth to her mentor, Marie Floyd, head of Digital Experience Design at Wells Fargo. “Marie has been a huge personal advocate who continues to push and challenge me to seek opportunities that I might not have pursued on my own.”
For Floyd, a long career in high-tech companies — where she was often the only female executive in the room — led her to mentor and provide career advice for other women.
“Many women are their family’s primary caregiver and need to excel at juggling work-life balance,” Floyd said. “And often, they have to work harder just to get recognized. It’s a lot of pressure, which is why mentoring is so important.”
To other women, Floyd recommends carefully selecting projects that offer opportunities for learning and growth, and Hammer suggests pursuing mentorships, even if they are informal, in diverse areas of interest.